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Top-up Fees

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether foundation hospitals will be permitted to pay the (a) tuition and (b) top-up fees of recruits. [144394]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 17 December 2003]: National health service foundation trusts, like all NHS trusts, would in principle have the power to pay both the tuition and top-up fees of recruits. It would be up to each NHS foundation trust as to whether and in what

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circumstances to do so. Section 18(1) of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act gives NHS foundation trusts the power to do anything which appears to it to be necessary or desirable for the purposes of or in connection with its functions.

Transplant Services

Mr. Kevin Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures his Department has put in place to counter the shortages of (a) transplant consultants and (b) critical care nurses in the NHS outlined in the Transplant Framework for England, Saving Lives, Valuing Donors. [144891]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The NHS Plan set challenging workforce objectives to increase staff numbers significantly and redesign jobs with more staff working differently. The Department has arranged for 11 additional surgical training places to be funded specifically to train transplant surgeons.

Between September 1999 and March 2002, a net increase of 28,740 nurses working in the national health service has meant the NHS Plan target for nurses, 20,000 by 2004, has been achieved early. The NHS has a plan to recruit an additional 35,000 nurses by 2008—a proportion of whom will be working in critical care.

Mr. Kevin Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what system will be put in place to monitor and evaluate the measurements of progress outlined in the Transplant Framework for England, Saving Lives, Valuing Donors; and what action he will take in the event of primary care trusts failing to make progress;. [144892]

Ms Rosie Winterton: UK Transplant already closely monitors most aspects of organ donation and transplantation. The information UK Transplant collects and analyses on organ donation and transplant activity is available on its web-site at In developing their transplant services, it will be for primary care trusts and specialist commissioning teams to take account of local needs and priorities to allocate resources and benchmark their performance against published activity data. As organ transplantation is of proven clinical

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and cost effectiveness, maximising donation and transplantation rates will be important for both patients and the National Health Service.

We envisage that voluntary organisations will continue to play an important part in research, raising awareness about organ donation, particularly by encouraging people to join the organ donor register and supporting the families of donors and transplant recipients.

The Department has provided around £7 million via UK Transplant since 2001 to boost organ donation through the employment of 35 donor liaison nurses working with staff in critical units to help identify potential donors and how to approach and support relatives; 23 living donor co-ordinators working with families considering live donation and funding 10 non-heartbeating programmes to increase the number of organs from non-heartbeating donors.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce an opt-out scheme for organ donation. [145427]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Government policy on organ donation is one of informed consent, not presumed consent (opt out). The Government reviewed the law on the removal, retention and use of human tissues and organs and tissues during 2003 and the resulting Human Tissue Bill, which was laid before Parliament on 2 December 2003, does not propose to change this policy.

Variant CJD

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the risk of possible infection with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease from large pools of plasma; and what the likely effects are of dilution of infected blood products in large pools. [145450]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department has commissioned a risk assessment to consider these questions and findings are not yet available.

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department takes to trace recipients of blood donated by donors identified as having (a) variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and (b) other blood-borne diseases. [145453]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: The Transfusion Medicine Epidemiology Review is a collaborative project between the United Kingdom National CJD Surveillance Unit (NCJDSU) and United Kingdom Blood Services (UKBS). The main purpose is to investigate whether there is any evidence that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease may have been transmitted via the blood supply.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease cases are notified to the UKBS by NCJDSU; a search establishes whether any have acted as donors. Donation records are checked and all components traced through hospital records. Details of all identified recipients are forwarded to NCJDSU for subsequent checking.

In the reverse procedure, patients with variant CJD reported to have received blood transfusions are identified by NCJDSU and notified to UKBS. Details of transfusions are traced through hospital records and relevant blood donors identified. The identity of donors is notified to NCJDSU for subsequent checking.

The safety of blood used in the National Health Service is of paramount importance. Every reasonable step has been taken to minimise any risks during blood transfusion. The current high levels of safety are achieved by screening out potential high risk donors and then further testing of every unit of donated blood for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Human T Cell Leukaemia Virus, and Syphilis before it is released to NHS hospitals.

Waiting Times (Cambridgeshire)

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the average waiting time for a first consultant appointment in Cambridgeshire in each year since 1999. [146450]

Dr. Ladyman: Information relating to national health service trust waiting times, including trusts in Cambridge, for first consultation appointments can be obtained from the Department's at

The Trusts in Cambridgeshire are: