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4 Jun 2003 : Column 485W—continued


Brain Removal

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which categories of people have had their brains removed from their bodies by authorities in the last 10 years; which authorities have the power to undertake removal; what guidelines apply to each authority in relation to this activity; and if he will make a statement. [116704]

Mr. Lammy: Under the Human Tissue Act 1961, organs and tissue may be taken and used for medical purposes after a post-mortem examination by a national health service pathologist if the person who has died authorised this prior to death. Where the deceased has not expressed a view, relatives may authorise such taking and use of organs and tissue.

Under the Coroners Act 1988 and Coroners Rules 1984, a coroner undertaking a coroner's post mortem examination may remove and retain any organs or tissue that he/she deems relevant to the cause of death on his/her own authority alone. However, any organ or tissue removed in such cases may not be used for any other purpose unless separate authorisation is obtained.

Under the Anatomy Act 1984 and Anatomy Regulations 1988, organs and tissue, including brains and brain tissue, may be removed for anatomical examination when a person has bequeathed his or her body for this purpose.

In terms of the legal implications, the brain is no different from any other part of the human body in respect of the above.

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Following extensive consultation last year, comprehensive new guidance on the taking and use of organs and tissue following post-mortem examination was published on 25 April 2003. This has been placed in the Library. New legislation is also in preparation. This will be brought forward as soon as parliamentary time allows

Data about the categories of people from whom any organs or tissues have been removed are not collated or held centrally. However, the Report of a Census of Organs and Tissues Retained by Pathology Services in England, published by the Chief Medical Officer in 2000, may be of interest.

Hospital Car Parks

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the provision of disabled parking spaces in hospital car parks. [114498]

Mr. Hutton: NHS Estates, an executive agency of the Department of Health, provides advice and guidance to the National Health Service, principally through a series of technical manuals and design publications. These represent best practice and, through their adoption, NHS trusts and health authorities should comply with current legislation affecting disabled people.

NHS Estates guidance document, Car Parking (1996—Health Facilities Note 21) suggests an overall proportion of disabled parking spaces for healthcare premises, whilst accepting that the number and different types of spaces will be dependent on the range of healthcare services and facilities provided.

The Department also issued Doubly Disabled—Equality for Disabled People in the new NHS—Access to Services (1999). This guidance gives advice on access for disabled people including 'Transport, cars and parking'. To help underpin this process, an access audit toolkit was developed and made available to all NHS bodies in 1999.

Agenda for Change

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what average change in pay he expects for speech and language therapists in real terms over three years under Agenda for Change; and what proportion of these posts in the NHS are held by women. [114781]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 21 May 2003]: The Agenda for Change proposals include a 10 per cent. uplift to basic pay for all staff groups over the three years from April 2003 to March 2006 and a further estimated increase of 2.5 per cent. in basic pay on average. The changes in pay (over and above 10 per cent.) for specific groups, such as speech and language therapists, will depend on decisions made locally about which national job profile matches a particular post or, where there is no match with a national profile, on a local job evaluation. 97.3 per cent. of the qualified speech and language therapist workforce is female.

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Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the implementation of Agenda for Change is conditional upon the results of a ballot of NHS staff; and what account will be taken of the results of consultation with NHS staff in deciding whether Agenda for Change will be rolled out nationally in October 2004. [114782]

Mr. Hutton: Agenda for Change has been negotiated by staff and management sides working in partnership. Staff side organisations are consulting their members about Agenda for Change and the majority of these organisations have now announced their results. We expect that a decision about implementation will be made jointly by the United Kingdom health departments, unions and employer representatives once consultation is complete. If this decision is positive, then we will move to the early implementation phase. Where there is evidence from the early implementer sites that the success criteria in the proposed agreement are not being sufficiently met, the appropriate action would be discussed before national roll-out in the new NHS Staff Council. All the nationally recognised staff organisations will be represented on the proposed NHS Staff Council.

Ambulatory Oxygen Services

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on ambulatory oxygen services. [116636]

Mr. Lammy: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) on 3 June 2003.


Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is regarding screening for aneurisms; and if he will make a statement. [115249]

Ms Blears: The United Kingdom national screening committee makes recommendations to Ministers on all aspects of screening programmes. It is currently considering the resource costs and work force implications of implementing a screening programme, following the publication of a multi-centre study funded by the Medical Research Council last year. Until these recommendations are received, screening should not be started.


Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the regular use of aspirin to tackle heart disease; and if he will make a statement. [115732]

Ms Blears: The national service framework, based on the advice of an expert group of clinicians, stated that patients at high risk of heart disease or heart attack should take a low dose of aspirin every day, unless other medical considerations made this inadvisable.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is considering clopidogrel in combination with aspirin in the treatment of non ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndromes. The outcome of this work is not expected until 2004.

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Biological Attacks

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information, preparation and guidance have been provided to tertiary centres on infectious and communicable diseases in the event of a biological attack. [99351]

Mr. Hutton: Comprehensive guidance, to ensure that the National Health Service is prepared to respond to major incidents or terrorist attacks, was first issued in November 1998, and was entitled Planning for major incidents: the NHS guidance.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) (formerly the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS)) has for many years undertaken surveillance of biological agents on the Department's behalf. The approach taken has been to build on the public health need to have in place clinical and laboratory based surveillance for the most likely agents that could be used in a biological attack. This work resulted in the document published by the Department in March 2000, Deliberate release of biological and chemical agents.

In October 2001 a further package of guidance on the deliberate release of anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulism and the approach to dealing with a chemical, biological or radiological deliberate release was issued. Complementary operational guidance for clinicians, including general practitioners (GPs), was placed on the then PHLS's (now the HPA's) website. These are regularly updated.

In December 2002, the Department published Interim guidelines for smallpox response and management in the post eradication era on the departmental website. All such guidance is available on the Department's website at with links to complementary guidance on the HPA's website.

The information and guidance provided by the Department to the NHS is, of course, accessible to the whole NHS.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Government's policy in using US-sourced, virally inactivated fresh frozen plasma for transfusion patients. [115756]

Ms Blears: The Government announced on 15 August 2002 that fresh frozen plasma (FFP) will be obtained from the United States for new-born babies and children born after 1 January 1996 as an added precaution against the theoretical risk of vCJD transmission. This announcement is in line with advice from the United Kingdom expert advisory committee on Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissues for Transplantation, and is designed to protect the most vulnerable group who will not have been exposed to BSE through the food chain.

The US FFP will be obtained after screening out high risk donors and then further testing every unit for the presence of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. As an added precaution, the US FFP will also be subject to treatment with methylene blue to further reduce the risk of transmission of blood borne viruses.

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The National Blood Service is currently involved in negotiating for supplies of FFP for this group of patients and plans to have it available later this year. A commercially produced FFP product, sourced from the US, is also available for the national health service to purchase.

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