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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secre tary of State for Health why there has been a delay in appointing a chief executive for the Health Protection Agency; and when he expects to make an appointment. 
Ms Blears: The original timetable for appointing the Health Protection Agency (HPA) shadow chief executive officer (CEO) had been for the end of October 2002, to enable the incoming shadow chair of the HPA to participate in the appointment procedure.
Following advertisements in the national press and professional journals, it was felt that the field of responses could be strengthened and that, given the importance of the role of the new Agency, the assistance of executive search consultants should be sought to advise on and co-ordinate the appointment. This was undertaken during November and December 2002, enabling competitive interviews to be held in early January.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes he expects in the levels of surveillance of health care associated infections as a consequence of the establishment of the Health Protection Agency and the transfer of microbiology services from the public health laboratory service to NHS laboratories. 
Ms Blears: As the establishment of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) will not change the current national system for surveillance of health care associated infections, we do not expect any difference in the levels of surveillance.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what transitional funding will be allocated to the Health Protection Agency in 200304 to cover redundancies; and what estimate he has made of the number of likely redundancies. 
Ms Blears: Decisions have not yet been made on the Department of Health central budget programme for 200304 so the overall sum available to the Health Protection Agency including funding for any redundancies is not yet finalised. The HPA will not be able to agree its organisational structures until after its board has been appointed, so staff could not be identified as being at risk of redundancy until then. If staff are identified as being at risk they will be guaranteed employment for a period of 12 months from 1 April 2003 under the agreed change management protocol.
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Ms Blears: We received over 200 written responses to the consultation paper on the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Our decision to proceed with the HPA's creation, first as a special health authority and subsequently as a non-departmental public body, takes account of the widespread support for establishing the HPA.
Because the consultation paper set out proposals for creating the HPA by Regulatory Reform Order, it did not simply invite views on general principles but made relatively detailed proposals about the nature of the legislation needed. Many of the responses similarly made detailed points. We are continuing to consider these points in deciding on the details of the legislation to establish the agency. We aim to publish a report on the consultation exercise at the same time as our proposals for changes to primary legislation, since at that stage we shall best be able to show how we have taken into account the detailed points made.
Ms Blears: There are approximately 2,460 specialist palliative care beds in the voluntary sector and 598 beds in the national health service in the United Kingdom. The bed capacity in East Cheshire NHS Trust area is 15.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what legal requirements there are for consultation with future HPA staff on changes to terms and conditions; if these consultations will be required; and whether they will be completed by 1 April. 
Ms Blears: Staff transferring to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) will retain their terms and conditions of employment, which apply at the time of transfer, until harmonised terms and conditions of employment are agreed with recognised trade unions. The HPA, as a special health authority, will adopt national health service terms and conditions of employment for new employees.
It is the intention to establish the HPA as an non departmental public body when legislative time permits. It would then be a matter for the HPA board to determine, subject to consultation, what terms and conditions will apply.
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Ms Blears: The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) reviews and monitors compliance with the national infection control standard for acute trusts during their routine clinical governance reviews. The CHI undertakes a rolling four-year inspection of hospital trusts' systems and processes for monitoring and improving services. These clinical governance reviews, among other things, assess the compliance with national standards and identifies where further action needs to be taken. Conversely, the CHI also praises and highlights best practice from which the rest of the National Health Service can learn. As at 24 January 2003, CHI had completed 220 clinical governance reviews across a range of NHS bodies.
Health Protection: A Consultation Document on creating a health protection agency (June 2002), proposed that the Health Protection Agency (HPA) "will work with the Commission for Health Improvement where there are serious deficiencies in standards of infection control in hospitals, primary care or other health care premises" (paragraph 4.12).
Having considered the responses to the consultation, we aim to establish the HPA as a special health authority from 1 April 2003 and subsequently as a non-departmental public body when legislative time allows. The powers to be given to the HPA will be a matter for the legislation: it remains our intention that it should be able to work with the CHI and subsequently with the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost to NHS providers in the Thames Valley area during 200304 of implementing planned reductions in junior doctors' hours. 
Mr. Hutton: Disregarding annual inflationary awards, we estimate that reducing all junior doctors' hours to below 56 per week will result in a saving to the national health service pay bill of some 15 million between 200304 and 200405.
This saving must be offset against potential costs where it may be necessary to either employ more doctors or other staff to cover hours lost or to make appropriate alternative service provision. This will be dependent on local circumstances and will differ from trust to trust and area to area.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library the Medicines Control Agency's (a) analysis of consumers' reasons for using Kava-kava, and potential hazards created by regulating kava-kava off the market and (b) assessment of consumers accessing Kava-kava product of unknown quality via the Internet and other direct marketing strategies. 
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could only lawfully have been sold without any written indications. Traditionally Kava-kava has been used to treat anxiety, tension, restlessness and bladder discomfort. However, consumers may use Kava-kava for many reasons. The test for making a prohibition order under section 62 of the Medicines Act 1968 is whether this is necessary in the interests of safety.
Any website reported to the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) that appears to be in breach of regulations regarding advertising, sale and supply of medicines is investigated. The MCA works closely with other Government Departments and law enforcement authorities, both in the United Kingdom and abroad, in an effort to identify and take action where appropriate.
There is evidence, both from the UK and internationally, that some unlicensed herbal remedies may be of poor quality and in some cases may pose a threat to public health. However, this problem is not restricted to products sold on the internet or via other direct marketing strategies. Subject to the successful conclusion of negotiations, the proposed Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products would provide a regulatory regime, which should allow the public to choose from a wide range of herbal remedies, made to assured standards of safety, quality and information. In turn this would make it possible for the public to be given much clearer advice than is currently possible about how to avoid unregulated herbal medicines which may pose a risk to health.
A number of papers are available in the Library relating to the considerations which led to The Medicines for Human Use (Kava-kava) (Prohibition) Order 2002. Beyond these the MCA does not hold additional analyses covering the issues raised in this question.