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Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the future of the Cancer Centre at Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood. [59590]

Ms Blears: The recommendations of the review steering group were made on 29 May 2002 to the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority in its capacity as host health authority for the Mount Vernon Cancer Network. The health authority will consider the Mount Vernon Long-Term Cancer Review Report in the context of its acute services review which is not yet completed.

The recommendations are:

The review group's recommendation is that a new integrated cancer centre be established on the site of a new hospital in Hertfordshire. This would include the clinical specification set out in the report (pages 27–32) and an ambulatory radiotherapy unit on the Mount Vernon site. The centre should also have a major research and education facility. This is strongly recommended as the preferred option of the review group.

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In the interim period before this new hospital is built, it is absolutely essential that there is significant investment on the Mount Vernon site to maintain and develop the excellent services it currently provides. The review group notes that the case for such investment has been accepted by the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire StHA.

The group accepts that Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire StHA may not be able to commit itself to the creation of a new hospital in Hertfordshire and reluctantly recognises that there has to be a reserve position. In these circumstances it would accept the need for the StHA to consider an integrated cancer centre on either the Watford General, Hemel Hempstead or Queen Elizabeth II DGH sites. This is solely on the condition that the full range of services (pages 27–32) to complement an integrated cancer centre is available on the selected site.

The steering group is unable to recommend development of the future cancer centre on the Mount Vernon site as it is not consistent with the principles underlying the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire StHA acute services review, nor in line with the cancer and acute service strategies in this part of North West London and runs the risk of destabilising local services. In reaching this recommendation, the group was conscious of the esteem in which Mount Vernon is held and the loyalty of its staff. The group was aware of the impact on research in the interim period.

Staff and press briefings were held on 29 May 2002 with an MP briefing scheduled for 12 June 2002 following the Whitsun recess.

Mental Health

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are being taken within primary care trust areas to ensure that sufficient information is given to mental health service users to enable them to make informed choices before drugs are prescribed and throughout treatment. [60565]

Jacqui Smith: Empowering patients to take an active role in their care is a key theme in the NHS Plan. We know that people are more likely to take their medicines correctly when they understand and agree with their treatment, and have been active partners in prescribing decisions. 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 are also investing in medicines management services including through the medicines management collaborative hosted by the national prescribing centre.

These actions are underscored by standards two and three of the national service framework for mental health and by targets set for those with severe mental illness in the service and financial framework for 2001–02 and the priorities and planning framework for 2002–03; they set out how copies of care plans should be provided for patients. The task force on medicines partnership, established in January 2002, also aims to improve the use of medicines in the National Health Service by involving patients as partners in prescribing decisions and supporting them in medicine-taking.

In addition, all National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) appraisals and guidance have sections designed for patients themselves to provide up to date

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information on the management of their conditions to help them make informed choices about their treatment. Information about this is available from the NICE website at:


Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made as to the impact on (a) children and (b) adults of being chronically exposed to loud noise. [60659]

Ms Blears: As part of a joint programme with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health commissioned a research programme designed to study the non-auditory health effects of noise.

Five research projects were funded under this programme, three of which concentrated on the non- auditory effects of noise on children at school and in the home, one concentrated on the effects of occupational noise and the fifth concentrated on noise and insomnia.

The five projects have recently completed and reported, and the results of the research will be discussed with colleagues from other Departments later in the year.

Full details of the study are available on the Department's website at aipolh.htm.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of extra spending announced for the NHS in the recent Budget will be allocated for treatment of and research into strokes. [60128]

Jacqui Smith: As a result of the Budget, the national health service in England will receive an annual average real-terms growth in resources of 7.4 per cent. for the five years from 2003–04 to 2007–08. Decisions about allocation of this increased funding will be announced later this year.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is the main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatments for disease. The MRC spent £3.4 million on stroke research in 2000–01 and does not anticipate a major change to this level of support.

Departmental Polices (Hull, North)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what impact his Department's policies have had on the Kingston upon Hull, North constituency since 1997. [60548]

Jacqui Smith: Detailed information on the impact of Department's policies nationally is set out in the Department's annual reports. A copy of the most recent report "Department of Health—Government Expenditure Plans 2001–02" is available in Library and on the Department of Health website at dhreport

The impact of policies is not examined by constituency.

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Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what analysis his Department has undertaken of the risks of passing Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease to recipients of a smallpox vaccine made from bovine cell culture. [44007]

Ms Blears [holding answer 26 March 2002]: We are not aware that the manufacture of any smallpox vaccine prepared in the past utilised virus culture in bovine cell lines.

If a manufacturer wished to produce smallpox vaccine using virus culture in bovine cells, the appropriate regulatory guidance on cell characterisation and storage would have to be followed.

European legislation demands that an application for marketing authorisation of a medicinal product in the European Union must include satisfactory demonstration of compliance with the European note for guidance on minimising the risk of transmitting animal spongiform encephalopathy agents via human and veterinary medicinal products.


Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what financial targets have been set for Inventures. [50805]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 18 April 2002]: The Department sets NHS Estates key tasks and targets on an annual basis. These targets are agreed with Ministers. One of these targets requires the agency (including Inventures) to achieve a cumulative operating surplus on ordinary activities before interest and dividends of at least 0.6 per cent. of the value of sales during the period from 1 April 1999 to March 2003.

Inventures is essentially a consultancy business employing approximately 270 staff with an annual turnover of approximately £15 million. It provides a wide variety of property services including planning, financing, procuring and managing all aspects of healthcare environment and estates. Its primary customers are the Department of Health and national health service trusts.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of cardiac care units in the NHS operate upper age limits or other restrictions in accessing heart by-pass operations on grounds of age; and what percentage of units have age-related policies for treatment of thrombosis. [55318]

Ms Blears [holding answer 10 May 2002]: It is an underlying principle of national health service care that access to services is based on clinical need alone. Cardiac care units have been informed that it is unacceptable to limit access on the basis of age. We are not aware of any NHS cardiac care unit or other NHS cardiac service that currently restricts access to its services on the basis of age.

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