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Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what additional resources are being made available to the Commission for Healthcare Improvement to reduce the length of time it is taking to obtain decisions on appeals referred to the Commission; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) if, when he next meets the Chairman of the Commission for Healthcare Improvement, he will impress upon him the need to speed up decisions on healthcare reviews. 
Mr. Hutton: The Healthcare Commission took on its role in handling the independent review stage of the national health service complaints process at the end of July 2004. I understand from the chairman of the Commission that, since then, it has received more requests for independent review than planned for.
The Commission will be increasing its capacity appropriately to deal with the level of referrals.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the maximum waiting time is for cosmetic surgery on the NHS; 
(2) what criteria are used to decide whether (a) plastic and (b) cosmetic surgery is urgent; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hutton: Surgery may be carried out in the national health service to correct or treat disfigurements or deformity, or to restore form and function. Typical causes include congenital defects, trauma and cancer. This is usually termed plastic surgery. Urgency is a matter for clinical decision on a case-by-case basis. Operations carried out purely for beautification purposes with no underlying clinical need are usually termed cosmetic surgery and are not provided in the NHS.
The maximum waiting time target for all inpatient specialties, including plastic surgery, is nine months and this will fall to six months by the end of 2005.
Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to inform hon. Members of the cost of augmented Criminal Records Bureau checks carried out by primary care trusts on medical performers; and how many medical performers have been discovered to have failed such checks. 
Mr. Hutton: The cost of carrying out enhanced Criminal Records Bureau disclosures on general practitioners is likely to be in the region of £1,115,000. Information is not kept centrally on the number of GPs whose criminal record might bring into question their continuance on medical performers' lists.
Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what documents a medical performer must show to a local primary care trust to pass the augmented Criminal Records Bureau check. 
Mr. Hutton: To apply for a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check, general practitioners need to complete an application form for a disclosure. They also need to produce documents to verify their identity to the primary care trust, which countersigns the application to the CRB.
Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the (a) cost to and (b) time taken by primary care trusts in Somerset in ensuring that all medical performers have an augmented check. 
Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not collected centrally.
Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, on whose authority the decision was taken to check that all medical performers had been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau. 
Mr. Hutton: It was under the authority of the Secretary of State that the decision was taken that all general practitioners working in the national health service should be cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research he has recently (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effects of the (i) Food Supplements Directive and (ii) Traditional Herbal Medicines Directive on the British food supplements industry; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) if he will seek to negotiate a derogation from (a) the Food Supplements Directive and (b) the Traditional Herbal Medicines Directive. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam, Mr. Burstow, on 6 December, Official Report, columns 3512W.
A partial regulatory impact assessment on the Directive on traditional herbal medicinal products (Directive 2004/24/EC) was published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in 2003. Work is in progress to update this assessment in the light of detailed ongoing discussions about implementation of this directive between the MHRA and the herbal forum, representing United Kingdom manufacturers' trade associations operating in the herbal sector. An aim of this discussion is to contain the regulatory burden on industry consistent with the protection of public health and compliance with the requirements of the directive.
15 Dec 2004 : Column 1151W
The Directive on traditional herbal medicinal products relates only to herbal products that are classified as medicines and does not affect the regulation of food supplements. During the negotiations, the UK achieved key priorities as identified in discussions between the MHRA and stakeholders. These included the possibility, for which the UK health food sector had pressed, for simplified registration under the directive of traditional herbal medicines containing ancillary vitamins and minerals. Currently such medicines require a full marketing authorisation. Additionally, to allow companies time to adjust to the new requirements, there is a seven-year transitional period starting in April 2004 before herbal medicines that were legally on the market at that date are required to comply with the directive. We have no plans to seek derogation from the terms of this directive.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients there were for each general practitioner in Ribble Valley and Fulwood on the most recent date for which figures are available. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The information requested is shown in the table.
|Hyndburn and Ribble Valley|
PCT Preston PCT
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many general practitioners there are per head of population in each of the primary care trusts in the Ribble Valley and Fulwood constituency. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The information requested is shown in the following table.
|General medical practitioners (excluding retainers, registrars and locums)(15)|
|General medical practitioners (excluding retainers, registrars and locums)(15) per 100,000 weighted population|
|Hyndburn and Ribble|
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