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26 Jan 2004 : Column 192W—continued

Practice Staff (Complaints)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations his Department has received about the treatment of practice staff by general practitioners; what the complaints procedure is in the event of staff concerns; and if he will make a statement. [144940]

Mr. Hutton: General practitioners are independent contractors to the national health service. They are responsible for employing their own staff, and for agreeing their terms and conditions of employment. Practice staff, like all other employees, have statutory employment rights which are enforceable by the employment tribunal.

Public Health

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the public health content of strategic health authority local development plans; and if he will make a statement. [144784]

Mr. Hutton: Strategic health authorities were required to produce local delivery plans to deliver the national priorities set out in "Improvement, Expansion and Reform: The next three years: Priorities and Planning Framework (PPF) 2003–2006." A copy is available in the Library.

The plans cover a whole range of areas—improvements to cancer services; tackling coronary heart disease; reducing health inequalities and improving access to services—which will improve the public's health.

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Public Health Laboratory Service

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the funding for the Public Health Laboratory Service was in each year from its establishment until 1996–97. [147658]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The funding for the Public Health Laboratory Service is described in its annual report and accounts, copies of which are available in the Library.

Stroke (Gloucestershire)

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what facilities there are in the NHS in Gloucestershire to identify those most at risk from strokes; and if he will make a statement. [149468]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In line with our policy of Shifting the Balance of Power, it is now for primary care trusts, in partnership with health authorities and other local stakeholders, to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services, based on the specialised knowledge they have of the local community.

I am informed by Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Strategic Health Authority that the National Health Service in Gloucestershire is involved in a wide range of prevention programmes, including exercise and diet, linked to health promotion. There is regular screening in primary and secondary care for example for high blood pressure, smoking and other familial factors with prescribing where appropriate. The NHS in Gloucestershire also participates in audits to monitor and improve practice in general practitioner surgeries and hospitals.

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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what NHS services are offered to stroke victims in their homes; and if he will make a statement. [149469]

Dr. Ladyman: People who have experienced a stroke for the first time should be admitted to hospital for immediate assessment and to plan for their rehabilitation. Many stroke units are now developing early discharge schemes to help some people (usually those with satisfactory domestic caring arrangements) to return home at an early opportunity to continue rehabilitation at home for a few more weeks. Most disabled stroke patients who are discharged from hospital at any stage of their care will benefit from a period of post-discharge rehabilitation. This has been shown to stabilise the patient's function and make a small additional improvement in independence. During the period following discharge, there will also commonly be contact with mainstream health and social care community services. These will include: the patient's general practitioner; community nurses; and the home care service. These contacts often continue long-term for patients with persisting disability. The national service framework for older people has stipulated that stroke patients should have a review, performed by a stroke co-ordinator six months after discharge, to reassess their care needs.

Waiting Times

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cancer patients waited longer than two months between urgent general practitioner referral and first treatment in each of the last eight years. [149918]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 22 January 2004]: The data requested are not available centrally.

The NHS Cancer Plan sets out our strategy to reduce waiting times for cancer patients. A maximum two month wait from urgent referral to treatment was introduced for breast cancer in December 2002. Data on performance of this target has been reported from the first quarter of 2003–04 and is shown in the table.

Qtr 1(April-June 2003)Qtr 2(July-September 2003)
Number of patients treated for breast cancer within two months of urgent referral by their GP3,8444,047
Percentage of breast cancer patients treated within two months of urgent referral by their GP96.897.8
Number of patients treated for breast cancer during the quarter but not within two months of urgent referral by their GP12791

By 2005, all cancer patients will receive their first treatment within two months of urgent referral for suspected cancer by their general practitioner, except for a good clinical reason or through patient choice. Targets of one month from urgent referral for suspected cancer to the start of treatment were introduced in 2001 for testicular cancer, acute leukaemia and children's' cancers. Data on achievement of NHS Cancer Plan waiting times targets are published on the Department's website or strategic health authorities and trusts, at

Working Time Directive

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many new medical posts NHS hospital trusts have bid for to help respond to the EU Working Time Directive. [149341]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not available centrally.

Strategic health authorities are currently working with their respective trusts locally on plans to achieve compliance for doctors in training from August 2004.

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many (a) women and (b) men are in prison having been convicted of causing the deaths of their own children; [145030]

Paul Goggins: Available information is in the form of all suspects convicted of homicide by type of homicide and sentence. The latest 10 years data were published in "Criminal Statistics England and Wales 2001–2002: Supplementary Volume", Table 1.10.

Data for suspects causing the deaths of their own children are not published separately.

Animal Experiments

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the minister responsible for animal experimentation takes to secure advice on these matters from sources independent of officials. [148849]

Caroline Flint: Under sections 9(1) and 18(2) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, members of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate provide the Secretary of State with expert technical advice about whether and on what terms applications for licences and certificates should be granted, and on their review, amendment or variation. The Inspectorate is the only source of such advice considered necessary in dealing with most applications for project licences, personal licences and certificates of designation. The Inspectorate has no powers to grant, refuse, revoke or vary licences or certificates. That responsibility lies with the Secretary of State.

Where issues arising from project licence applications prompt the Secretary of State to seek advice from other experts, the 1986 Act makes provision, under section 9(1), for the appointment of independent assessors. This option is seldom used, but may be exercised in a variety of circumstances. For example, advice may be sought when the issues raised require specific, expert knowledge not available within the Inspectorate. It may also be appropriate when there is debate within the scientific or welfare communities, or between the Inspectorate and an applicant, as to the scientific validity of the hypothesis or methodology; the scope for further refinement of the programme of work; the benefits likely to arise from a programme of work; or the welfare costs to the animals.

Section 12 of the Act defines the actions to be taken by the Secretary of State when it is proposed to refuse an application for authorities under the Act, or to vary or revoke existing authorities other than with the consent of the holder of the licence or certificate. In such circumstances, the Act allows the appointment of a person of suitable legal qualification to consider any representations against such proposals and to report the outcome to the Secretary of State..

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Sections 19 and 20 of the 1986 Act establish the Animal Procedures Committee, an independent body created to advise the Secretary of State on matters concerned with the Act and the Secretary of State's powers under it. The Committee may consider and advise on matters of its own choosing, as well as those that are referred to it by the Secretary of State. In its considerations, the Committee must have regard both to the legitimate requirements of science and industry and to the protection of animals against avoidable suffering and unnecessary use in scientific procedures. The Committee regularly publishes general advice to Ministers, most recently in its reports on the use of non-human primates and on the cost benefit assessment, and also offers additional advice on the limited range of project licence applications referred to it.

The Secretary of State is not bound by the advice received from the Inspectorate, assessors, persons appointed to consider representations, or the Animal Procedures Committee, in respect of licence applications. Such advice only informs the Secretary of State's decision.

More generally, as the Home Office Minister responsible for the implementation of the 1986 Act, I regularly meet representatives of the scientific community and animal welfare and animal protection groups, as well as Ministerial colleagues in other Government Departments and Members of Parliament, to discuss policy relating to the use of animals in scientific procedures. I also receive correspondence and a variety of reports and written representations from these and other sources on the use of animals in scientific procedures.

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