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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice he has issued to NHS dentists treating sufferers of hepatitis C. 
[holding answer 21 October 2002]: We have issued guidance to the National Health Service in 1998 on protecting clinical health care workers such as dentists from infection with blood-borne viruses, including hepatitis C.
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The General Dental Council (GDC) has issued guidance to dentists which stresses the importance of taking appropriate measures to prevent cross-infection and of taking account of relevant guidance from the Department and the British Dental Association. The GDC has also advised dentists that it is unethical to refuse to treat a patient solely on the grounds that the person has a blood-borne virus or any other transmissible disease or infection.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many PCTs offer interferon combination drugs to hepatitis C sufferers. 
[holding answer on 21 October 2002]: The Department does not hold information centrally on the number of primary care trusts (PCTs) that currently offer combination drug therapy for hepatitis C.
From 1 January 2002, PCTs are under a statutory obligation to provide appropriate funding for treatments or drugs which have been recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting times are for hepatitis C sufferers to see a liver specialist, broken down by strategic regional health authority area. 
[holding answer 21 October 2002]: The Department does not hold information centrally on the average waiting times for patients with hepatitis C to see a specialist.
Patients diagnosed with hepatitis C are likely to be referred to physicians within the gastroenterology or infectious diseases specialities. Average outpatient waiting times for first appointment in these specialties in 20002001 by National Health Service region are shown in the table.
Outpatient waiting times 200102, speciality gastroenterology: Trust based data by Regioneffective length of wait from receipt of general practitioner written referral to first outpatient attendance (weeks)
|Region||Average waiting time
|Northern & Yorkshire||8.1
Outpatient waiting times 200102, speciality infectious diseases: Trust based data by Regioneffective length of wait from receipt of GP written referral to first outpatient attendance (weeks)
|Region||Average waiting time
|Northern & Yorkshire||4.3
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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce screening for hepatitis C. 
[holding answer on 21 October 2002]: Our consultation paper, Hepatitis C Strategy for England, which was published on 14 August 2002, proposes that individuals at increased risk of infection or with otherwise unexplained liver disease should be offered testing for hepatitis C.
The United Kingdom national screening committee has not recommended the introduction of antenatal screening for hepatitis C in the absence of a proven safe and effective intervention to prevent infant infection and limited evidence about the natural history and treatment of children infected with hepatitis C. This advice is in line with United States and European consensus statements. However, antenatal settings might provide an opportunity to offer hepatitis C testing to women at increased risk of infection.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent on hepatitis C public awareness campaigns last year. 
[holding answer on 21 October 2002]: Our consultation paper, Hepatitis C Strategy for England, which was published on 14 August 2002, identifies the need for a campaign to raise public awareness of hepatitis C. This campaign will be developed taking account of responses to the consultation exercise and meetings with stakeholders from the National Health Service and voluntary and community sectors.
In the last financial year, 20012002, we made #90,000 in section 64 grant funding available to the British Liver Trust and Mainliners for activities connected to the provision of information to professionals and the public on hepatitis C. We also produced a hepatitis C briefing pack for health professionals, which included a patient leaflet for use in consultations at a cost of approximately #130,000.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department's estimate is of the number of hepatitis C sufferers; and how many are receiving treatment in the NHS. 
[holding answer 21 October 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on Thursday 2 May 2002, Official Report column 998W and the reply I gave him on Tuesday 14 May 2002, Official Report, column 630W.
Dr. Evan Harris:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list the average daily number of available beds in wards open overnight in all specialities in England in (a) 1979 and (b) 199091 to 199596; 
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(2) if he will list the average daily number of (a) general and acute, (b) acute, (c) day only, (d) mental illness, (e) learning disability and (f) maternity beds open overnight in England in (i) 1979 and (ii) 199091 to 199596. 
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The average daily number of available beds in wards open overnight, by sector, for 1979 and 199091 to 199596 is given in the following table:
(exc. day only)
||General & acute||Acute||Mental illness||Learning
Information on beds open day only were collected from 198788no equivalent data are available for 1979.
Department of Health forms KH03, SH3
Nuclear Power Stations
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what representations his Department has received concerning alleged correlation between instances of leukaemia clusters and nuclear power stations in the UK. 
The Black advisory group was commissioned in 1983, by the then Minister of Health, to investigate reports of a high incidence of leukaemia occurring in young people living in the vicinity of the Sellafield nuclear site. In their report, Black 1984, the advisory group confirmed that there was a higher incidence of leukaemia in young people resident in the area. They also concluded that the estimated radiation dose from the Sellafield discharges and other sources, received by the local population, could not account for the observed leukaemia incidence on the basis of knowledge available at that time. The uncertainties in the available data led the advisory group to make recommendations for further research and investigation.
The committee on medical aspects of radiation in the environment (COMARE) was established in November 1985 in response to the final recommendation of the report of the independent advisory group chaired by Sir Douglas Black. Its terms of reference are to
''assess and advise Government and the Devolved Administrations on the health effects of natural and man-made radiation in the environment and to assess the adequacy of the available data and the need for further research''.
COMARE has now published seven reports and has also published several statements into allegations of cancer clusters around nuclear installations. Details can be found on the committee's web site at www.open.gov.uk/doh/comare.htm
Mr. Barry Gardiner:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what plans his Department has to tackle obesity. 
The Government are committed to tackling the rising trend in obesity. The prevention and management of obesity are at the heart of many of the Government's priority areas, as highlighted in the NHS Plan and national service frameworks, particularly those outlining action on CHD and diabetes. The Department is taking an integrated approach with cross-Government work at national, regional and local levels, where action is focused on improving diet and increasing physical activity levels, and includes:
The Five-a-day programme to increase fruit and vegetable intakes, including the National School Fruit Scheme, and work with industry to increase provision and access.
Initiatives with the food industry (including manufacturers and caterers) to improve the overall balance of diet including salt, fat and sugar in food, working with the Food Standards Agency.
The Food in Schools and National Healthy Schools programmes, addressing food and nutrition in schools.
The Welfare Foods scheme is being reviewed, in line with the NHS Plan commitment to use the resources more effectively to ensure children in poverty have access to a healthy diet.
Increased support for breastfeeding, which is accepted as the best form of nutrition for infants to ensure a good start in life.
PE and sports programmes for young people and the community in general, together with the School Sport Co-ordinator programme.
A new programme for community physical activity pilots, led by primary care trusts.
Guidance issued by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence on anti-obesity drugs and surgery.
Local action to tackle obesity and physical inactivity, informed by advice from the Health Development Agency on what works.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for newspaper, television and radio campaigns concerning obesity, weight loss and healthy living. 
We have no plans to run specific campaigns on obesity, weight loss and healthy living, although we will be extensively publicising the Five-a-day programme from the New Year. We have also funded the British Dietetic Association, as part of
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their Weight Wise campaign, to undertake project work on consumer messages and communication methods relating to weight management.
The prevention and management of obesity are at the heart of many of the Government's priority areas, as highlighted in the NHS Plan and national service frameworks, particularly those outlining action on CHD and diabetes. Other commitments are also likely to have a positive impact on the prevention and management of obesity, including the infant feeding initiative, the national school fruit scheme, the food in schools programme and work with the food industry to address the sugar, fat and salt content of the diet. There is also substantial cross-government work to increase physical activity levels.