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NHS Patients (Overseas Treatment)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria he uses to decide on whether to withhold information on the grounds of commercial confidentiality in relation to contracts abroad with foreign companies. [36517]

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to publish cost details for those NHS patients who have received treatment in continental hospitals; and why this information was not published before treatment was given. [37313]

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his policy on (a) commercial confidentiality and (b) public accountability in contracts made for patients to be treated abroad. [36519]

Mr. Hutton: We will not publish details about the cost to the national health service of individual operations carried out on NHS patients treated at particular hospitals in Europe as part of the pilot scheme.

It would not be possible to publish this information without breaching commercial confidentiality. It would also undermine the negotiating position of the NHS with existing and potential healthcare providers.

This is consistent with the approach to release of information set out in the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

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Information about overall expenditure on treatment for patients under the pilot scheme will be published in due course.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) facilities and (b) treatments are available in the NHS for sufferers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. [37126]

Jacqui Smith: Patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy can take advantage of the usual primary care/secondary and tertiary services available. Children form a considerable part of the caseload for children's community nursing services and many receive services from children's hospices.

Clinical and laboratory services for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy are available through existing networks of regional genetics centres. In April 2001 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced a £30 million investment aimed at improving NHS genetics services. This should help patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and other genetic diseases.

There is no specific treatment for any of the forms of muscular dystrophy. Physical therapy and corrective orthopaedic surgery may be needed to improve the quality of life in some cases.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research his Department is funding into Duchenne muscular dystrophy; [37124]

Jacqui Smith: The main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatments for disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC) which receives its funding via the Department of Trade and Industry. In 2000–01 the MRC spent £920,000 on research into Muscular Dystrophy. This included a number of projects and fellowships looking specifically at Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and a major programme of work on the molecular analysis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the MRC Functional Genetics unit in Oxford. This work is at a basic level and it is hoped that such research will lead to treatments in the future.

The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for support into any aspect of human health and these are judged in open competition with other demands on funding. Awards are made according to their scientific quality and importance to human health.

The Department funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the national health service. The Department provides support to NHS trusts to allow work funded by others such as the Research Councils and charities to be conducted within the NHS. Details of ongoing and recently completed research projects funded by, or of interest to, the NHS are available on the National Research Register which is available on the internet at

The Department has provided support over the last decade to the umbrella charity "The Genetic Interest Group", of which the Duchenne Family Support Group is

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a member organisation. This funding has been targeted to a range of initiatives intended to raise awareness of all inherited diseases.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of pharmacists are employed at grades (a) D and (b) E level in (i) hospital pharmacies and (ii) PCG/PCT pharmacies. [37137]

Ms Blears: The information requested is in the table.

Percentage of Grade D and E pharmacists employed at trusts

GradeWhole time equivalentHeadcount


1. The above information is for a sample of NHS trusts. It shows what percentage grade D and E make up of the total number of pharmacists.

2. The sample of PCT we have available is too limited to provide meaningful data on this subject.

3. We do not hold information on PCGs.

(4.) NHS Earnings Survey 2000. The results are based on a survey at August 2000 covering almost 500 thousand staff, (about 50 per cent. of NHS trusts and health authorities) with pay information taken directly from payroll records.

Source: Department of Health: 2000 Earnings Survey.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the vacancy rates for hospital pharmacists in each hospital trust in the last 12 months. [37617]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to promote an extended role for pharmacists in performing medication review. [37142]

Ms Blears: The NHS Plan set a target for all primary care trusts to have schemes in place so that people get more help from pharmacists in using their medicines by 2004. We have set up a collaborative medicines management programme, hosted by the National Prescribing Centre. The first wave of 26 pilot sites was announced last July and the second wave of 40 sites was announced on 12 February. We are also supporting a trial of structured services based exclusively in community pharmacies for patients with coronary heart disease. These initiatives build on and complement other local initiatives under which pharmacists are involved in reviewing patients' medication.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department is taking to minimise the handling charge imposed by pharmacists dealing with monitored dosage systems. [37127]

Ms Blears: Under their national health service terms of service, pharmacies are not required to provide monitored dosage systems. Any charges for the supply of monitored dosage systems are therefore a commercial matter.

Hospital Readmissions

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the latest available readmission rates to hospitals within two months are for (a) all patients in

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England and Wales and (b) each hospital trust in England and Wales; and if he will break down the readmitted patients by age. [37128]

Jacqui Smith: We do not have information on readmission rates within two months.

Information for England showing emergency readmissions to hospital within 28 days of last previous discharge from hospital by trust and health authority was published on Wednesday 20 February. This information will be placed in the Library and can be found on

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the type of home of over 65-year-old patients readmitted to hospitals within two months of discharge, broken down by (a) residential/ nursing home and (b) private home with domiciliary care. [37311]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not available currently.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many non-fatal cases of the MRSA superbug have been reported in each hospital trust in each of the last five years. [37141]

Ms Blears: The data requested are not held centrally. Information about bacteraemias blood stream infections due to MRSA has been collected from all acute trusts as the first stage of a new comprehensive and compulsory surveillance system since 1 April 2001. Early data from this surveillance was published in the 'Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Report on 8 February 2002', copies of which are available in the Library.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many inpatient deaths have been attributed to MRSA in each of the last five years. [37140]

Ms Blears: There are no centrally held statistics on deaths caused by health care associated infections, including Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

MRSA infection can take many forms, from trivial skin infection to pneumonia or septicaemia. Often the causative micro-organism is not specified on the death certificate. MRSA does not have a distinct code within the revision of the international classification of diseases used for encoding death registration data at the Office for National Statistics.

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