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18 Dec 2003 : Column 1131W—continued


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the projects being funded by his Department to tackle obesity. [144565]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department are leading on developing a Food and Health Action Plan, which will shape, co-ordinate and drive action to improve public health in England through better diet. Action on physical activity will be guided by an activity co-ordination team, jointly led by the Department of Health and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. These two initiatives will be of direct relevance to the prevention and management of obesity and will provide the overall strategy.

Projects funded by the Department which contribute to tackling obesity include:

Primary care trusts allocate funding from their own devolved budgets to deliver national targets and milestones and to meet local priorities, including work relating to diet, physical activity and obesity.


Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimates he has made of the number of orthopists needed in the Health Service by 2006. [144190]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 15 December 2003]: Separate information is not collected in the non-medical workforce census on the number of orthopists employed in the National Health Service. The Delivering the NHS Plan target for increasing the number of therapists and scientists by 30,000 by 2008, over 2001 levels, includes orthotists as does the NHS Plan target for increasing the number of therapists and other key professional staff by 4,450 by 2004 over 1999 levels.

There is only one course in England for prosthetists and orthopists that is commissioned by Cumbria and Lancashire Working Development Confederation. In 2002–03, there were 30 training places with 32 forecast for 2003–04.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many consultant paediatricians have left the NHS in each of the last six years; and for what reasons. [143048]

Mr. Hutton: The Department does not collect data centrally on, or reasons for, the number of leavers in the national health service.

As part of the Department's recruitment and retention strategy, we are taking forward a programme of work to address key issues of concern to the medical profession. This programme of work is part of the "Improving Working Lives" initiative, which enables all staff, including consultants to strike a better balance between work and other aspects of their life outside work.


Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of the 2002–03 budget for mental health in-reach work in prisons is dedicated specifically to women prisoners. [144069]

Dr. Ladyman: In 2002–03, £3,375,000 was made available for National Health Service mental health in-reach services in prison establishments in England, of which £425,000, or 12.5 per cent., was for services at six establishments holding only women. The comparable figures for 2003–04 are £9,400,000 and £903,000, or 9.6 per cent., at 11 establishments.

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure a consistent structure of oversight for prisoners' healthcare during the transfer of responsibility from HM Prison Service to the NHS. [144071]

Dr. Ladyman: In addition to routine performance monitoring by the Prison Service, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons and the independent monitoring boards at individual establishments oversee prisoners' healthcare. The Commission for Health Improvement's (CHI) responsibility for conducting reviews and investigations of healthcare extends to health services for prisoners commissioned or provided by National Health Service bodies. The Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection (CHAD will succeed CHI from April 2004.

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Transfer of responsibility for commissioning health services for prisoners to NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) is due to begin in selected locations from April 2004, leading to full devolution of prison health resources to PCTs by the end of March 2006. As this process develops, prisoners' healthcare will come within the ambit of the normal NHS monitoring systems. We are considering with HM Inspectorate of Prisons and CHAI how the external inspection arrangements for prison health services should develop in the light of these changes.

Public Health Laboratory Service

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the funding levels were for the Public Health Laboratory Service in each of the six years before its abolition; and if he will make a statement. [144370]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The funding levels for the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) in each of the six years in question are shown in the table.


1 999–200059,2113,92463,135
1 998–9958,3212,03060,351


PHLS audited published annual accounts.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the regional networks of microbiology laboratories were disbanded. [144371]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Public Health Laboratory Service's regional network of microbiology laboratories has been replaced by the Health Protection Agency's (HPA) local and regional services division, which has a network of eight regional laboratories. This is supported by more than 300 National Health Service microbiology pathology laboratories across the country. The HPA has regional microbiologists (a newly created post in microbiology), who, working with regional epidemiologists and local communicable disease control teams, ensure that the public health outputs of the laboratories in their regions are maintained. This is a more comprehensive coverage of the public health needs across the country than was previously possible, filling some of the surveillance gaps identified by the Chief Medical Officer in his strategy for combating infectious diseases, Getting Ahead of the Curve.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether premature babies discharged from Guys and St. Thomas' Hospital in the last three months who were given the first course of their preventive treatment for respiratory syncytial virus will continue to receive that treatment by the hospital until their course is completed. [143682]

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Mr. Hutton: Guy's and St Thomas' National Health Service Hospital Trust has confirmed that all babies who meet the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) criteria for preventative treatment for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), including those for whom a programme has already been initiated, will have their full course of injections provided by the hospital. The protocol in use is the same as that used by other neonatal units in the Region.

A second group of eight babies, who do not fulfil the criteria set out by the JCVI, were given the first dose at the hospital. The trust has reviewed the evidence and guidelines for this group in discussion with primary care trusts (PCTs) and parents, and is deciding on a case-by-case basis whether or not to continue the treatment.

The trust has agreed with PCTs that it will not commence any new RSV courses which fall outside the current criteria without prior agreement with the regional specialist on infectious disease and agreement with the PCTs on funding for the whole course.

Self-administered Treatments

Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what his policy is towards new treatments which allow patients to self-administer at home; [144549]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government's policy is to promote self-care and give patients greater control over their treatment. On 9 December, we published "Building on the Best: Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in the NHS". This document broadly sets out how we need to make the national health service more responsive to patients by offering more choice across the spectrum of health care. Redesigning services around the wishes and choices of different groups of service users will improve access to care and treatment and reduce health inequalities.

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