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Work Permits

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people with Tier One work permits renewed their visa in each year from 1997 to 2002. [116065]

Beverley Hughes: The number of Tier One work permit extensions issued since 2000 (the earliest date for which data is held) is as follows:


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the annual budget is of Work Permits UK; how many staff it employs; how much it will spend this year on marketing its services within the UK; and how many work permits it is empowered to issue each year. [116885]

Beverley Hughes: The budget allocation for Work Permits (UK) for the financial year 2003/2004 depends on the outcome of continuing discussions between the Home Office and the Treasury. However, from 1 April 2003, employers are charged £95 for the consideration of each work permit application and this will enable WP (UK) to recover a large part of the cost of running the organisation, plus relevant Home Office overheads. Apart from the new Sectors Based Scheme, which is subject to a quota of 20,000 permits, the work permit service is demand-led and responds to the needs of UK employers to recruit overseas workers. Staffing levels within WP (UK) are set according to this demand. WP (UK) currently employs 480 staff.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the number of work permits for the leisure and hospitality industry. [118351]

Beverley Hughes: Following my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget Statement, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced a number of ways in which it intends to maximise benefits to the UK economy of managed migration routes to fill skills shortages and improve productivity. This includes the new sector-based work permit scheme which began on 30 May 2003 and will operate in the hospitality and

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food manufacturing sectors. Each sector will have a quota of 10,000 permits. Following consultation, these sectors were identified as having labour needs that could not be met by the United Kingdom or the European Economic Area workforce.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many work permits were issued for non-EU residents for the leisure and hospitality industry in each year since 1999. [118352]

Beverley Hughes: The following figures are all approved work permit applications in the hospitality sector for the years in question:

YearHospitality sector
19991,027
20002,046
20015,379
200212,136
2003 (January-May)6,029

Separate figures are not available for the leisure sector.

HEALTH

Additives

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether the Government plans to recommend a maximum number of additives in a product; [116892]

Ms Blears: I refer the hon. Member to the responses I gave him on 3 June 2003, Official Report, column 365W.

Alcohol Abuse

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent assessment he has made of the

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use and abuse of alcohol in other EU countries with special reference to (a) binge drinking and (b) young people; [117823]

Ms Blears: The Department of Health has been working closely with my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister's strategy unit on a project to develop the national alcohol harm reduction strategy. As part of this project, the strategy unit is due to publish an interim analysis in the summer. The analysis will consider issues around treatment for those with an alcohol problem and the costs to health services of alcohol-related harm. It will also make reference both to binge drinking and young people and will draw, where relevant, on international and European comparisons. The final report, which will set out the cross-governmental alcohol harm reduction strategy is planned for publication in the autumn.

Anaesthetic Machines

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether there are anaesthetic machines capable of delivering hypoxic gas mixtures used in the NHS that operate without an (a) oxygen analyser and (b) anti-hypoxic guard. [116947]

Mr. Lammy: The Medical Devices Agency (MDA) published SN2001(15) in May 2001 on "Anaesthetic Machines: Prevention of Hypoxic Gas Mixtures". This advised that all anaesthetic machines capable of delivering hypoxic gas mixtures must have a hypoxic guard fitted or use oxygen analyser with audible alarms to warn of the delivery of hypoxic gas mixtures.

As a follow up to this safety notice, in October 2001, Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Dr. David Jefferys, Chief Executive of MDA, wrote joint letters to chief executives of trusts and regional directors of public health requesting that they report back on how the actions recommended in the safety notice had been implemented. By 31 October 2002, all 5,843 anaesthetic machines in national health service hospitals in England complied with the safety notice by having either an anti-hypoxic guard or an oxygen analyser with alarms.

We do not centrally hold records of the number of anaesthetic machines which have both the guard and the analyser as this information was not required in either the safety notice or CMO/MDA joint letter.

Asthma

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department is undertaking into the links between allergies and asthma. [116446]

Ms Blears: The main Government agency for research into the cause and treatments of disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC) which receives its funding via the Department of Trade and Industry. Asthma is a priority area for the MRC. It supports a wide range of research projects looking at asthma ranging from basic

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research to clinical studies. The MRC spent an estimated £3 million in 2001–02 on research in this area, including research of direct relevance to allergies and asthma.

The Department of Health is funding research on air pollution and asthma under its Policy Research Programme (PRP). Current work is focused in two areas:


The Department is also funding a £100,000 project at the David Hide Asthma & Allergy Research Centre on the effect of a low allergen indoor environment on exacerbations of asthma.

Breast Cancer Screening

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many women were tested for HER2 last year. [114726]

Ms Blears: The Department of Health does not collect figures on the level of HER2 testing.

Decisions on whether to carry out HER2 testing will be made by clinicians, based on factors such as the extent of the disease, previous treatment experience and the patient's fitness and wishes.

Care Records

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the specification for the integrated care records system will be completed. [118101]

Mr. Hutton: The specification for the integrated care records service (ICRS) was completed in early May 2003, and issued on 16 May 2003 to the successful candidates who had progressed from the pre-qualification stage of the procurement process. 22 have been long-listed as potential local service providers and seven as potential national application service providers.

The specification will enable bidders to propose a solution to the stated requirements.

For the purpose of the procurement, the country has been split into five geographic areas ('clusters').

A second specification will be issued at a later stage of the procurement process to provide details relevant to each cluster.

Chest Pain Clinics

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase the number of rapid access chest pain clinics. [116896]

Ms Blears: The Government has no plans to increase the number of rapid access chest pain clinics. These clinics are now serving all parts of the country. National health service service providers in some parts of the country may decide to open additional clinics, should this be required to ensure that all patients are seen within two weeks of referral by their general practitioner.

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8/Diagnostic and Treatment Centres

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the terms and conditions under which diagnostic and treatment centres (DTCs) will provide non-urgent surgery to the NHS; how many non-NHS units and companies have been asked to tender; what the (a) nationality and (b) company HQ address is of the non-NHS companies on the list; what terms and conditions will be applicable to non-NHS staff working in DTCs; and what legal protection will be offered to patients receiving treatment outside the NHS from private DTCs. [115174]

Mr. Hutton: There will be national health service run and independent sector-run diagnosis and treatment centres (DTCs) providing non-urgent surgery to NHS patients. NHS-run DTCs will be part of NHS trusts and will be subject to NHS governance and standards; independent sector DTCs will be expected to meet independent sector standards and will be regulated and inspected by the National Care Standards Commission. The intention is that the contracts for independent sector DTCs will be based on a standard project agreement containing a common core set of terms and conditions reflecting this. 15 companies have been short-listed and their details can be found at: http://www.doh.gov.uk/growingcapacity/news.htm This will be updated with further information on a regular basis.

To comply with employment and health and safety legislation, guidance on pre and post-employment checks and all clinical staff will need to be registered with the appropriate regulatory body and properly trained and competent to carry out the roles required of them.

Patients treated at NHS expense in DTCs will remain NHS patients and their rights as NHS patients will not be affected. They will, for example, have a right to use the NHS complaints procedure, and providers will be expected to co-operate with the investigation of complaints under that procedure.


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