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3 Jun 2003 : Column 376W—continued

Overview and Scrutiny Committees

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to issue guidance for setting up local authority health OSC committees. [116744]

Mr. Lammy: "Overview and Scrutiny of Health — Guidance" was published on 20 May 2003. Copies have been placed in the Library.


Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to permit pharmacists to supply prescriptions in quantities of 28 pills when 30 have been prescribed. [115691]

Mr. Lammy: We have made clear we will look at allowing the 'rounding' of prescriptions for 28 or 30 doses and multiples thereof, to increase the number of prescriptions which can be dispensed in whole patient packs. We will discuss this with the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee in the context of our overall desire to simplify the rules governing their reimbursement for medicines supplied on the national health service.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost to the NHS of the disposal of broken patient packs by pharmacists in each of the last three years. [115694]

Mr. Lammy: Information is available only about the total cost of broken bulk payments. These are payments made to pharmacies for medicines which remain unused six months after the pharmacy has purchased the minimum quantity necessary to dispense a prescription. The available information is shown in the table.

£ million

Resource figureCash figure

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the potential of bar coding medicine packs for transfer to prescription forms. [115695]

Mr. Lammy: The Prescription Pricing Authority operates high-speed machines to count and number prescription forms as they are received. This is necessary in order to calculate advance payments to community pharmacies and to ensure that any individual prescription form can be retrieved from storage if required, for example, for the purposes of investigating fraud. These machines could not operate if bar codes from medicine packs were transferred to prescription forms.

Primary Care Trusts

Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what annual salaries are paid to the senior officers of the primary care trusts serving East Lancashire. [116131]

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Jacqui Smith: Information on the salaries of individual primary care trust managers is not available centrally.

PCTs are required to disclose in their published accounts details of the remuneration of senior managers.

Prison Doctors

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prison doctors are employed full-time in prisons in England and Wales. [116710]

Jacqui Smith: As of 1 May 2003, there were 65 full-time prison doctors employed by the Prison Service in England and Wales.

Although the majority of other doctors working in prisons would be employed by the national health service, detailed information is not held centrally.

Public Bodies

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 26 February 2003, Official Report, column 645W, on public bodies, whether estimates of costing have been undertaken on the reorganisation from the Commission for Health Improvement and the National Care Standards Commission to the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection and the Social Services Inspectorate; and if he will place copies of the estimates in the Library. [113698]

Jacqui Smith: I refer the hon. Member to the explanatory notes in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill, which is available in the Library. These estimate the total cost of establishing the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection and the Commission for Social Care Inspection as being in the region of £22 million.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 292W, on secondments, how many individuals have been seconded to his Department from the private sector since 1997, in each case listing (a) from which organisation and (b) the dates of the secondment. [114173]

Mr. Lammy: The Department has no records of any secondments from the private sector.

Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. [115863]

Mr. Lammy: We have defined long-term sick leave to be—absence from work due to sickness for a period of 90 days and over.

The information requested is shown in the table.

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Financial Year(57)Number

(57) Staff on long term sick leave

Staff members whose absence spans from one year to another are counted again in the second year.

Suicide Prevention Strategy

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the progress made by the Suicide Prevention Strategy. [114789]

Jacqui Smith: Implementation of the national suicide prevention strategy for England is being taken forward by the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMHE) as one of its core programmes of work. NIMHE is in the process of developing partnerships across Government and its agencies, and with other organisations to ensure a co-ordinated approach at a national level. A number of NIMHE's development centres have appointed mental health promotion and suicide prevention leads to ensure successful implementation and ownership at a local level.

Much of the initial work following the launch of the strategy has been in terms of building capacity at both a national and local level for implementation. Early discussions have taken place with a range of organisations and individuals that had expressed an interest in helping implementation. A number of early deliverables where we could make good progress in the first year have also been identified, including:

Sustainable Development

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the remit relating to sustainable development (a) required and (b) undertaken by his Department's (i) executive agencies, (ii) advisory

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non-departmental bodies, (iii) executive non-departmental bodies; (iv) tribunals, (v) public corporations and (vi) other bodies. [114504]

Ms Blears: The Department's strategy on sustainable development reflects the Government's overall sustainable development strategy. The Department's strategy seeks to promote and encourage sustainable development principles throughout the Department and the national health service, including those agencies and other bodies for which the Department has responsibility.

Departmental agencies and other bodies may draw up their own sustainable development strategies. For example, the Department's NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency has recently published its new sustainable development policy. This can be found on its website at

Progress on Department of Health sustainable development activity can be tracked on the Department's web page at

Telecommunications Masts

Mr. John MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence he has assessed of cancer rates among people who live or work within a (a) five-mile radius and (b) 10-mile radius of telecommunications masts in the UK. [115939]

Ms Blears: A study of radio and television transmission masts published in 1996 by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit concluded that people living close to such masts are not at increased risk of developing leukaemia.

Radiofrequency (RF) emissions from mobile phone base stations are currently being considered under the LINK mobile telecommunications and health research programme (MTHR). Concerns about possible health risks from exposure to emissions from mobile phone transmitters are being addressed by MTHR in a recently commissioned epidemiological study. Further information can be found on the web site at

Over the last few years a number of groups have assessed the possible health effects of exposure to RF radiation. These include reports from a Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel (1999), The Health Council of the Netherlands (2000), an Expert Group set up by the French Government (2001) and the British Medical Association (2001) as well as the Stewart Report (2000). In all cases the conclusion has been that the epidemiological evidence currently available does not suggest that RF exposure causes cancer. The public health implications of mobile phone base stations were comprehensively assessed by the Stewart independent expert group on mobile phones ( in May 2000 and concluded that:

Measurements undertaken by the National Radiological Protection Board and the Radiocommunications Agency have confirmed that public exposures are very

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much lower than the international guidelines and are published on the websites at and respectively.

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