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26 Jan 2004 : Column 174W—continued


Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to reduce the costs of NHS cataract services to a level equivalent to that being achieved by Netcare. [149028]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 19 January 2004]: We are developing a nationally set tariff for most national health services activity, including cataract activity, based on NHS average prices. All NHS trusts will be expected to achieve tariff by 2008.

Through the treatment centre programme and the introduction of a single agreed care pathway for cataract we are aiming to maximise productivity, improve clinical outcomes and reduce variation in cost and quality.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many patients are waiting for cataract operations; [149473]

Mr. Hutton: Central waiting list returns are collected by specialty, for example, ophthalmology. Information on the number of patients waiting for cataract operations specifically is therefore not available, as cataract operations are a procedure within ophthalmology.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cataract operations were carried out in each of the last five years. [149474]

Mr. Hutton: Published information on the number of hospital admissions for cataract operations is available up to 2002–03. The number of operations in each of the last five years for which information is available is shown in the table.

Number of finished episodes

This information is available on the Department's web-site under hospital episode statistics.

Children's Diets

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will set out for each of the last 10 years for (a) England, (b) each NHS region and (c) each strategic health authority the number and proportion of (i) boys, (ii) girls, and (iii) children aged (A) 4–5, (B) 6–7, (C) 8–9, (D) 10–11, (E) 12–13, (F) 14–15 and (G) 16–17 who have nothing to eat before school (1) once a week, (2) twice a week, (3) three days a week, (4) four days a week, (5) every school day and (6) at weekends. [146352]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Information is not collected in the form requested. However, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which carried out a survey in 1997 of the food consumption of young people aged four to 18 years, found that the youngest group of children, aged

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four to six years, were significantly more likely than the oldest group, aged 15 to 18 years, to have eaten breakfast cereals (not whole-grain or high fibre types). Boys were more likely than girls to eat non-whole-grain or high fibre cereals—74 per cent, to 64 per cent.

Civil Service (Disabled People)

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will set out the number of employees in his Department who have a disability, broken down by disability type. [148991]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is shown in the following table:

Disability broken down by disability typeTotal number of employees
Visual impairment20
Hearing impairment30
Speech impairment3
Walking impairment13
Physical co-ordination impairment26
Reduced physical capacity26
Severe disfigurement1
Learning difficulties3
Mental illness21
Progressive conditions20
Neurological conditions12

(48) This figure refers either to an unspecified disability or a disability that is outside of the categories for which data is collected.

Staff in the Department provide information on disability on a voluntary basis so the figures in the table may not reflect the total number of staff who have a disability.


Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of those undertaking colonoscopy had been fully trained to do so in the latest year for which figures are available. [150235]

Mr. Hutton: All professional staff who undertake colonoscopy procedures have received the appropriate training to do so. A national initiative to improve standards of training for all endoscopic procedures is under way. £9 million has been made available over the next three years.

Information about the number of staff who undertake colonoscopy is not held centrally.

Departmental Staff

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff in his Department work in (a) the West Midlands and (b) North Staffordshire. [146906]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has 56 staff who work in the West Midlands, including those who work in North Staffordshire. The number of staff working in North Staffordshire is not recorded separately.

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Departmental Website

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria his Department uses when deciding whether a leaflet which it publishes is to be made available only on its website. [149557]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Leaflets, being short publications primarily intended for a public audience, are printed. However, it is our policy to make the content of these and other publications available on the Department of Health's web-site and other departmental-commissioned web-sites, in line with the Government's e-delivery objectives.

There are occasions when other types of publications are made available only electronically. In this case, consideration of audience access to the internet is important and documents may be published exclusively on the web when the intended audience is a specialist one with ready access to the internet.

Digital Hearing Aids

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 5 January to questions, reference 145050 and 145051, if he will list those audiology departments in England that do not fit digital hearing aids routinely. [147758]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 13 January 2004]: The Department of Health does not hold centrally a list of audiology departments in England. However, details of those audiology departments that are or will be involved in the modernising hearing aid services project are available at Details have been placed in the Library.

Electronic Recruitment

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the Department will retain the intellectual property rights for the services developed by third parties for the NHS electronic recruitment project. [144825]

Mr. Hutton: The electronic recruitment service for the national health service will be provided by Methods Consulting Ltd. under contract to the Department of Health for five years from 11 August 2003. Methods Consulting owns the intellectual property.

Eye Infections

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether contact lens wearers are at risk, when washing their face with tap water, of developing a serious eye infection caused by the water borne amoeba acanthamoeba keratitis; and what is being done to reduce the incidence of acanthamoeba keratitis in tap water. [147939]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There is always a risk of contracting acanthamoeba keratitis when contact lenses are exposed to water as acanthamoeba can be found in chlorinated swimming pools, baths, showers and bottled water as well as in domestic tap water; with approximately one in 30,000 contact lens wearers

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contracting the disease. It is believed that any increased risk for contact lens wearers by washing their face with tap water is minimal.

Contact lens solutions have been developed in recent years to take account of this. All contact lens wearers are advised to only use recognised cleaning solutions and follow practitioners' directions when cleaning their lenses.

Surface water is treated in a manner to minimise the risk of parasites entering the distribution system and the main risk to water lies with 'natural' contamination of water in domestic storage.

Foundation Hospitals

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 12 January 2004, Official Report, columns 602–3W, on foundation hospitals, whether guidance and best practice will be automatically sent to foundation hospital trusts without the need for a specific request. [149505]

Mr. Hutton: National health service foundation trusts will, like NHS trusts, receive the NHS Chief Executive's bulletin. This includes information on all Departmental guidance issued, which can be accessed through the Department's website.

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