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18 Jan 2005 : Column 880W—continued

Mobile Phones

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice he is offering to the parents of young children on their access to and use of mobile phones; and if he will make a statement. [209161]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Our advice to parents of children and young people under 16 on the use of mobile phones is set out in the leaflet "Mobile phones and Health", available on the Department of Health website It states "the UK Chief Medical Officers strongly advise that where children and young people do use mobile phones, they should be encouraged to:

The advice adds that "if parents want to avoid their children being subject to any possible risk that might be identified in the future, the way to do it is to exercise their choice not to let their children use mobile phones."

A new report from the National Radiological Protection Board issued on 11 January 2005 entitled Mobile Phones and Health 2004 (Docs of the NRPB, Volume 15, No. 5) recommends that limiting the use of mobile phones by children remains an appropriate precautionary measure. Copies of the report have been placed in the Library and are available on the NRPB website
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Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have suffered long-term illness as a result of contracting MRSA infections in each of the last 10 years. [208810]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 17 January 2005]: This information is not held centrally, and cannot be obtained without incurring disproportionate costs.


Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the NHS capacity is of specialist neuro-radiologists. [208849]

Mr. Hutton: The Department does not collect data at sub-specialty level. Neuro-radiology is a sub-specialty of clinical radiology.

As at June 2004, there were 1,859 consultant clinical radiologists, an increase of 417 or 29 per cent. since September 1997. The number of staff within the registrar group has also increased by 290 or 56 per cent. between September 1997 and September 2003.

These increases will increase the pool from which specialist neuro-radiologists may be drawn.

Overseas Recruitment

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how his Department assesses whether or not a country has a surplus of a particular healthcare profession when considering overseas recruitment. [209038]

Mr. Hutton: We have close relationships with the British embassies with whom we liaise before considering international recruitment. The Department has a number of Government-to-Government agreements with countries who have indicated they are happy for us to work with them to internationally recruit healthcare staff and is committed to an ethical approach to international recruitment.

Prostate Cancer

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to reduce the prevalence of prostate cancer; and if he will make a statement. [204481]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Experts do not know the underlying cause of prostate cancer. We do know that the largest risk factor is age, with family history, ethnicity, diet and some occupational factors also playing a role. There has also been an increase in the number of prostate cancer being detected. Experts do not know if this is due to an increased risk of prostate cancer or to an increase in testing for prostate cancer. The lengthening of life expectancy may also have a role in this increase.

We do know that prostate cancers can be broken down into slow growing, non-aggressive and fast growing, aggressive types. The vast majority of prostate cancers are slow growing and will not cause any harm to the man in his lifetime. The fast growing account for approximately 20 per cent. of prostate cancers and if left untreated will cause harm.
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The dilemma has been that we do not know how to distinguish between the fast and slow growing types. That is why we promised to spend £4.2 million on research into prostate cancer by 2003–4, which was achieved. This was part of the NHS prostate cancer programme, published in September 2000. In addition to enhancing research into prostate cancer, the Programme also aimed to improve the early detection of prostate cancer and to improve treatment and care for patients with prostate cancer.

Good progress has been made, and is reflected in the report 'Making progress on prostate cancer', published in November 2004. A copy is available in the Library.

We have also set up the prostate cancer advisory group (PCAG), chaired by Professor Mike Richards, the national cancer director. The overall remit of PCAG is to facilitate collaboration between the Department and patient and professional groups. PCAG is taking forward work on the pubic awareness of prostate cancer, information for prostate cancer patients, improving the treatment of prostate cancer, and developing a national prostate cancer website.

Recovered NHS Costs

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to recover a greater proportion of NHS costs from those responsible for (a) road accidents, (b) accidents at work and (c) other accidents; and if he will make a statement. [207947]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Under the provisions contained in the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999, national health service hospitals can recover costs for treating those injured in road traffic accidents who receive personal injury compensation. The scheme recovers around £105 million per year, which is paid directly to the hospitals that have provided treatment.

Part three of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 contains the legislative framework for expanding the scheme to include recovery of NHS hospital and ambulance services costs in all cases where personal injury compensation is paid. The Department has recently consulted on the draft regulations that will govern the operation of the expanded scheme. Ministers are currently considering the outcome of this consultation, which closed on 17 December 2004.

Regional Tobacco Control Managers

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 30 November 2004, Official Report, column 111W, on regional tobacco control managers, what expenditure has been allocated to regional tobacco control managers since May 2003 for the funding of local tobacco alliances. [208963]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Amounts allocated to each Government Office for the Region (GOR) for tobacco control and funding of alliance work are set out in the following table.
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North East194,000194,000
Yorkshire and Humber218,000217,000
North West242,000242,000
West Midlands221,000221,000
East Midlands206,000206,000
South East241,000241,000
South West214,000214,000

Supermarket Meat (Salt)

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the health implications of the adding of salt to meat by supermarkets to increase weight; and what representations he has made to supermarkets regarding this practice. [207217]

Miss Melanie Johnson: A high intake of salt in the diet is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The Food Standards Agency has held discussions with the British Retail Consortium and others on the practice of adding salt to meat and meat products and the importance of clear labelling. In conjunction with the agency, I have also held discussions with individual supermarket companies regarding the salt content of processed foods and the need for reductions across product categories.


Child Support Agency

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his timetable for transferring the live caseload of the Northern Ireland Child Support Agency to the new Child Support Scheme is. [208570]

Mr. Spellar: In line with the Child Support Agency in Great Britain, the Northern Ireland Child Support Agency has been processing new applications using the new computer system and the new legislation since March 2003.

The introduction of the new computer system has not been without its problems. Therefore, existing cases will be transferred to the new scheme only when the Minister for the Department of Work and Pensions is satisfied that the new computer system is working well. No decision has been made as to when this will happen.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the performance of (a) the Eastern Business Unit and (b) the Northern Ireland operations of the Northern Ireland Child Support Agency during 2004–05 in securing maintenance on behalf of children. [208572]

Mr. Spellar: The following information is provided in respect of the performance of Eastern Business Unit for 2004–05:

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The following information is provided in respect of performance of the Northern Ireland Child Support Agency for 2004–05:

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