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Motor Neurone Disease

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research into motor neurone disease the Government are funding; and what financial assistance the Government gives to the Motor Neurone Disease Association. [60764]

Ms Blears: The main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatment for disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The Department also funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the national health service.

The MRC spent £1.4 million in 2001–02 on research relevant to motor neurone disease (MND) and on basic work on the function of motor neurones. The MRC also support a large portfolio of basic research into the biology of the brain and the nervous system in both normal and diseased states. Such studies may well have relevance to the treatment of MND and related conditions in the future.

The Department has also supported work in this area. Recent research projects include the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of riluzole for the treatment of motor neurone disease that completed in August 2000. There is an on-going project on speech recognition for people with severe dysarthria (dysarthria is the inability to articulate speech and is common in MND patients) which is due for completion in July 2003.

The Government give no financial assistance to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Capital Projects

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the 35 per cent. design component of his Department's capital projects. [60318]

Mr. Hutton: In order to evaluate tenders from bidders a preliminary invitation to negotiate (PITN) is sent out. The bidder's response to each question on the PITN is allocated a score and weighted percentage. 35 per cent. is the percentage mark attributed to the weighting of the design component.

Consultant Waiting Times

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether there was a change in the basis for calculating the numbers of people waiting 13 weeks or more to see a consultant between the statistics for 31 December 2001 and those for 31 March 2002; and if he will make a statement. [60458]

Mr. Hutton: There have been no changes in the basis for calculating out-patient over 13 week waiters since data collection started in 1994. The data collected refer to the waiting time from general practitioners written referral to first out-patient appointment.

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Voluntary Hospices

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what powers he has to direct voluntary hospices. [60850]

Ms Blears: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has no powers to direct voluntary hospices.

Palliative Care

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money was earmarked for palliative care for the three years ending 2003–04 (a) for the central south coast area and (b) for each other part of England; and how much of each sum was (i) committed and (ii) spent in 2001–02. [60847]

Ms Blears: The Government have pledged in the NHS cancer plan that funding for specialist palliative care services, including hospices, will increase by £50 million per annum by 2004. This investment is included in the overall national health service investment for implementing the cancer plan. How the £50 million is deployed locally will depend on the needs of the area. Cancer networks have drawn up service delivery plans on palliative care to review the level of services offered in their area and these will ensure that each network has a range of palliative care services available. We are currently reviewing the outturn position for 2001–02 and the progress in that year.

Departmental Expenditure Limit

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much and what proportion of the departmental expenditure limit for 2002–03 had been spent by 31 May; what the figures were for 2001–02; and if he will make a statement. [61006]

Mr. Lammy: Reliable estimates for 2002–03 spending to 31 May are not available. Estimated outturn spending figures for 2001–02 can be found in "Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2002–03", published in May 2002 as command paper Cm 5401.

Staff Training

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Department has spent on staff training and development in each of the last five years. [61067]

Mr. Lammy: Spend on training and development in the Department for the last five years has been as follows:


Hospital Appointments

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what restrictions will apply to the ability of patients and general practitioners to book hospital appointments at a time and place of the patient's convenience. [61429]

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Mr. Hutton: On 6 December 2001, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health announced proposals to give patients choice over where they are treated in the national health service.

By 2005, all patients and their general practitioners will be able to book hospital appointments at both a time and place that is convenient to the patient. This might include local NHS hospitals, NHS hospitals or diagnostic and treatment centres elsewhere, private hospitals, private diagnostic and treatment centres, or even hospitals overseas. Lessons learned in pilots will be taken forward in the arrangements that operate from 2005.

General Practitioner Contract

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what diseases will qualify for quality payments under the tiered system outlined in the general practitioner contract. [61421]

Mr. Hutton: The new general medical services contract framework agreement sets out the principles of how the new quality framework will work. The national health service confederation and the general practitioner committee of the British Medical Association are continuing to negotiate the detailed clinical and organisational standards and levels and will make them public in due course.

Nurses (Assaults)

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many physical assaults against nurses were recorded in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000 and (e) 2001; [61449]

Mr. Hutton: Violence against any member of staff working in the national health service is unacceptable. Significant action has been taken at both national and local levels to tackle the problem of violence as part of the cross-Government NHS zero tolerance zone campaign. This includes the issuing of new sentencing guidelines to magistrates courts, the publication of new guidelines on the withholding of treatment from violent and abusive patients and, for the first time ever, the allocation of central funding to support the large number of local initiatives being introduced to protect staff. A distance learning package developed specifically to support nurses in dealing with violence has also been issued jointly with the Royal College of Nursing.

Information on the levels of violent incidents by individual staff group is not collected centrally, but may be held at a local level by NHS employers. The results of the 2000–01 survey of reported violent or abusive incidents, accidents involving staff and sickness absence in NHS trust and health authorities, in England, have been placed in the Library, along with a report setting out the Government's proposed action in the light of the findings.

"Delivering the NHS Plan—next steps on investment, next steps on reform" included the commitment to ensure that all general practitioners have access to secure services

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for the treatment of violent patients, and the Government will be providing extra resources to primary care trusts to deal with violent patients.

Officials have worked closely with the Royal College of Nursing, UNISON and other staff representative bodies on the development of each stage of the zero tolerance campaign, and will continue to do so.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the contribution of medical science and education to the pharmaceutical industry. [61464]

Ms Blears: The Government recognise that education and the science base are important factors in maintaining the attractiveness of the UK as a location for the research and development (R&D) pharmaceutical industry. Last year the Government published, jointly with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, a set of competitiveness and performance indicators which will be used to monitor trends in UK competitiveness as a location for the R&D pharmaceutical industry. Baseline data collected show that in the late 1990s the number of graduates in medical sciences from UK universities was similar to that in Germany and rather greater than in other European countries. Data also show that the UK Government spends more on R&D in health fields than does any other European Government. Copies of the Pharmaceutical Industry Competitiveness Task Force (PICTF)—Competitiveness and Performance Indicators 2001 report are available in the Library.

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