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Mr. Barron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions have taken place with (a) representatives of NICE, (b) representatives of patients' groups, (c) representatives of professional groups, (d) representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, (e) representatives of health authorities and trusts and (f) other health organisations as part of the preparatory work in relation to the review of NICE; and if he will make a statement. [20157]

Ms Blears [holding answer 3 December 2001]: As part of routine business we have held a number of discussions on this subject, particularly with the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the pharmaceutical industry.

We expect shortly to issue a consultation document on aspects of the NICE appraisal process. The document will be limited in scope, taking account of the review already undertaken in the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry and the current inquiry by the Health Select Committee.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which countries in the EU allow children to be given single inoculations for measles, mumps and rubella. [24263]

Yvette Cooper: As far as we are aware, all European Union countries recommend measles, mumps and rubella vaccine as the safest way to protect children.

We are not aware of any EU country where the health service routinely offer parents a choice of MMR or single vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella.

Like the United Kingdom, EU countries prevent the use of licensed vaccines, including single vaccines.

NHS Staff (Disciplinary Action)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many disciplinary actions took place in 2001 involving NHS staff in allegations of (a) racism and (b) sexism. [24326]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 8 January 2002]: The Department does not routinely collect information regarding the disciplinary proceedings carried out in national health service organisations. Disciplinary action is a matter for local employers. National health service employers have a responsibility to investigate alleged breaches of acceptable standards by staff, and to consider whether any disciplinary action is required as a result of such allegations.

Traditional Medicines Directive

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the impact upon the United Kingdom health products industry of the lack of provision in the proposed Traditional Medicines Directive for products which are combinations of herbs with nutrients; [29432]

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Yvette Cooper [holding answer 22 January 2002]: Some products containing herbal ingredients and nutrients may currently be sold under food law. Where, however, products containing herbal ingredients and nutrients as active ingredients are classified as medicines, they require a marketing authorisation before being placed on the market. The regulatory position of such products would remain unaffected by the proposals for a directive on traditional herbal medicinal products which have been adopted by the European Commission.

The Commission's proposals for a directive are, as anticipated, restricted to traditional herbal medicines. Mixtures of herbal and other active ingredients would therefore fall outside the scope of the directive. We will need to give consideration to the criteria for determining the circumstances in which ingredients would be regarded as active.

The proposed directive contains provision for a later review which would consider the possibility of extending traditional use registrations to other categories of medicinal products. Our current assessment is that an extension of the proposed system for traditional use registrations to other categories of traditionally used medicines would be insufficient to cover a significant proportion of herbal and nutrient combination products. It would require an additional change in European legislation to permit on the market those herbal and nutrient combination products classified as medicines for which neither evidence of traditional use nor efficacy, as required for a marketing authorisation, could be demonstrated. Our current priority remains to secure an effective regulatory regime for traditional herbal remedies.

Medical Errors

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients within the NHS have (a) died and (b) been injured as a result of user error of medical equipment in each of the last five years. [29776]

Ms Blears [holding answer 28 January 2002]: The national health service reports incidents involving medical devices to the Medical Devices Agency (MDA) who maintain a database of reported incidents.

The MDA has successfully promoted the adverse incident reporting system over this period. There has been an increase in the total number of reports received from 5,380 in 1997 to 7,896 in 2001. Therefore, these figures do not necessarily indicate an increase in the number of incidents occurring, rather the results of the strenuous efforts taken by the MDA to improve incident reporting.

From the MDA's database the number of patients within the NHS that (a) died and (b) been injured as a result of user error of medical equipment in each of the last five years is given in the table.

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(a)User error incidents involving a fatality70200
(b)User error incidents involving an injury4521733

The National Patient Safety Agency will be working closely with the MDA in the reporting and sharing of information on adverse incidents involving medical devices. This collaboration will serve to enhance patient safety by learning from errors involving medical devices and in this way help reduce harm to future patients.


Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what contracts his Department has with KPMG; and what the value is of each one. [31319]

Ms Blears: The Department has six contracts with KPMG for the financial year 2001–02, to date. This includes five small contracts with individual values of £11,720, £1,283, £1,012, £18,898 and £1,499. The sixth is an on-going framework contract, managed by national health service estates on behalf of the Department, for which it is not possible to give a final value but where expenditure to date is £0.97 million.

Personal Information

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he will take to ensure that no personal information about NHS patients will be disclosed by Ministers, and officials acting on their behalf, beyond that which has been made public as a result of steps deliberately taken by the patients themselves, or with their explicit consent. [31381]

Ms Blears [holding answer 29 January 2002]: Disclosure of personal information is regulated by legislation and, where the information concerned is held in confidence, by common law obligations. In many circumstances it would be unlawful to disclose such information without the consent of the individual concerned unless the information is already in the public domain. Ministers and officials are aware of their responsibilities. However, there may arise circumstances where, in the broader public interest and subject to tests of necessity and proportionality, disclosure is both lawful and appropriate, for example where failure to do so might place others at significant risk.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will ensure that no information relating to NHS patients of a sensitive nature, covered by Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998, will be processed other than in accordance with Schedule 3 of that Act. [31380]

Ms Blears [holding answer 29 January 2002]: Guidance issued by the Department makes it clear that the processing of sensitive patient information must be in accordance with schedules 2 and 3 of the Data Protection Act 1998. Responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 rests with each national health service body or other data controller as defined by that Act.

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Portsmouth and South-east Hampshire

Health Authority

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) nurses and (b) doctors were employed in the NHS in the Portsmouth and South-east Hampshire health authority (i) in May 1997 and (ii) at the latest date for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [32687]

Ms Blears: The information requested is shown in the table.

NHS hospital and community health services (HCHS): Nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff by qualification and practice nurses and practitioners (excluding GP retainers) and medical and dental staff working in the Portsmouth and South-east Hampshire health authority area as at 30 September of each year

All Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting staff3,1203,620
Of which:
Practice Nurses240270
All Practitioners (excluding GP retainers)(48)310330
Of which:
Unrestricted Principals and Equivalents (UPEs)(49)300310
All Medical and Dental Staff(50)540670

(48) All practitioners (excluding GP retainers) include UPE's, Restricted Principals, Assistants, GP Registrars, Salaried Doctors (para 52 SFA) and PMS Others. GP retainers were collected for the first time in 1999, in 2000 there were 11 in the Portsmouth and South-east Hampshire health authority area.

(49) Unrestricted Principals and Equivalents (UPEs) includes GMS Unrestricted Principals, PMS Contracted GPs and PMS Salaried GPs.

(50) Excludes Medical Hospital Practitioners and Medical Clinical Assistants, most of whom are also GPs working part-time in hospitals.


1. Figures exclude learners and agency staff.

2. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

3. Due to rounding totals may not equal sum of component parts.

4. 2000 figures are those currently available.

5. 2001 figures will be released shortly.


Department of Health Non-Medical Workforce Census.

Department of Health Medical and Dental Workforce Census.

Department of Health General and Personal Medical services Statistics.

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