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NHS Appointments Commission

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list the members of the NHS Appointments Commission and their qualifications; and if he will make a statement on the appointment process for the membership of the Commission; [46718]

Ms Blears: Details of the chair and members of National Health Service Appointments Commission were given in press releases issued at the time of their appointment. Copies are available in the Library. The chair and all the commissioners declared in their applications that they had not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

The appointments process was carried out in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The posts were advertised nationally, and candidates interviewed by properly constituted panels, which included independent members.

London Ambulance Service

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many 999 calls were made to the Greater London Ambulance Service between 20 December 2001 and 3 January 2002 for which it was decided an ambulance was not necessary; and what proportion of calls over this period such calls represented. [46756]

Ms Blears: The London Ambulance Service operates a system of priority despatch, under which all calls are categorised according to their clinical priority. Under this system 6,041 calls received between 20 December 2001 and 3 January 2002 were determined to fall into the categories of neither serious nor life-threatening. This represented 20 per cent. of the total workload for that period.

Accident and Emergency Departments

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what proportion of patients were seen by a doctor or consultant within one hour of their arrival at accident and emergency in (a) each of the last six years and (b) 2002 to the latest available date. [46728]

Ms Blears: This information requested is not collected centrally.

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will publish the latest quarter figures for accident and emergency waiting times. [47546]

Ms Blears: The number of patients admitted through accident and emergency departments for quarter 4 will be released in the "Quarterly Review", which will be pre-announced shortly. The information is collected on the form "Your guide to the NHS". Latest published figures are for quarter 3 and this is available on the Department's website

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average accident and emergency department waiting times were (a) in England, (b) in each region and (c) in each NHS trust in the last year; and if he will make a statement. [44056]

Ms Blears: The average waiting time in accident and emergency units is not collected centrally.

NHS Re-admissions

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS re-admissions there were within (a) one, (b) three, (c) six, (d) eight and (e) 12 months of previous treatment in the last quarter of (i) 2001 and (ii) 1997. [46704]

Ms Blears: This information requested is not held centrally.

Brain Cancers

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research is (a) underway and (b) planned to commence this year to develop new and more effective chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of serious brain cancers. [46751]

Yvette Cooper: A worldwide review of over 3,000 patients, conducted by the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) and published in The Lancet on 23 March 2002 has found that chemotherapy in addition to surgery and radiotherapy may benefit adult patients with certain types of brain tumour.

Previously individual trials that assessed the efficacy of giving chemotherapy as well as surgery and radiotherapy to adults with high grade glioma, and spanned 30 years, did not include enough patients to give clear results. So leading researchers from around the world formed the Glioma Meta-analysis Trialists' Group and provided their original research from 12 trials to the CTU for re-analysis.

The MRC Clinical Trials Unit is currently conducting a Randomised trial of adjuvant PVC (procarbazine, lomustine, and vincristine) chemotherapy for anaplastic oligodendroglioma, which is looking at whether adjuvant chemotherapy following surgery and radiotherapy can provide longer and better survival than surgery and radiotherapy alone.

We made clear in the NHS Cancer Plan of September 2000 that by 2003 the Government would be investing an additional £20 million each year in the infrastructure for cancer research. Progress in establishing the National Translational Cancer Research Network (NTRAC) and the National Cancer Research Network (NCRN) has been rapid and substantial. NTRAC is focusing on speeding up

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the processes for getting scientific breakthroughs from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside. NCRN is focusing on doubling the number of cancer patients in clinical trials, including trials of new chemotherapy drugs for brain cancer.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of chemotherapy for patients suffering from brain tumours; and the impact of the treatment upon the life expectancy of brain tumour patients. [46747]

Yvette Cooper: First line treatment for brain tumours is usually surgery and/or radiotherapy. For a patient whose tumour recurs or progresses following surgery and radiotherapy, the chemotherapy treatment options are limited because the currently available agents have only a small chance of being effective.

As indicated in the NHS Cancer Plan, the Department of Health and the National Assembly of Wales are currently considering a proposal for referral to National Institute for Clinical Excellence of service guidance for tumours of the brain and central nervous system.

GP Vacancies

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on progress made in GP recruitment in the last 12 months. [46736]

Mr. Hutton: In the past year we have continued to work closely with the profession on measures to boost general practitioner (GP) numbers and make general practice a better place to work. Good progress has been made. During this period we have boosted recruitment by increasing training places; by recruiting from overseas; and by offering cash incentives, additional training and support to new GPs. We have similarly addressed retention through the revised retainer scheme; by developing flexible career options (especially through personal medical services); through further initiatives to reduce bureaucracy; and by improving GPs' working lives with the introduction of a range of family friendly initiatives. The additional resources which we have made available to the NHS are also enabling primary care trusts and others to give better support to GPs by providing better information technology, better buildings and promoting different ways of working,

Accident and Emergency Departments

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were admitted to wards from accident and emergency departments after arriving in accident and emergency eight or more hours prior to being moved to a ward in the last 12 months. [46703]

Ms Blears: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Health Care Regulations

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps have been taken by his Department to notify medical practitioners who operate exclusively outside the NHS of the requirements of Clause 4(1)(b) of the Private and Voluntary Health Care (England) Regulations 2001, prior to registration packs being sent out to them; [46796]

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Jacqui Smith: The following organisations were among those consulted by the Department prior to the public consultation on the regulations and national minimum standards for exclusively private medical practitioners:

Trade associations for private medical practitioners

The national minimum standards and regulations were developed with the help of an external consultation group comprising users, providers, inspectors, healthcare professionals and specialists. The standards for the different specialties were developed in consultation with appropriate stakeholder organisations, and throughout 2000 and 2001, Dr. Derek Machin, the chair of the BMA group on private practice, assisted in the development of the standards for private medical practitioners.

In early 2001, before the formal consultation period, officials had two meetings with a representative of the Independent Doctors Forum. In July 2001, the regulations and standards were published for a three-month consultation period. The consultation document was also available on the Department's website.

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