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European Traditional Medicines Directive

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what categories of products that are currently on sale in the UK will be left outside of the scope of the proposed European directive on traditional medicines; and if he will make a statement. [43746]

Ms Blears: There are many categories of products currently on sale in the UK which the European Commission's proposals for a Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products are not intended to cover. However, specifically in relation to products which are currently sold legally as unlicensed herbal remedies under Section 12(2) of the Medicines Act, 1968, there are a number of reasons why a proportion of existing products might not satisfy the terms of the proposed Directive. The most likely reasons might be: failure to meet safety or quality standards, or failure to demonstrate that the remedy or corresponding products (that is, comparable herbal medicines) had traditional use. In many such cases in should be possible for companies to make changes—for example improving

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quality standards or making adjustments to the ingredients or strength of specific products—in order to comply with the terms of the Directive.

Subject to a successful outcome to European negotiations, the introduction of a systematic regulatory framework for traditional herbal medicines should result in improved public health protection, enhanced public confidence in herbal medicine and the continuing availability of a very wide range of remedies.

Perinatal Morality

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he is taking to reduce perinatal mortality. [43748]

Yvette Cooper: We are continuing to support the work of the Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy, to improve understanding of how these deaths can be reduced. The tragedy of perinatal mortality has links with poverty, deprivation and exclusion. We are addressing these underlying causes through the XSure Start" initiative, including pilot programmes to provide personal co-ordinated support for pregnant teenagers, and parents under the age of 18. We are also investing more in the provision of maternity and neonatal intensive care and seeking to ensure the most effective configuration of these essential services.

NHS Pensions

James Purnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he plans to equalise the calculations for NHS widows' and widowers' pension provision by including women doctors' pension contributions prior to 1988. [43749]

Mr. Hutton: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the former Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Prior) on 13 January 1999, Official Report, column 212.

Rehabilitation Services

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the Government are doing to improve rehabilitation services for people of working age. [43750]

Jacqui Smith: We are working with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Health and Safety Executive on job retention and rehabilitation pilots to test different health and employment strategies to help people with long term sickness or disability to remain in their jobs.

We have commissioned guidance for health and social services on promoting employment opportunities for people with mental health problems to meet the requirement of Standard One of the National Service Framework (NSF) for Mental Health.

The NSF on Long Term Conditions will have a particular focus on the needs of people with neurological disease, brain and spinal injury, as well as some of the common issues faced by people with a long-term condition such as rehabilitation.

Primary Care

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact of

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the transfer of responsibilities from health authorities to PCTs on community initiatives and preventive care. [43751]

Mr. Hutton: As part of the transfer of responsibilities from health authorities to primary care trusts all local communities are required to ensure that community initiatives and preventive care are incorporated into Health Improvement Plans and local strategic development plans.

Hospital Consultants

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of hospital consultants are contracted (a) full-time and (b) part-time to the NHS. [43754]

Mr. Hutton: The table shows the number of hospital medical consultants by contract in England as at 30 September 2001. The table gives a break down of contract holders on national terms and conditions of service by (a) whole time, (b) maximum part time and (c) part time. The number of honorary contract holders is also provided.


Hospital medical consultants by nature of contract
England at 30 September 2001   Numbers

All contractsWhole timeMaximum Part-timePart-timeHonorary


Department of Health 2001 medical and dental workforce census


Figures are rounded to nearest 10. Due to rounding figures may not equal the sum of component parts. Percentages were calculated using unrounded figures.

Hearing Services (High Street Opticians)

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received regarding the delivery of digital hearing aids and other hearing services via high street opticians. [43727]

Jacqui Smith: My hon. Friend raised this issue in the House on 7 November 2001, Official Report column 131WH and on several occasions since. My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) has also raised this issue and I will be meeting her in April.

Digital Hearing Aids

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will allow Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport to be one of the next group of sites to provide digital hearing aids. [41941]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 11 March 2002]: We have received expressions of interest from several Health communities not yet involved in the modernising hearing aid services project. Decisions will be made shortly, based on a number of criteria including geographical distribution, preparedness, and the support of the whole local health community.

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Communications Aids

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the use to which the funding announced on 27 March 2001 to provide communications aids to children with hearing difficulties has been put; [42657]

Jacqui Smith: The XGuide to Integrating Community Equipment Service", published on 27 March 2001, set out the vision for the scope of services that users should expect to receive, and indicated the steps that organisations will need to take to achieve the vision.

Our intention, as stated in a circular to local authorities and health authorities in March 2001, is that the services should look to use some of the additional funding for community equipment services on communication aids for people with impaired speech. No specific guidance on communication aids for children or adults with hearing difficulties has been issued. It is for local services to determine the equipment they will provide.

Overseas Treatment

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if it is his policy to include Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust in the pilot scheme to allow NHS patients to be treated abroad. [43736]

Mr. Hutton: Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust does not fall within any of the three Health Authority areas involved in the overseas pilot. However, if the Trust needs to have patients treated overseas the pilot sites would be willing and able to assist, using their existing contracts with French and German providers.

Delayed Hospital Discharges

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress he is making in tackling the problem of delayed discharge in the national health service. [43744]

Jacqui Smith: The latest published figures for December 2001 of people aged over 75 whose discharge was delayed was 5,117. This represents around a 12 per cent. reduction compared to the same period in 2000.

Unlicensed Medicines

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of websites based in the UK that are offering for sale (a) licensed, (b) unlicensed and (c) both licensed and unlicensed medicines; if he will list those sites his Department has identified; and if he will make a statement. [38820]

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Ms Blears: An accurate figure for the number of websites based in the United Kingdom offering medicines for sale is not known because websites are opened and closed often with very short timespans, which makes quantification extremely difficult. Furthermore sites are often routed through many Internet Service Providers to disguise their origins. Therefore it would be disproportionate to investigate the origin of all sites.

The Medicines Control Agency takes appropriate action against any website of which it is aware that is operating within the UK in breach of UK law and regulations.

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