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4 Feb 2003 : Column 226W—continued

Prisoners (Mental Health)

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prisoners with mental health problems are awaiting transfer to secure hospitals; and what proportion have been waiting (a) for up to three months, (b) between three and six months, (c) between six months and a year and (d) more than a year. [93304]

Jacqui Smith: Data are not currently collected in the form requested. However, between 1 October and 31 December 2002, 651 prisoners were identified by health care staff in prisons as requiring mental health assessment for possible transfer to secure hospital. In that same period 258 prisoners were transferred. The

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position on 31 December 2002 was that, of those accepted and waiting for a transfer to hospital, 33 had waited longer than three months.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidelines are in place to moderate the levels of salt in processed food. [94285]

Ms Blears: There are no guidelines in operation at the present time on moderating the levels of salt in processed foods.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition is currently considering whether the evidence on dietary salt and health has altered since it was looked at in 1994 by the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition. Salt intakes by adults are currently recommended to reduce by around 30 per cent. A final report on this is expected to be published in the spring. In anticipation of the report, the Food Standards Agency and the Department are currently engaged in discussions with the food industry about salt reductions in processed foods already achieved and the scope for further reductions.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) obligatory and (b) voluntary packaging symbols exist to advise consumers of salt levels in processed food. [94286]

Ms Blears: The use of symbols or logos to advise consumers of salt levels is not obligatory. The Government do not collate information on the voluntary use of symbols on packaging.

Under current food law, nutrition labelling of foods is voluntary unless a nutrition claim about the food is made. Where claims are made about the quantity of salt present in packaged food, either in words of by using voluntary logos or symbols, full nutrition information must be given. The Food Standards Agency is pressing for European Union rules to require compulsory nutrition labelling (including a declaration of salt content) on all foods, and in a format that is consumer friendly. Consumer research is being carried out to determine the ideal content and format of the nutrition label.

Service Delivery Agreement

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when his Department's service delivery agreement for 2003 to 2006 will be published. [94122]

Mr. Lammy: The Department of Health, as one of the four key delivery departments has agreed a combined public service agreement (PSA) delivery contract with the Prime Minister's delivery unit and Her Majesty's Treasury.

A Department's service delivery agreement (SDA) would typically serve to supplement the PSA by describing how the targets contained in the PSA will be achieved over the course of the agreement. The Department has set out its approach to delivery in a key publication, "Improvement, Expansion and Reform: Priorities and Planning Framework 2003–06", which can be found on the Department's website and will be linked to Her Majesty's Treasury's website as its SDA.

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Sickness Absence

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the rate of staff (a) absenteeism and (b) sickness was in his Department and each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies in each year from 1990–91 to 2002–03; what the target set is for his Department; and if he will make a statement. [93500]

Mr. Lammy: In respect of absenteeism in the Department of Health, the information requested is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The information requested regarding sickness in the Department is shown in the table.

Average(7) days lost per employee through sickness in the Department of Health and its agenciesTargets set for reducing sickness absence in the Department of Health (days)

(7) Working days absences exclude weekends and bank holidays for staff working a Monday to Friday week.

2 Combined data for the Departments of Health and Social Security continued to be collected by the then Department of Social Security (DSS) following the break up of the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS). Separate figures are not available for the Department of Health.

(8) Not available.

(9) Not published.

The information for non-departmental public bodies is not collected centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Speech Therapists

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to encourage the study of speech therapy and the take-up of speech therapy positions. [93139]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 28 January 2003]: The Government are implementing a range of measures to improve recruitment and retention of all staff, including speech therapists. These include an increase in pay, encouraging the national health service to become a better employer through the Improving Working Lives and Positively Diverse programmes, increasing training commissions, reducing student attrition, running national and local recruitment and return to practice campaigns and supporting international recruitment where appropriate.

Further information on Improving Working Lives is available at These measures are being implemented nationally.

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David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff have been contacted from third-parties by TENYAS in the past 12 months; and what their duties were. [93780]

Jacqui Smith: Tees, East and North Yorkshire Ambulance Service National Health Service Trust (TENYAS) has requested assistance from the St. John's Ambulance Service on three occasions during 2002.

In addition, TENYAS has a service agreement with the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service. During January 2003, a crew based at the Hull Royal Infirmary helped in the assistance of inter-hospital transfer of patients.

Three-star Hospitals

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many three star hospitals there are in (a) the north west and (b) England. [94041]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 28 January 2003]: The most recent performance ratings, published in July 2002, included a total of 46 three-star hospital trusts in England. Of these, nine were in the north west of England.

Tobacco Regulatory Council

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to establish a tobacco regulatory authority. [93683]

Ms Blears: Given the trans-national nature of tobacco, we believe that much of the work of a tobacco regulatory authority is best carried out at a European level. There are therefore no plans to establish such an authority at present in the United Kingdom. The Government will, however, keep this situation under review.

In the meantime, the Government is committed to regulating tobacco and recently introduced legislation to transpose the Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC). This new legislation will require greater information on the content, emissions and effects of tobacco to be displayed on packets of tobacco; and information on the ingredients and additives in tobacco products and their purpose and effect to be disclosed to Government.

Waiting Times (Hull and East Riding)

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients admitted to accident and emergency departments in Hull and East Riding waited more than 12 hours before being treated in each of the last two quarters for which figures are available. [92903]

Mr. Lammy: Data are not collected for individual hospitals. The average waiting time for outpatients attending Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals National Health Service Trust is nine weeks. The maximum outpatient waiting time will reduce to 21 weeks by March 2003.

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David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people waited over 12 months for an operation in Hull and the East Riding in the last year for which figures are available. [92906]

Jacqui Smith: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) date indicate that 3,505 people waited more than 12 months in Hull and East Riding in financial year 2001–02.

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