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18 Nov 2004 : Column 1985W—continued

Offender Rehabilitation

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the siting of rehabilitation facilities for offenders with learning difficulties; and what discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the location of such facilities. [199097]

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Dr. Ladyman: Local primary care trusts are responsible for commissioning health services for their local communities including those for adults with learning disabilities. This involves securing the provision of services but also the broader tasks of improving the health of the local community and integrating health and social care.

This is a matter solely for the Secretary of State for Health.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the Question tabled by the hon. Member for Bath on 22 July, ref 187176; and if he will make a statement. [197309]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I replied to the hon. Member today.

Patient Choice

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on requiring primary care trusts to offer patients the choice of an independent sector provider at the point of referral. [191720]

Mr. Hutton: The Government are committed to the expansion of the national health service to offer patients greater choice. Independent sector providers are supplementing this expansion and helping to deliver the increased capacity and choice to NHS patients.

By December 2005, primary care trusts will commission four to five service providers to offer their patients choice at the point of referral. The range of providers commissioned could include NHS trusts, foundations trusts, NHS and independent sector treatment centres, independent sector hospitals and general practitioners with a special interest or other extended primary care treatment services.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the guidance given to primary care trusts on the implementation of his Department's policy to offer a choice of four or five providers to patients at the point of referral. [191721]

Mr. Hutton: The "Choose and Book—Patients Choice of Hospital and Booked Appointment" policy guidance was published on 23 August 2004. The guidance can be found on the Department's website at: Copies have been placed in the Library.

Patient Numbers

Mr. Kevin Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of people who are suffering from (a) Alzheimer's disease, (b) Parkinson's disease, (c) Huntingdon's disease, (d) multiple sclerosis and (e) motor neurone disease. [198226]

Dr. Ladyman: Although the Department does not routinely collect information on the number of people diagnosed with specific conditions, estimates for the United Kingdom are given in the table.
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Alzheimer's disease400,000
Parkinson's disease120,000
Huntingdon's disease4,800
Multiple Sclerosis85,000
Motor Neurone disease5,000

The Department provides hospital episode statistics data, which relates to diagnostic information for in-patients in national health service hospitals. The data refers to the number of finished admission episodes and are shown in the table.
Finished admission episodes for selected diagnoses NHS hospitals 2002–03

DiagnosisFinished admission episodes
Alzheimer's Disease6,816
Parkinson's Disease7,074
Huntingdon's Disease386
Multiple Sclerosis14,594
Motor Neurone Disease2,240

A finished admission episode is the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. During their course of treatment over a period of time, patients may have a number of episodes of care, which are counted each time they have a stay in hospital.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the income to be received by his Department from pre-payment certificates for prescription charges in real terms in (a) 2005–06, (b) 2006–07, (c) 2007–08, (d) 2008–09 and (e) 2009–10. [198233]

Ms Rosie Winterton: It has not been possible to respond the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Press Officers

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department spent in (a) 1996–97 and (b) the last year for which figures are available on press officers, broken down by grade. [184540]

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many press officers are employed in his Department; and how many were employed in each year since 1996–97. [195357]

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many press officers the Department has employed in each of the past five years. [196049]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answers 16 July 2004, 1 November 2004 and 4 November 2004]: The Department does not use the term "press officer" in the data recorded for management purposes about staff in its media centre. These data are instead recorded by civil service pay grade, and not by any functional attribute. In the absence of such a definition, there is no reliable record of the number of staff within the media centre,
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which comprises staff at a variety of grades performing a range of tasks, including administrative and managerial ones, to whom the term "press officer" could have been applicable. As a result of this uncertainty, over the course of several years, answers to Parliamentary Questions about press officer numbers have been based on "ad hoc" definitions and methodologies, giving rise to further variations in handling other contributory factors, such as:

Robust data on the number of press officers employed by the Department during the financial years 1996–99 were provided in Appendix II of the report "The Government Information and Communications Service" (HC 770) published by the Select Committee on Public Administration (29 July 1998). Using the same methodology, information on media centre costs and numbers of press officers for the period 1997–98 to 2003–04 is shown in the following tables.
Cost of media centre staff, 1997–98 to 2003–04

Cost (£ million)

Number of press officers, 1997–98 to 2003–04

Number of staff

I regret that attempts to be helpful in providing substantive responses to Members' Questions have led to an unsatisfactory level of consistency with the data reported. Mechanisms are now in place to record this data on a consistent basis. We will, as a matter of routine, be carrying out an audit at the end of each financial year, on both costs and numbers of staff, the results of which will be placed in the Library.

Primary Care Trusts

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the standard notice period is for the chief executive of an NHS primary care trust. [199124]

Mr. Hutton: There is currently no standard national contract for national health service primary care trust chief executives. The period of notice is, therefore, defined in law by the terms of each individual's contract of employment with their employer. The precise terms
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of a contract may vary from individual to individual. Details of individual contracts are not held centrally by the Department.

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