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Peto Institute

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many UK nationals have benefited from reduced rates when attending the Peto Institute since the payment by the UK Government to the Institute in 1991. [116335]

Jacqui Smith: The Department of Health does not collect information regarding the Peto Institute. However, the following information has been obtained from the British embassy in Hungary. According to Article 4 of the bilateral agreement, United Kingdom residents have received a reduction in conductive education fees on the standard fees for non-Hungarians since 14 September 1998. In addition, some British students receive conductive training, which will enable them to provide conductive education in the UK.

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For the 2000–01 academic year, 12 UK residents received conductive training and 18 received conductive education. An extra 15 students received conductive education during the 2001 summer camp. For the 2001–02 academic year, 18 UK residents received conductive education and 18 received conductive training. In addition, reduced rates have been offered to UK residents staying at either the Peto Institute's hostel or hotel.

Prescription Charges

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the increases in prescription charges since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [119268]

Mr. Lammy: The increases in the prescription charges since 1997 are shown in the table.


Prescription Charge Cash Increase

Prime Care

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many contracts and to what value have been awarded to Prime Care; how many complaints have been received about Prime Care in (a) 2002 and (b) 2003; and what evaluation he has carried out of the overnight speed of response of (i) Prime Care and (ii) NHS Direct. [114778]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 20 May 2003]: Contracts with Prime Care are let locally by general practitioners, GP co-operatives and others. Information is not held centrally on their number value, or any related complaints.

The quality of out-of-hours primary medical care services is now being assured through the introduction of new arrangements for accrediting providers. Under this system, only organised out-of-hours providers which meet and maintain specified quality standards will be accredited by primary care trusts (PCTs) to continue providing services. The quality standards, which include responsiveness, are those recommended by The Carson Review of out-of-hours services, which reported in 2000. Both NHS Direct and Prime Care are expected to meet these standards and their performance is for PCTs to monitor as part of the new accreditation system.

Public Appointments

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to encourage participation of disabled people in public appointments in the national health service. [118544]

Mr. Lammy: The Government are making every effort to encourage more disabled people to serve on national health service boards. While the overall

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proportion on the boards of NHS trusts, primary care trusts (PCTs) and health authorities (HAs) is lower than we would wish, considerable progress has been made in recent years, with the number on boards having risen from 29 in May 1997 to 119 today.

The NHS Appointments Commission has been set the following goals and objectives in relation to the appointment of disabled people to NHS boards, to be achieved by December 2005.



This issue is currently being addressed on an inter-departmental basis.


Mr. Keith Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to change the working hours of radiographers in NHS trust hospitals under the Agenda for Change programme. [118902]

Mr. Hutton: The Agenda for Change package, agreed for testing in early implementer sites, would mean that radiographers, who currently work 35 hours, would gradually increase to the standard 37½ working work. From the date of implementation for four years they would continue to work 35 hours per week, followed by 36 hours for the next two years and 37 hours for one year after this, before finally moving to the new standard 37½ hours in year eight.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the additional risks of (a) heart attacks, (b) strokes and (c) peripheral gangrene are for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis; [118447]

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Jacqui Smith: All patients with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk of developing atheroma, a pathological process that may lead to an increased incidence of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and peripheral blood vessel disease. The exact mechanism of atheroma formation in rheumatoid arthritis is unclear, but may be associated with the vasculitis observed in rheumatoid arthritis. Peripheral gangrene may result from atheroma in peripheral blood vessels, and sometimes from vasculitis itself. On average, life expectancy is reduced in rheumatoid arthritis by about five years and atheroma is a key contributing cause.

In March 2002, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommended the use of Etanercept and Infliximab for rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis affects all ages and ethnic groups and up to 1 per cent. of the population may be affected by it. We expect that about 15,000 people will benefit from anti-TNF therapy.

Streptococcal Infections

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of best practice in the treatment of Group B Streptococcal infections in (a) the USA and (b) the EU; and if he will make a statement. [116918]

Jacqui Smith: The Department of Health has not done any assessment of best practice in the treatment of this disease in the United States of America or the European Union.

This is a matter of clinical practice, which we know has been receiving much research attention. We expect that obstetric units will have in place a standard form of practice based on the various guidance which currently exists while awaiting consideration of the guidelines, currently being produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which we expect will be published in December 2003. These guidelines will take account of all published work in this area.

Transplant Organs

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many organs on the Organ Register were available for (a) liver transplants and (b) heart and lung transplants in each of the last five years. [116928]

Mr. Lammy: Information on the number of livers and cardiothoracic (heart/lung) organs donated for transplant in the United Kingdom between 1998 and 2002 are shown in the table.