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23 Oct 2002 : Column 402W—continued

Drug-resistant Bacterium

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what organisations the Government fund that conduct research into drug resistant bacterium; and if he will list the annual amounts. [73841]

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Mr. Lammy: Information on research into antimicrobial resistance is not collated centrally. The table below shows the estimated spend on drug resistant bacteria for the main Government funding organisations for 2002–03. This research will be carried out by a variety of organisations including university departments, the Public Health Laboratory Service and the Royal Veterinary College. The research councils also support basic research, which underpins work on drug resistance.

Estimated Spend for the Financial Year 2002–03

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council#998,000
Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs#1,630,000
Department of Health#408,000
Food Standards Agency#305,000
Medical Research Council#1,200,000
Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department#233,404
Scottish Executive Health Department#106,000

Public Health Laboratory Service

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of his Department's ability to counter the risks and effects of bioterrorism (a) with the existing Public Health Laboratory Service arrangements, (b) after completion of the reorganisation of the Public Health Laboratory Service and (c) during the transitional period whilst new arrangements settle down; and if he will make a statement. [74815]

Ms Blears: The Department works closely with the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) and with the National Health Service to ensure that biological threats are rapidly identified and dealt with. We are confident that the United Kingdom is as well prepared as any country could be to protect the health of its citizens in the event of bioterrorism.

The transfer of most PHLS general microbiology services to the NHS will strengthen the public health outputs of the NHS. It will also improve surveillance and linkages between human, veterinary, food, water, and environmental surveillance systems, which are essential to identify new events and monitor the effectiveness of interventions.

In considering the transfer of the PHLS laboratories to the NHS, the Department is ensuring that there will be dedicated public health microbiology support at local and regional levels to make sure that incident response and public health surveillance continues.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements will be put in place to require local public health laboratories to respond to requests for information and samples from the central Public Health Laboratory Service after reorganisation; and if he will make a statement. [74810]

Ms Blears: All National Health Service laboratories as well as laboratories in the proposed Health Protection Agency will be able to respond to requests for

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information and samples from one central public health laboratory. These arrangements will be a continuation of the current system.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to visit Public Health Laboratory Service, Colindale. [74808]

Ms Blears: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has no current plans to visit the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS). The then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health (Yvette Cooper) visited the PHLS on 6 November 2000 and I plan to visit on 28 October 2002.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact on the National Vaccination Campaign of the proposals to reorganize the Public Health Laboratory Service; and if he will make a statement. [74812]

Ms Blears: We do not anticipate any negative impact and hopefully there will be positive impact from the incorporation of Public Health Laboratory Service into the proposed new Health Protection Agency. It is clear that the immunisation priorities will remain priorities of the Agency.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements he has made to consult trade unions and professional bodies over the reorganisation of Public Health Laboratory Service. [74816]

Ms Blears: A consultation document on the proposed establishment of the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which would assume many of the functions of the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) and a discussion document about proposals to transfer a number of PHLS laboratories to the National Health Service was issued in June 2002. Both were sent to relevant trades unions and professional bodies.

A trades union liaison group has been established between the relevant trades unions, officials and the current employing organisations to co-ordinate consultation and discussion about the proposed HPA. There are regular meetings with trades unions or professional bodies on a range of relevant issues.


Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations his Department has received concerning the efficiency of systems in place to report results from radiotherapy and X-rays; [75765]

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Ms Blears: The Department has received no representations concerning the efficiency of systems to report results from radiotherapy, X-rays and other diagnostic tests using ionising radiation. The use of ionising radiation in healthcare is governed by legislation.

The Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000, which came into force on 1 January 2001, require that all exposures to ionising radiation are justified and that a clinical evaluation of each exposure is recorded. A major intention of the legislation is to minimise the inappropriate use of ionising radiation in patients' exposures.

The regulations also require that where an employer, such as a trust, believes that a person may have been exposed to a dose of radiation greater than intended, from a repeat diagnostic test or other error, it must report such an incident to the appropriate authority. In England this authority is the Secretary of State's Inspectorate for the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations 2000.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of child patients receive treatment for (a) testicular cancer and (b) acute leukaemia within one month of initial GP referral. [75777]

Ms Blears: The targets of a maximum one month wait from urgent general practitioner referral to first treatment for children's cancers, testicular cancer and acute leukaemia were introduced in December 2001. Central monitoring of the targets began in January 2002 and the table below shows performance for the three cancer sites in the last two quarters for which data are available. The table shows the proportion of patients treated within the target time.

One Month from Urgent Referral to First Treatment

Quarter 4 2001–02Quarter 1 2002–03
Children's cancers100%100%
Testicular cancer92%93.5%
Acute Leukaemia100%99%

Linear Accelerators

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations his Department has received concerning the replacement linear accelerators that have been in service for 11 years or more; [75756]

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Ms Blears: The age of each linear accelerator in service in the National Health Service in January 2001 was published at This lists each linear accelerator installed in the NHS along with the dates when each machine was commissioned. This database is expected to be updated in the next few months and will provide comprehensive details of equipment installed since the introduction of the NHS Cancer Plan, including those provided under the new opportunities fund cancer initiative.

The criteria for replacement of radiotherapy equipment will take into account age and whether spare parts can still be supplied by the original equipment manufacturer. There is no formal recommended replacement age for linear accelerators within the NHS in England. Older equipment is capable of delivering safe and appropriate treatment to many cancer patients. Careful maintenance can ensure that radiotherapy equipment can remain in service for periods in excess of 11 years and this is reflected in the age of some machines identified in the survey. It is recognised however that equipment older than 11 years may not be capable of providing the latest treatment techniques.

Standards regarding maintenance and safety of equipment are high in the United Kingdom and these are met by a combination of local scientific and technical staff and manufacturers providing servicing and quality assurance systems.

The Department is aware of the high cost of radiotherapy equipment and has initiated a number of central purchasing initiatives designed to exploit economies of scale. The new opportunities fund,

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announced in September 1999, funded 42 replacement and 15 additional linear accelerators. The NHS Cancer Plan, published in September 2000, made a commitment for a further 20 replacement and 25 additional linear accelerators to be installed in the NHS by 2004. My

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right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the location of these machines in July 2002. Others will be replaced through local means. The 20 replacement machines under the Cancer Plan have been allocated to the 17 trusts identified in the table.

Strategic Health AuthorityTrustInstallation date
Avon, Gloucestershire & WiltshireGloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust1993
Avon, Gloucestershire & WiltshireUnited Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust1998
Bedfordshire & HertfordshireWest Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust1991
Birmingham & the Black CountryUniversity Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust1991
Greater ManchesterChristie Hospital NHS Trust1987
Hampshire & Isle of WightPortsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust1990
Kent & MedwayMaidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust1994
Norfolk, Suffolk & CambridgeshireAddenbrooke's NHS Trust1994
North Central LondonRoyal Free Hampstead NHS Trust1990
North Central LondonUniversity College London Hospitals NHS Trust1983
Northumberland, Tyne & WearThe Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust1991
Northumberland, Tyne & WearThe Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust1992
Northumberland, Tyne & WearThe Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust1993
Shropshire & StaffordshireNorth Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust1992
South East LondonGuy's & St Thomas' NHS Trust1990
South East LondonGuy's & St Thomas' NHS Trust1993
South YorkshireSheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust1990
Southern West Midlands SouthUniversity Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust1993
Thames ValleyOxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust1991
TrentNottingham City Hospital NHS Trust1993

Final equipment costs are dependent on local circumstances such as equipment specification and are subject to commercial confidentiality. It is therefore not possible to provide accurate costs by individual strategic health authority.

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