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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Answer of 15 December 2004, Official Report, column 1155W, on nurse numbers, how many students entered training to become a nurse or midwife in (a) 199697 and (b) the most recent year for which figures are available; and what proportion of entrants (i) completed their training and (ii) commenced practice in each year. 
Mr. Hutton: The table shows the number of nurses and midwives entering pre-registration training in 199697 and the latest available year.
Information on the number of nurses who complete training each year was collected by the English National Board for Nursing until its abolition in March 2002 with the creation of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The latest complete information is only available for the 199798 cohort of nursing and midwifery students, of whom 72 per cent., had completed training by October 2001.
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The NMC holds information on the number of nurses and midwives initially entering the register, a pre-requisite for employment in the national health service and other sectors in the United Kingdom. This information can be found at www.nmc-uk.org.
Miss Begg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurses working in the NHS have been recruited from overseas; how many have dependent children; and how many earn less than a gross annual income of (a) £20,000, (b) £15,000, (c) £13,480 and (d) £5,060 from their employment with the national health service. 
Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not collected centrally. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registers all nurses who work in the United Kingdom. The NMC provides a statistical analysis of the register; this can be found on the NMC website at www.nmc-uk.org.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what new procedures have been implemented for early detection of ovarian cancer in the last five years. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: There is currently no evidence that introducing screening for the early detection of ovarian cancer would save lives. At the moment, there is no screening test reliable enough to be used in women with no symptoms.
Currently the United Kingdom Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening (UKCTOCS) trial is investigating whether screening using CA125 blood test or ultrasound detection will detect ovarian cancer in its early stage. Unlike cervical cancer there is no recognised pre-cancerous abnormalities of the ovary that can be detected and treated. 200,000 women are involved in this study and it will report around 2010. This study is also looking at the implications of introducing ovarian cancer screening into the national health service, what anxieties and fears being screened may raise and what complications might arise.
There is also the nearly completed research, commissioned by the Department, on identifying significant diagnostic factors for ovarian cancer in primary care. This research aims to determine approximately the degree of risk represented by different symptoms and combinations of symptoms, to determine cancer detection rates resulting from different referral strategies and ascertain which factors may contribute to delays in referral or diagnosis.
In 1999, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) published "Improving Outcomes Guidance for Gynaecological Cancers" outlining how the NHS treats patients with gynaecological cancer, including ovarian cancer. One of the major outcomes of this guidance was the introduction of specialist teams to treat gynaecological cancers and these have been in place since the guidance was published.
Patients urgently referred by a general practitioner with suspected cancer should be seen within two weeks. Latest figures show that 99.5 per cent. of suspected gynaecological cancer referrals were seen within the two-week period.
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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department is doing to ensure that more hospitals move up the score ladder of the Patient Environment Action Team. 
Mr. Hutton: The patient environment action team (PEAT) score is based on the standards observed on the day of the assessment. It is for each national health service trust to take action locally to maintain and where necessary, improve those standards. Any improvements made since 2004 will be reflected in the 2005 assessments.
Since the launch of the clean hospitals programme, £68 million has been allocated to the NHS to assist in raising standards. The Department has also issued a range of advice, guidance and best practice on ensuring high standards of cleanliness, including the "National Specifications for Cleanliness", the "NHS Healthcare Facilities Cleaning Manual" and "Guidance on Contracting for Cleaning". NHS Estates also provides an advice and support service for any hospitals assessed as less than acceptable to assist them in addressing the shortfalls identified.
Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on patient forums in Greenwich; 
(2) how much has been spent on consultant fees to support patient forums in Greenwich; and what the total cost of setting up the forums has been; 
(3) how many local residents are serving on patient forums in Greenwich; and how many have resigned since they were set up. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The following patients' forums cover the borough of Greenwich:
These four patients' forums have a total of 23 members, 10 of whom live in Greenwich. Since January 2004, 12 members from these four forums have resigned. Three interviews for new members have been scheduled and the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) is awaiting further documentation for eight other prospective volunteers. The CPPIH has not employed any consultants to support patients' forums(support to patients' forums is provided under contract with voluntary and charitable organisations.
The CPPIH budget for setting up patients' forums and supporting them in 200304 was £30 million.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many press officers are employed in the Department. 
Ms Rosie Winterton:
I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 18 November 2004.
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Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on waiting times at the Accident and Emergency Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. 
Dr. Ladyman: Information is collected for national health service trusts rather than individual accident and emergency departments. During the quarter ending September 2004 96.4 per cent. of patients at Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust spent less than four hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures will be taken to reduce the salt content of processed foods to the target set by his Department for 2010. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department and the Food Standards Agency are working together with all parts of the food industry, including retailers and manufacturers, to reduce the salt levels of processed foods. The aim is to reduce average population intakes of salt to six grams per person day by 2010.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost of increasing the level of the savings disregard to £15.51 for people supported by local authorities in residential care. 
Dr. Ladyman: A savings disregard is applied to all people supported by local authorities in residential care where income exceeds £79.60. The full disregard is applied to all people supported by the local authority whose weekly income exceeds £87.35 even if their weekly income is so great they would not normally qualify for savings credit.
The cost of raising the maximum savings disregard for older supported care home residents to £15.51 per week cannot be calculated precisely, as there are no recent data available on the distribution of income of these residents. A best estimate is that the annual cost is likely to be in the range £70 million to £85 million.
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