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Infection Control

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures his Department recommends for use in infection control in primary care in the NHS. [207621]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 10 January 2005]: In 2003 the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidelines, commissioned by the Department, on "Infection Control: prevention of healthcare associated infection in primary and community care". These guidelines are part of the Government"s consistent approach to support evidence-based practice in infection control. and are a good basis for developing local policies. The guidelines are available on NICE'S website.

Midwives

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many midwife vacancies there were in (a) England, (b) each strategic health authority and (c) each primary care trust in each year since 1997; and what the vacancy rate was in each case in each year. [207628]

Mr. Hutton: Information on the number and rate of vacancies lasting three months or more has been collected by the Department in each year since March 1999.

The vast majority of midwives are employed by national health service organisations other than primary care trusts; information on three month vacancies for midwives in all NHS organisations in England, in each year since 1999, has been placed in the Library.

Pay Television Subscriptions

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many pay television subscriptions the Department had in each year since 1997; and what the cost was in each year. [207665]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In 1997–98, a Parliamentary annunciator system was introduced, which provides a direct feed from the Palace of Westminster. This is a free service to hon. and right hon. Members in their ministerial offices,

The only payment the Department makes for a television service is to the Central Office of Information for the viewing of Select Committees, which costs £27,739.40 per year.

Prostate Cancer

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of possible links between pesticides and prostate cancer. [208243]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The independent Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COC) has recently completed a review of prostate cancer. The COC has concluded that there is some limited evidence to suggest an association between farmers/farm workers, exposure to pesticides and increased risk of prostate cancer. The
 
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COC advice is to be considered by the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) at its meeting on 13 January 2005. The ACP is the principal source of regulatory advice to Government on pesticides.

Psychiatric Appointments (Blackburn)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many psychiatric appointments at Queen's Park Hospital, Blackburn were (a) booked, (b) cancelled by the hospital and (c) cancelled by patients in the past 12 months. [206582]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the members of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency's expert working group on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors will be required to publish their interests. [206943]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The interests held by the members of the committee on safety of medicines (CSM) expert working group on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were published in the annual report of the GSM for 2003. A copy is available in the Library.

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many studies considered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency's expert working group on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors included (a) raw data from clinical trials and (b) summaries of data. [206944]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The findings of the committee on safety of medicines' expert working group on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were based on detailed analysis of a number of sources of data including clinical trial data provided by pharmaceutical companies, studies on the general practice research database, the published literature and individual reports from health professionals and patients. Full details of the data considered and the conclusions of the expert working group are presented in the report of the group, which is available on the website of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk). Copies of the report are available in the Library.

Surgical Urology (Dorchester)

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will provide financial assistance for patients travelling to Bournemouth for surgical urology treatments currently available at Dorchester, if these treatments cease to be available at Dorchester. [207594]

Ms Rosie Winterton: It is now for primary care trusts (PCTs) in partnership with strategic health authorities (SHAs) and other local stakeholders to plan, develop and improve services for local people. We recognise that health services are better when management is devolved to the frontline. Within the framework set out in the NHS Plan and other policy documents, PCTs with their specialised knowledge of the local community are
 
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effectively able to manage and improve local services. It is therefore up to the local PCT to agree to reimburse patients' travelling.

Where necessary, patients are free to apply for reimbursement under the Hospital Travel Costs Scheme if they are eligible. Further details of the hospital travel cost scheme have been placed in the Library and are also available at www.dh.gov.uk.

Tooth Decay

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in reducing dental decay for five-year-olds in England since 1997; and whether he expects to meet his targets in the same group for (a) the average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth and (b) the percentage with no dental caries. [206729]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The report of the decennial national child dental health survey 2003 shows that dental decay in 8, 12 and 15-year-old children has decreased since 1983 to its lowest recorded level. 12-year-old children in England have the best oral health of that age group in Europe.

The targets set in 1994 were that 12-year-olds should have no more than an average of 1.0 teeth with decay experience, 70 per cent. of five-year-olds should have no decay experience and that five-year-olds should have no more than an average of 1.0 teeth with decay experience. The 2003 survey found that 12-year-olds in England had an average of 0.7 teeth with obvious decay experience, 59 per cent. of five-year-olds in England had no primary teeth with obvious decay experience and the average number of primary teeth with obvious decay in five-year-olds was 1.5. Therefore the target for 12-year-olds was achieved with a substantial margin, but those for five-year-olds were not met.

The fluoridation of water offers the best prospect for improving the oral health of children. The 2003 Water Act transferred responsibility for deciding whether an area"s water supply should be fluoridated from the water company to the strategic health authority (SHA)—provided that the local population is in favour. We have been consulting on how SHAs should assess local opinion and will shortly be laying regulations before the House on the procedures they should follow.

Working Time Directive (Derbyshire)

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost of implementing the European Working Time Directive for NHS trusts in (a) West Derbyshire constituency and (b) Derbyshire in each of the last three years. [207443]

Mr. Hutton: We do not collect this information centrally.

Implementation of the Working Time Directive is a local matter for national health service trusts, performance managed by strategic health authorities.
 
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