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Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the waiting lists are for operations in the Leicestershire health area in each category. 
Yvette Cooper: The table below shows the waiting lists for elective admission by specialty in the Leicestershire Health Authority area as at 31 December 2001the latest published figures that are available:
|Specialty||Ordinary admissions||Day cases|
|Total (all specialties)||8102||8277|
Hospital Waiting List Statistics: England (copies are available in House of Commons Library and on the DoH website at: http://www.doh.gov.uk/waitingtimes/).
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Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Department has spent on research into cystic fibrosis since 1997; and which organisations the Government have met to discuss raising awareness of the disease. 
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Jacqui Smith: The Department funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in health and social care. Since 1997 the Department's expenditure on directly commissioned research projects relating to cystic fibrosis is approximately £394 thousand.
In addition to specific projects, the Department also provides support funding for research commissioned by charities and the research councils that takes place in the National Health Service. Management of much of the research supported by NHS research and development funding is devolved and expenditure at project level is not held centrally by the Department but the total investment is considerably greater than just the spend on directly commissioned projects.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) is the main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatments for disease and receives its funding via the Department of Trade and Industry. The MRC has spent an estimated £8.4 million on cystic fibrosis research since 1997.
The Government met with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in 2001. Discussions included raising awareness of the disease.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children classified as at risk have been killed in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not currently collected centrally. However, we are developing a comprehensive database of all serious case reviews, carried out in accordance with Chapter 8 of Working Together to Safeguard Childrenthe Government's guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, to improve the national recording of serious incidents, including deaths and serious injuries. This will enable us to identify the numbers and types of a range of serious cases, where the children concerned are known to social services Departments.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letter of 5 December 2001 from the hon. Member for Fareham, concerning his constituent Mr. Fred Johnson. 
Yvette Cooper: A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 25 March.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the link between air travel and deep vein thrombosis. 
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 10 April 2002]: We take the health of aircraft passengers and aircrew
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members very seriously. Although further research needs to be carried out into the links between deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and long distance travel, blood clots can occur when people remain immobile and seated for long periods of time and therefore could occur in a range of travel situations.
On 30 November 2001 the Department issued information and advice to the airlines and the public about minimising the risk of DVT during long journeys. This included practical advice for air passengers on long haul flights. It also identified certain groups who may be at a higher risk of DVT and advised them to seek medical advice before travelling and described simple in-seat exercises that should be recommended to all air passengers.
To maximise access for the public to this information and advice it is available through health services, the internet, the airlines and NHS Direct and will be kept under review in the light of new research information.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of whether the PSA target to increase the proportion of departmental business undertaken electronically to 25 per cent by 2002 will be met. 
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Information about progress on PSA targets will be published in the Department's 2002 Departmental Report.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of whether the PSA target for the payment of all undisputed invoices within 30 days or the agreed contractual terms will be met. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Information about progress on PSA targets will be published in the Department's 2002 Departmental Report.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the independence of NICE. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: It has always been our intention that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) should have a large measure of independence from Government and from other interests while remaining visibly a part of the National Health Service. In particular, NICE decides on its own processes for developing its guidance. We have announced in our recently published response to the Kennedy report, that we intend to further strengthen NICE's independence. We will bring forward measures to remove the requirement for approval from the Secretary of State for Health and the National Assembly for Wales for disseminating NICE guidance and for appointments to NICE committees.
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Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the funding of NICE. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The Department has allocated £14.8 million for the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in 20022003.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list for each of the last five years the total amount of money spent by Ministers in his Department on food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for entertainment purposes; 
Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Expenditure arises on hospitality and entertainment only in the context of promoting the Department's business objectives. Departmental information systems do not classify expenditure by Ministers, special advisers or other employment category, nor do information systems provide a detailed breakdown of food and drink.
In the last five years the total amount spent by the Department on hospitality has been as follows:
|200102||£80,077 to 31 December 2001|
To identify expenditure by Ministers or special advisers on food, alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks would involve disproportionate cost.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what meetings he and his Ministers have had with representatives of hospices providing palliative care to children since 7 June 2001. 
Yvette Cooper: Last month I was pleased to meet the management and supporters of the Richard House Children's Hospice in London, on the occasion of the launch of the New Opportunities Fund application process for funding palliative care projects in support of both children and adults. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State previously visited this hospice for its official opening. Last November my noble Friend Lord Hunt met the representatives of two other children's hospices.
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