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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what his policy is on the use of telephones in his Department by members of staff for their own personal use for (a) domestic and (b) international calls; and if he will make a statement; 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department's policy on the use of telephones by members of staff for their own personal use is to allow short personal calls within the United Kingdom. Calls should last no longer than a few minutes per day.
The Department has ensured that telephones are not used by staff for making unauthorised personal calls to international numbers, by barring telephones from accessing international numbers unless this is required for business purposes.
Invoices for international call charges are monitored centrally in detail to ensure that any abuse of the facilities would be picked up at an early stage. In addition, a breakdown of the most expensive telephone numbers is issued to business areas on a quarterly basis to enable managers to monitor telephone usage by their staff.
As direct dialling is employed on all Department of Health telephones there is no data held centrally which would enable an estimate of unauthorised personal calls to domestic or international numbers to be made.
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Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the risks of driving while taking (a) benzodiazepines, (b) tricyclic antidepressants and (c) antihistamines; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) if he will introduce changes to labelling of (a) benzodiazepines, (b) tricyclic antidepressants and (c) antihistamines to ensure clear advice on possible effects on driving when taking such medication is included; and if he will make a statement. 
(3) if he will commission research on the experience in other EU countries of the effects on the incidence of road accidents of labelling pharmaceutical packaging to include information on the effects of the drug on driving, with particular reference to (a) benzodiazepines, (b) tricyclic antidepressants and (c) antihistamines; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: It is recognised that some medicines may affect ability to drive. Where a particular medicine or class of medicines is known to affect a patient's ability to drive, a warning is included in both the product information for prescribersthe summary of product characteristicsand patientsthe patient information leaflet. Antihistamines, which cause drowsiness are is included in both the product information for prescribersthe summary of product characteristicsand patientsthe patient information leaflet. Antihistamines, which cause drowsiness are required by law to include a warning on the outer label concerning the need for caution regarding driving.
In addition, for certain groups of drugs, including benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants and sedating antihistamines, warning labels in relation to driving are added at the time of dispensing of the medicine by the pharmacist, in line with guidance provided in the British National Formulary.
The impact of medicines, which may affect the ability to drive on the incidence of road traffic accidents is unclear. There is very limited information systematically recorded by the police in the United Kingdom or elsewhere on accident causation due to the effects of medication.
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Studies are currently ongoing to evaluate the impact of medicines on the risk of road traffic accidents. In particular, the European Commission is supporting a three year extensive research programme named IMMORTAL (Impaired Motorists, Methods of Roadside testing and Assessment for Licensing). This study aims to investigate the influence of chronic and acute impairment factors, including impairment from medicines, on driving performance and accident risk. Until the level of risk due to medicines has been identified, it is not possible to assess the effects of medicines labelling on the incidence of road traffic accidents.
Ms Rosie Winterton: In 2003, the National Audit Office (NAO) published its report of the value for money study it carried out into the Medicines Control Agency (now the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency). As part of this study, the NAO produced a supplementary report that compared the workings of regulatory bodies in six countriesthe United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Netherlands, the United States of America, and Canada. The aim of the supplementary report was to draw out common issues, and highlight distinctive features of the different systems. The report can be found on the NAO website at www.nao.org.uk.
Mr. Hutton: Electronic patient records are no different from paper records in terms of their content and legal status. However, particular considerations affect the security, confidentiality and information sharing arrangements for electronic records.
The policy and principles governing access to patient information, and obligations and standards governing its use applying to staff working within or under contract to national health service organisations are contained in the document "Confidentiality: NHS Code of Practice" published in November 2003. Breaches of confidence, or inappropriate use of health records or abuse of computer systems, may lead to disciplinary measures, bring into question professional registration, and possibly result in legal proceedings.
The care record service (CRS) being introduced through the national programme for information technology in the NHS is incorporating stringent security controls and safeguards that will ensure that there is more control over who has access to their information than is possible with existing systems. Under the NHS, CRS patients will also have the right to define some information as especially sensitive and only accessible under terms of explicit consent. This
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reinforces the key statutory safeguards set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, with which all information users must comply.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on entertainment by his Department in each year since 1997, broken down by (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staff and (d) accommodation. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Expenditure arises on hospitality and entertainment only in the context of promoting the Department's business objectives. All such expenditure is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles set out in "Government Accounting".
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