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Electromagnetic Fields

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the letter from the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member of Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), of 20 December 2001 (ref POH (3)5653/13), what discussions he has had with the NRPB on action to be taken on electromagnetic fields from anti-theft security tagging systems and possible dangers from potential exposures from surveillance equipment. [26560]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 22 January 2002]: The use of electronic article surveillance devices has become widespread in use, particularly in shops and stores.

Publicity has recently been given to a theoretical study of models of people exposed to the magnetic fields from simulated electronic article surveillance devices.

I am advised by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) that it is theoretically possible, under quite specific conditions, for exposures to approach or potentially exceed the guidelines recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for members of the public, including children. Limited measurements made by NRPB to date have, in practice, indicated compliance with the guidelines.

It is important for manufacturers to ensure that, in conditions of use, exposure to magnetic fields from their equipment complies with guidelines. The Department will continue to work closely with other relevant Government Departments and NRPB to ensure that the best available advice is sought on these matters.

MMR Inoculations

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many letters he has received on MMR inoculations from residents of the Buckingham constituency. [30056]

Yvette Cooper: Because of a postal address not always being given, the information requested is not available.

NHS Trusts (Foundation Status Applications)

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether NHS trusts seeking foundation status will be permitted to hire the services of management consultants, accountants, valuers and other professions to further their plans. [29655]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 23 January 2002]: National health service trusts already hire the services of management consultants and other professionals. Where necessary trusts seeking foundation status will be able to hire the services of management consultants, accountants, valuers and other professions to further their plans subject to existing standards of probity, value for money and tendering set out in good corporate governance in the NHS.

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many civil servants he expects will be deployed on assessing applications by NHS trusts for foundation status. [29658]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 23 January 2002]: No estimates have been made of the number of civil servants that will be deployed on assessing applications by national

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health service trusts for foundation status. Applications will, in the first instance, be reviewed by the chief executives of the new health authorities and, in the light of this, advice will be given to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Social Workers

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 18 January 2002, Official Report, column 530W, on social workers, how many social services staff were agency and temporary staff in each year since 1991. [30274]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not available centrally.

Health Funding

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 16 January 2002, Official Report, column 376W, on health care funding, how much funding for health care per patient there was in all English parliamentary constituencies in the last five years. [30275]

Mr. Hutton: Health authorities receive allocations to commission health care for their population. Health authorities for the parliamentary constituencies, and their allocations per weighted head of population and per unweighted head of population between 1997–98 and 2001–02 are shown in the tables that have been deposited in the Library.

It is more meaningful to show health authority allocations per head of population using weighted populations. This is because funding takes into account the relative needs of populations using a weighted capitation formula.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the additional expenditure incurred by general practitioners who have registered significant numbers of asylum seekers as patients. [27550]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 24 January 2002]: The costs to the national health service incurred by general practitioners in providing services to asylum seekers are not separately identifiable within the financial frameworks for either general or personal medical services.

Physiotherapists

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he is taking to ensure that numbers of physiotherapists working in the NHS rises from 15,600 to 24,800 between 2000 and 2009; and if he will make a statement. [30191]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 25 January 2002]: Our plan to increase the number of physiotherapists working in the national health service by 59 per cent., from 15,600 in 2000 to 24,800 in 2009, was announced in the follow-up document to the NHS Plan, "Investment and reform for NHS staff—taking forward the NHS Plan", (published 15 February 2001).

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We will meet this target by a number of measures, including increasing training commissions, a return to practice campaign, promoting flexible, supportive and family friendly policies, and international recruitment.

For basic grade physiotherapists who have done three years training, their starting salary has increased in cash terms by 36 per cent. since May 1997. This includes the 2002 increase which will be payable from 1 April.

For graduates who have done four years training, the increase to their starting pay is 32 per cent. in cash terms since May 1997.

Overseas Treatment

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimates he has made of the cost of treating patients sent abroad for treatment until the end of March 2002; [29717]

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the total cost to each health authority involved of the package of care for (a) cataract and (b) joint replacement operations per patient treated in (i) the UK under the NHS, (ii) Lille and paid for by the NHS and (iii) private hospitals and paid for by the NHS. [29674]

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the total cost of treating NHS patients who were sent for treatment in French hospitals on

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18 January broken down by (a) treatment costs paid to French hospitals, (b) other treatment costs, (c) travel costs, (d) non-clinical care costs and (e) other costs; if he will estimate the difference between the total costs of this form of treatment and the standard NHS costs of treatment; and if he will make a statement. [30021]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 23 and 24 January 2002]: The precise costs of the national health service funded operations purchased in Lille are commercially confidential. The same approach is taken in relation to NHS funded operations in the private sector in the United Kingdom, where we anonymise data before releasing it. Clearly this would be impossible in the present case.

Direct comparisons of the costs of overseas treatment and NHS costs are not straightforward; for example, prices agreed so far for hip and knee replacements include intensive rehabilitation which would not be included in standard NHS reference costs. In general the prices agreed so far for treatment overseas are in excess of NHS average reference costs but comparable to those in the UK private sector. However, we would expect better prices if and when we commit to larger volumes of patients travelling overseas to individual hospitals.

£1.1 million to fund treatment costs has been made available to the three test bed sites in south-east England who are developing processes for sending patients overseas. Depending on the case mix, this should fund 200 to 300 procedures.

The primary care group will have to take account for how it spends its share of the public money that it receives as well as how it secures the highest possible standards of care and good value for money.