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Paediatric Oncology

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many paediatric oncology units there are within the NHS; [81932]

Ms Blears: Specialist cancer care for children is concentrated in a national network of paediatric oncology centres, under the umbrella of the United Kingdom children's cancer study group (UKCCSG). There are 16 National Health Service paediatric oncology centres in England. These are:

Paediatric oncology centres provide specialist and complex treatment for children with cancer. In addition, there are paediatric oncology shared care units around the country that can provide support, including certain

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investigations and treatment, nearer to the child's home. This reduces travelling and disruption to families, without compromising quality of care or outcome and provides support to the paediatric oncology centres. The Department does not hold details of this type of unit.

The Cancer Plan set out the Government's commitment that an extra £570 million would be made available for cancer services by 2003–4. The Department does not collect figures on the cost of services provided by the NHS in a way that enables an accurate estimate of funding for paediatric oncology to be calculated.

Pain Management

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review his policy regarding the parallel use of opiate pain killers and strong sedatives with older people. [80116]

Mr. Lammy: The older people's national service framework (NSF), which was developed with input from front-line staff and patients and published in March 2001, describes how the use of medicines for and by older people can be improved. The aim is to ensure that older people:

The NHS Plan set a target for all primary care trusts to have schemes in place so that, by 2004, people get more help from pharmacists in using their medicines.

Opiates are liable to abuse and diversion. They are subject to the controls required by the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1985. Some painkillers, for example diamorphine, are classified as schedule 2 controlled drugs. Accordingly there are strict controls over prescription, requisition, storage and supply.

The general principles for the safe and secure handling of medicines are covered, for primary and secondary care, by the Department's controls assurance standard. The systems for clinical and cost effective use of medicines are covered by the Department's medicines management performance management framework.

Local treatment guidelines, including those for strong opiates and sedatives, should be in place and overseen by local drug and therapeutics committees.

Public Health Laboratories

Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what cost benefit analysing has been carried out of the transfer of public health laboratories to host NHS trusts. [82141]

Ms Blears: The benefits of transferring laboratories of the Public Health Laboratory Service to national health service trusts include:

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The transfers are being implemented at no overall cost.

Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will give a breakdown by unit of NHS funding allocated to the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, Brighton; [81920]

Ms Blears: I am advised by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals National Health Service Trust that the budget for the Royal Alexandra Hospital for 2002–03 is £9.69 million. The breakdown of funding is as follows:

These are rounded figures so the combined total will not match the total budget.

The total budget for paediatric oncology for 2002–03 is £664,000. This represents an increase of 8.85 per cent., on the budget for 2001–02.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on nursing and medical staff vacancies at The Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, Brighton; and what measures are being taken by his Department to fill them; [81922]

Ms Blears: I am advised by Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority that Royal Alexandra hospital, part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospital's National Health Service Trust, currently has a vacancy rate of 11 per cent.. Of staff working specifically in oncology, the vacancy rate is currently 17 per cent.

Recruitment to staff vacancies is undertaken locally, building on the Government's national recruitment campaign and other initiatives to improve recruitment and retention. Local recruitment measures include advertisements in the professional nursing press targeted at paediatric specialist staff. Furthermore, extra places in the staff creche are soon to come on stream, increased rates of pay for bank nurses are being examined and more flexible working patterns are being introduced. Additionally, the Royal Alexandra hospital is due to run a recruitment fair on 5 December.


Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when his Department will adopt rules for the use

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of (a) colour photographs and (b) other illustrations to depict and explain the health consequences of smoking, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 10 (2) of the EU Tobacco Directive. [81681]

Ms Blears: Article 11 of the European Union Directive on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products requires the European Commission to adopt rules concerning the use of pictorial health warnings on tobacco products by 31 December 2002. The Department is working with the European Commission to develop the use of these warnings.

St. George's Hospital

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many operations were cancelled at St. George's Hospital, Tooting, in the last 12 months. [81670]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is shown in the table.

Number of last minute cancellations for non-clinical reasons by quarter—St. George's Healthcare NHS Trust.

Year QuarterLast minute cancellations


Department of Health form QMNG /QMCO

A last minute cancellation is one that occurs on the day a patient is due to go into hospital or after they have arrived in hospital or on the day of their operation.

TB Action Plan

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will publish an action plan on TB. [81773]

Ms Blears: In the Chief Medical Officer's (CMO's) recent report, XGetting Ahead of the Curve", tuberculosis was identified as a key infectious disease problem requiring intensified control measures to reduce illness and death.

A new updated and targeted action plan will be submitted to the CMO by the end of 2002.

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