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Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions there were between Government press officers and trust managers and medical directors of the Whittington hospital between 16 and 23 January; and whether the Medical Director's statement was (a) shown to, (b) amended by and (c) discussed with Government press officers. 
Mr. Hutton: Departmental officials routinely discuss management issues with staff at national health service trusts. These discussions can from time to time include issues that have been reported in the news media. Between 16 and 23 January, department of health press officers, as well as other officials, discussed with the trust's chief executive, but not its medical director, several stories that had appeared about the Whittington hospital in the Evening Standard. When it became clear that the staff at the Whittington had responded to these stories by writing to that newspaper, the Department's press office asked for a copy of their letter. At no time was the Department's press office's approval of, or assistance with, that letter either sought or offered; and nor was there any discussion between Departmental officials and the medical director of the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust about any of his public statements about media reporting of the trust.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will respond to the question from the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Mr. Gibb) of 24 January Ref 31140 regarding the Whittington hospital. 
Mr. Hutton: I refer to the hon. Member to my previous answer.
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Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to encourage participation by his Department in fair trade fortnight from 4 to 17 March. 
Ms Blears: The Department have yet to receive an invitation to this event, whether as a group of delegates or as exhibitors.
Generally, national health service trusts are approached directly by the organisations that run these ventures and it is for them to decide whether to attend.
The Department for International Development is providing £120,000 to the Fair Trade Foundation over three years (200103) in support of its efforts to target new groups through the annual Fairtrade Fortnight campaigns. My hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State for International Development will be attending the launch of this year's campaign on 4 March 2002.
Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the total expenditure of his Department on IT systems and support in each year from May 1997 to date; how many IT contracts have been let in each of those years; of the other main contracting party in each of those contracts, how many have been (a) companies whose registered office is in (i) England and Wales, (ii) Scotland and (iii) Northern Ireland and (b) foreign companies; and what are the names of the companies falling within category (a). 
Ms Blears: The Department's total information technology spend for financial years 199899, 19992000 and 200001 as follows:
There is no readily accessible information for financial year 199798 and material for 200102 is not yet available.
Information on the other aspects of the question is not available in an easily accessible form and can only be provided at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many contracts were let by his Department and agencies for which he is responsible to (a) PWC Consulting or PricewaterhouseCoopers, (b) Ernst and Young, (c) Deloitte and Touche, (d) KPMG and (e) Andersen for consultancy services for the financial years (i) 199798, (ii) 199899, (iii) 19992000, (iv) 200001 and (v) 2001 to the latest date for which figures are available, indicating the remuneration in each case. 
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Ms Blears: The Department does not centrally hold a record of individual contracts. However our financial records show the following total payments made by the Department and its agencies to (a) PWC Consulting
14 Feb 2002 : Column 674W
or PricewaterhouseCoopers, (b) Ernst and Young, (c) Deloitte and Touche, (d) KPMG and (e) Andersen for consultancy services by fiscal year since April 1997:
|(a) PWC Consulting||143,711||196,890||244,670||1,052,892||308,364|
|(b) Ernst and Young||26,230||18,234||58,603||71,200||66,677|
|(c) Deloitte and Touche||72,350||45,445||11,084||60,614||342,730|
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects NHS Estates to put forward proposed terms to the Epsom Riding for the Disabled Association for the acquisition of the site adjoining St. Ebba's Hospital. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 5 February 2002]: The district valuer has been instructed to act on behalf of National Health Service Estates/the Secretary of State for Health in this matter. Negotiations with the Epsom Riding for the Disabled Association are on-going and it is understood that the Epsom Riding for the Disabled Association are currently considering an offer which has been made to them.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library the information about the number of people living within 20 minutes drive prepared by the DTLR and presented to the management team of the Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust as part of its strategic review in 200001. 
Mr. Hutton: [holding answer 5 February 2002]: The management team of Epsom and St. Helier national health service trust are unaware of any submissions by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in response to the strategy document "Investing in Excellence".
The management consultancy SECTA, however, was commissioned by Epsom and St. Helier NHS trust to conduct some further work on site option development. Although a report was never produced a presentation was made on the work in progress to the trust at an executive team awayday in February 2001. Details of the presentation have been placed in the Library.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the level of prescription of probiotics by the NHS was in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: Information is not collected centrally on which, if any, of the products, which have been prescribed, contain or are composed of probiotics.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department plans to encourage the prescribing of probiotics; and if he will make as statement. 
Ms Blears: We have no plans to do so.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the expenditure by weighted head by health authorities and primary care trusts is different in Dorset health authority from that in Somerset health authority; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 6 February 2002]: Expenditure per weighted head cannot be reliably compared between different health authorities and primary care trusts. Somerset health authority had no primary care trusts in 200001 and Dorset health authority had four primary care trusts.
In many health authorities there are factors which distort the expenditure per head. These include: the health authority acting in a lead capacity to commission health care or fund training on behalf of other health bodies; asset revaluations in national health service trusts being funded through health authorities; and some double counting of expenditure between health authorities and primary care trusts within the health authority area.
In the case of Dorset and Somerset health authorities, all the above factors occur which distort the expenditure per weighted head of population.
Allocations per weighted head of population provide a much more reliable measure to identify differences between funding of health authorities.
Health authorities and primary care trusts should account for their expenditure on a gross basis. This results in a considerable element of double counting in Dorset where the health authority acts as the main commissioner and is then reimbursed by the primary care trusts. The effect of this double counting cannot be identified exactly from the accounts.
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