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Diagnostic and Treatment Centres

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if pre-existing plans for new hospitals, which already include the elements of diagnostic and treatment centres, will be fast-tracked when submitted for capital funding from the diagnostic and treatment centre funding programme; [66825]

Mr. Hutton: We committed ourselves in the NHS Plan to having eight diagnostic and treatment centres up and running by 2004 with a further 12 in development.

On 21 February 2002, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Health, announced the first wave of eight diagnostic and treatment centres. One of these is The Chase Hospital, Bordon, part of the North Hampshire Primary Care Trust. The Department has allocated £700,000 to North Hampshire Primary Care Trust to support this development.

We are now looking to expand and bring forward the diagnostic and treatment centre programme further in order to grow capacity and reduce waiting times. We have asked the NHS to put forward proposals. In certain cases this may result in the acceleration of all or part of existing proposals for hospital development. The proposals may also include additional diagnostic and treatment centres established by primary care trusts.

Capital funding will be available to support the development of some of these diagnostic and treatment centres. Some proposals will involve working with, and/or funding from the private sector.

Smallpox Vaccine

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much of the smallpox contract awarded to Powderject is estimated to represent profit for Powderject. [67547]

Mr. Hutton: The Department has made no such estimate. Before letting the contract to Powderject, the prices offered by other companies for similar products were compared, and comparisons were made with the price being paid by the United States Government for its smallpox vaccine. On the basis of consideration of all the price information available relating to similar products, the vaccine was deemed to represent value for money.

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Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason he has chosen to purchase a smallpox vaccine which is of a different strain from that ordered by the US Administration. [67544]

Mr. Hutton: The choice of smallpox vaccine strain took into account expert advice under the auspices of a specially convened sub-group of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The advice of the JCVI sub-group was that there was no difference between the two strains on scientific grounds. Vaccines based on both strains were considered to have been effective in the past. However, the JCVI sub-group concluded that there was a greater body of evidence to demonstrate the efficacy of the Lister strain rather than for the New York City Board of Health strain, and that the smallpox vaccine has been challenged in the field more often by the more severe form of smallpox (variola major) with the strain chosen by the United Kingdom Government. The JCVI sub-group also recommended that using a different strain of vaccine from that used in the United States offered the greatest safeguard if difficulties arose with the production of either strain, ensuring that the alternative strain could act as a fallback.

NHS Hospital Trusts

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS hospital trusts have been merged in the last five years. [67185]

Mr. Hutton: A list of national health service trusts which have been involved in major reconfigurations over the last five years has been placed in the Library. Most of these have merged by dissolution and establishment of new trusts, but there are also absorption mergers and parts of NHS trusts involved in the formation of new NHS trusts and primary care trusts.

Health Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the outcome was of the Health Council held on 26 June; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [67732]

Mr. Hutton: I represented the UK at the Health Council in Luxembourg on 26 June 2002.

The Council debated the Commission's package of proposals for review of pharmaceutical legislation, covering the authorisation of medicinal products through a centralised authorisation procedure and the constitution of the management board of the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA). No conclusions were reached.

During discussions of the framework convention on tobacco control, the Commission along with the incoming Danish presidency, urged member states to be flexible to allow the adoption of a strong European Union position for the next round of negotiations in Geneva in October. Some member states called for high level political input to seek to avoid adoption of a position that simply represented the lowest common denominator. The United Kingdom remains a supporter of a strong and effective convention.

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Council conclusions on patient mobility were adopted; with the Commission expected to bring forward proposals during the Danish presidency.

The rest of the agenda covered the presentation of new dossiers or updates on the progress of current legislation. The Commission presented a draft directive on the safety of tissues and cells, to complement the current one on blood safety, as well as one on traditional medicines. There were also two recommendations: one on smoking prevention and tobacco control and another on the reduction of risks associated with drug dependence.

Details of these and other agenda items are set out in the table which will be placed in the Library. No votes were taken on any issue before the Council.

Renal Dialysis

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase the training of new doctors and nurses in order to staff the opening of new renal stations; and when he expects to provide additional dialysis in east Lancashire. [69163]

Jacqui Smith: The NHS plan commits the national health service to 7,500 more consultants and 20,000 extra nurses by 2004. As part of this expansion programme, the north-west deanery are planning a 15 per cent. increase during this year in the number of specialist registrar posts dedicated to the specialty of nephrology. This will support the renal development programme established for Lancashire and south Cumbria.

Nurses required to support the new renal stations at Chorley have been recruited through a process of internal recruitment within the United Kingdom together with an overseas recruitment campaign. The same approach will be adopted for the future planned developments at Blackpool and Burnley.

The Burnley Unit is a private finance initiative scheme which is expected to be commissioned during 2005, and in conjunction with the developments at Chorley and Blackpool, will significantly enhance the 'take-up' rates for each Lancashire from the current level of 73 per million to the planned 'take-up' rate of 90 per million by 2005.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what impact the opening of new renal stations in Lancashire will have on the number of patients at Royal Preston hospital; and if he will make a statement. [69217]

Jacqui Smith: The new renal facility at Chorley and South Ribble district general hospital is due to become operational in August 2002, and is expected to provide for 48 additional patients dialysing three times per week. Initially, patients currently being treated in Manchester hospitals will be given the choice of relocating to the new facility at Chorley. The facilities at Chorley are expected to achieve capacity by 31 March 2004.

Once the new unit becomes operational, the Royal Preston hospital can then ensure that more clinically appropriate patients are managed at what is the main Lancashire renal centre, while the service also increases its 'take-on' rate for new patients.

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Social Services

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the net expenditure of each social services authority in England was in each year since 1990–91 at 2000–01 prices excluding expenditure on places in the private and voluntary homes sector; and what the percentage increase was in each year since 1990–91; [69716]

Jacqui Smith: Tables have been placed in the Library which provide the information requested except for net expenditure on places in the private and voluntary homes sector by local authorities for the years 1990–91 to 1993–94 (inclusive) and 2000–01 which is not available centrally.

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