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16 Dec 2003 : Column 883Wcontinued
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Hutton), will reply to the letter of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West of 3 September 2003; and what the reasons are for the delay in replying. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: Information available in the Library shows that, in quarter two of 200304, there were 47 patients in the Selby and York Primary Care Trust (PCT) area whose transfer of care had been delayed.
Joint working has been put in place at every level in the Selby and York PCT area to address the issue of delayed transfers of care. A number of joint schemes have been put in place to prevent inappropriate admission, support early discharge and to prevent unacceptable delays.
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Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money has been spent on healthcare professional education with regard to diabetes over the past three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what provisions are being put in place to improve the overall competency of diabetes education of primary care and generalist staff; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hutton: The long-term conditions care group workforce team (LTCCGWT) was established two years ago. Part of its remit is to identify the workforce requirements for diabetes services. To help support this activity, the LTCCGWT in the summer of 2002, commissioned Skills for Health to develop competence frameworks for diabetes. The frameworks are intended to describe the quality of service a person with diabetes needs, whether that service is provided by a diabetes specialist nurse, a practice nurse, a general practitioner, a dietician, or any of the other professionals who provide diabetes care. They cover the key activities of:
agreeing, implementing and supporting care plans
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy that no doctor or nurse will be employed in the NHS without first being screened for (a) hepatitis B, (b) hepatitis C, (c) tuberculosis and (d) HIV/AIDS; and if he will ensure that checks are made on existing medical and nursing staff in the NHS. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 15 December 2003]: Earlier this year, the Department published draft guidance to the national health service for consultation on health clearance for serious communicable diseases for new healthcare workers. This guidance proposes strengthening existing checks for tuberculosis and hepatitis B and introducing new checks for HIV and hepatitis C for new healthcare workers who will perform exposure prone procedureswhere injury to the healthcare worker could expose a patient to the risk of infection from the healthcare worker's blood. Such procedures occur mainly in surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, dentistry and midwifery.
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"Health Clearance for Serious Communicable Diseases: New Health Care WorkersDraft guidance for consultation" is available on the Department's website at http://www.doh.gov.uk/healthclear/guidance.htm
Healthcare workers have a professional responsibility (as set out in guidance from their regulatory bodies and the Department) to promptly seek and follow confidential advice on whether they should be tested if they have any reason to believe they may have been exposed to infection with a serious communicable disease.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimates (a) the Department and (b) the National Care Standards Commission has made of the number of domiciliary care providers operating in England that would be required to register with the Commission. 
Dr. Ladyman: Before the introduction of regulation for domiciliary care agencies, the Department estimated that over 3,600 agencies operating in England would be required to register with the National Care Standards Commission. In fact, 4,322 registration applications have been received.
Miss Melanie Johnson: Infertility research involving the use of human eggs requires a licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) if those eggs are mature and are placed in storage at the research centre and/or are to be fertilised with human sperm to create a zygote or embryo. Women donating eggs to such projects can be paid a maximum of £15.00 per donation plus expenses.
The sale of human material that is not regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, including immature eggs, will be made a criminal offence by the Human Tissue Bill, which was introduced on 3 December 2003.
All research projects involving the use of human gametes, including those that do not require a licence from the HFEA, must have the approval of the research centre's local research ethics committee before the project can go ahead.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the currently available influenza vaccination in offering protection against Fujian flu. 
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review current flu policy and effectiveness of the vaccine. At its meeting on 10 November 2003, the JCVI agreed that the current vaccine is expected to offer some cross protection against the Fujian-like strain and should give good protection against the virus strains in the vaccine.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received from (a) foundation trust applicants and (b) other hospital staff concerning the impact of the new financial flows system on their stability. 
Mr. Hutton: The Department published a Payments By Results consultation on 7 August 2003. The consultation closed on 31 October 2003. Responses to the consultation, including those from foundation trust applicants and other hospital staff, are currently being analysed and a response will be made available when this analysis is completed.
Mrs. Roe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the time scale is for (a) developing policy options involving stakeholders and (b) consulting the public before the moratorium on the use of genetic information by insurance companies comes to an end in 2006. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The Government have made clear its position on the use of genetic test results for underwriting life and health insurance in the October 2001 Government response to the report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Genetics and Insurance.
The Genetics and Insurance Committee (GAIC) is responsible for the evaluation of specific genetic tests and their relevance to particular types of insurance. GAIC also provides independent scrutiny of compliance with the terms of the moratorium on the use of genetic test results by insurance companies, which runs until November 2006. If there is evidence of non-compliance with the moratorium by the insurance industry, then the Government is prepared to enforce it through legislation, if necessary.
The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) has been asked to work closely with GAIC to provide Government with further advice in developing a longer-term policy on the use of genetic information by insurance companies. GAIC and HGC will also monitor the effectiveness of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) Code of practice on Genetics which is mandatory for all ABI members.
HGC and GAIC held a well-received joint public meeting in September 2003. A number of interested groups, members of the public, attended this meeting, including representatives from organisations concerned with genetic disorders, as well as from insurance and re-insurance companies, and non-Governmental organisations with an interest in this area. HGC and GAIC are planning a further such meeting in 2004.
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