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Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people in the Wycombe constituency are affected by (a) sickle cell, (b) thalassaemia and (c) other haemoglobinopathies; [18890]

Ms Blears: The Department's hospital episodes statistics provide information on hospital treatment of beta thalassaemia and sickle-cell anaemia with crisis. No other information on haemoglobinopathies, including the information requested on screening, is held centrally.

Information on the number of finished consultant episodes (FCE) for patients resident in the Wycombe local authority area, treated in national health service hospitals in England during 2000–01, indicates 90 episodes of beta thalassaemia and seven of sickle-cell anaemia with crisis. Information is not available by constituency area.

The NHS plan sets out our commitment to introduce by 2004 a new and effective screening programme for women and children including a new national linked antenatal and neonatal programme for haemoglobinopathies. In order to ensure close involvement of voluntary sectors NHS Haemoglobinopathy Steering Group has representatives from the Sickle Cell Society and the United Kingdom Thalassaemia Society. These national support groups have membership at local, national and international level.

Lost Medical Notes

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action is being taken to reduce the incidence of patients' medical notes being mislaid. [19182]

Ms Blears: The NHS Plan, "Information for Health" and "Building the Information Core" made a clear commitment to providing electronic records for everyone in England, the aim being that, over time, on-line patient records will be accessible by all members of the national health service family such as family doctors, hospitals, NHS Direct, the ambulance service and patients. Electronic records play a crucial role in underpinning modern person based services.

"Information for Health" set out a number of local and national targets around the development of electronic records (Electronic Patient Records (EPRs) and Electronic Health Records (EHRs)). The development of organisational based EPRs will ensure all healthcare professionals involved in the provision of care for an individual have secure access to his/her full electronic medical record. This means that data will be entered once and available to all professionals in a format that best suits their practice. The record will minimise repeated

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collection of the same information, eradicate illegible writing, and most important of all avoid records being misplaced or lost. Similar electronic records are being implemented in primary and community care.

The successful implementation of EPRs in acute, primary care and social care environments will be a pre-requirement to successful implementation of the first generation EHR by the end of 2005. The EHR will be a summary of the data contained in the numerous organisational-based EPRs (hospitals, primary care, community, etc.).

Cloned Human Embryos

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what techniques are available to distinguish between a blastocyst stage cloned human embryo and a blastocyst stage embryo created by fertilisation in (a) the petri dish, (b) the cryopresentation facility and (c) the womb of a woman. [19753]

Ms Blears: The Department has, in its evidence to the High Court in the judicial review proceedings brought by ProLife Alliance, provided expert evidence that human embryos created by cell nuclear replacement (cloning) would be morphologically and physiologically indistinguishable from those created by fertilisation.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of chiropody services in Buckinghamshire. [19802]

Ms Blears: Provision of chiropody services in Buckinghamshire is the responsibility of the local health authority.

The NHS Plan contains the commitment to increase staff in the Allied Health Professions (AHP), including Chiropodists and Podiatrists. £3 million was earmarked this year to modernise AHP education and training programmes. Chiropody and podiatry were among the first group of specialities to addressed.

Deaf Patients

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department is taking to ensure that deaf patients who seek treatment with an NHS dentist have access to an interpreter. [19415]

Ms Blears: Provision of interpreter services is commissioned locally through health authorities. To assess the availability of interpreter services, we commissioned a survey 'An Integrated Strategy for Language and Communication Support' in January 2001 and the final report has now been completed. Commissioning of interpreter services will be included in the remit of primary care trusts when they take over the responsibilities of health authorities, and they will be able to draw on the analysis of the national survey when planning communication strategies as part of their health improvement and modernisation programmes.

Fast Food and Drink Machines

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the provision of fast food and drinks machines in school corridors. [19537]

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Ms Blears: It is for schools to determine for themselves whether or not there should be any provision for fast food and drinks machines in school corridors. The Department has no authority over what is sold in these machines. It would however encourage all schools to follow healthy eating principles and to ensure consistency of messages within the school about nutrition and food. We are working with the Department for Education and Skills, within the Food in Schools programme, on a number of issues, including vending machines.


Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on those health authorities which offer a choice between early medical and surgical abortion. [19454]

Jacqui Smith: This information is not collected centrally at present. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists clinical guideline "Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion" recommends that, ideally, abortion services must be able to offer a choice of recommended methods for relevant gestation bands. The sexual health and HIV strategy, which is currently out for consultation, recommends that services should be developed to provide national health service funded abortions in line with the Royal College's recommendations. Following the consultation, we will decide an implementation plan for the Strategy, including the arrangements for monitoring progress towards the new targets and other commitments made by the strategy.

Strategic Health Authorities

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the appointment process for the senior positions on the new strategic health authorities was started; and which stages have been completed. [19576]

Ms Blears: A national advertisement for chief executives of the new merged health authorities which will be created in April 2002 (and subject to legislation will become strategic health authorities in October 2002) was placed in September. Following assessment against criteria, individuals have been placed on a national shortlist. No appointments can be made until decisions are made on boundaries and chairs have been appointed. Once chief executives have been appointed, the process of appointment of their senior teams can start.

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Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many shortlists have been drawn up for Chair (designate) and Chief Executive (designate) for the proposed strategic health authorities in England. [20013]

Ms Blears [holding answer 5 December 2001]: Following a process of open competition, a national shortlist of candidates who meet the criteria for new chief executive posts has been drawn up. Following advertisement, the National Health Service Appointments Commission has provisionally identified candidates for each of the geographical areas covered by the proposed health authorities. No appointments will be made until decisions on boundaries have been made. Initially appointments will be to the new larger health authorities which will come into existence in April and will then, subject to legislation, become strategic health authorities in October.

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