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Accident and Emergency Services

Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were blue lighted in the Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust hospital in each of the last five years. [214476]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Aircraft Charters

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money his Department has spent on chartering aircraft in each of the past five years. [213717]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We are unaware of departmental Ministers or officials having chartered any planes.

Antiviral Drugs

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether he has stockpiled the antiviral drugs (a) Tamiflu and (b) Relenza; [211690]

(2) how many doses of (a) Tamiflu and (b) other antivirals the Government has stockpiled; and what plans his Department has to increase these stockpiles; [213139]

(3) what plans he has to maintain a supply of antiviral drugs to protect against a flu pandemic. [212224]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 1 February 2005]: Supplies of antivirals are available in the national health service to meet seasonal influenza demands. In addition, the Department has a national stockpile of 100,000 courses of Tamiflu and is currently reviewing arrangements for pandemic influenza, including the use of antivirals.


Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of people were diagnosed with mental health problems directly relating to consumption of cannabis in the last year for which figures are available. [211229]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department does not collect data on the number of people who were diagnosed with mental health problems directly relating to consumption of cannabis.

Childhood Vaccines

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will remove (a) formaldehyde, (b) mercury, (c) foetal calf serum and (d) monkey kidney cells from UK childhood vaccines. [210276]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: Formaldehyde is used as an inactivating agent to eliminate poliovirus infectivity. Also, it is used to inactivate diphtheria and tetanus toxins. Gluteraldehyde, a closely related chemical, is used to inactivate acellular pertussis toxins. The quantities present in the new vaccines are low, and less than 0.1 milligrams of formaldehyde and less than 0.02 mg gluteraldehyde per 0.5 millilitre dose. Formaldehyde is present naturally in the human body at levels of about 2.5 micrograms per ml of blood. For a two month old child, this is about 10 times as much as in the amount present in a single dose of vaccine. There is no evidence that these quantities pose a risk to health and there are no plans to remove these substances from vaccines.

None of the current vaccines used in the childhood immunisation programme contain mercury. Thiomersal, which releases ethylmercury, has played an important role either as a preservative or in the initial stages of the manufacture of some vaccines for over 60 years. Thiomersal was contained in the diphtheria, tetanus and whole cell pertussis (DTwP) and diphtheria and tetanus vaccines. However, with the introduction of the new vaccine Pediacel on 27 September 2004, the routine childhood immunisation programme no longer includes mercury-containing vaccines.

Foetal bovine serum is an essential growth supplement for the cells used for the propagation of live viruses. The bovine serums used have demonstrated compliance with European Union regulations for minimising the risk of transmitting animal spongiform encephalopathy agents via human and veterinary medicines. The serum is used solely in the early stage of the manufacturing process of the vaccine and is reduced to trace amounts during purification and dilution steps.

The monkey kidney cell line used for the production of inactivated poliovirus in the new vaccines has been extensively examined for contaminating viruses. The cell line meets the requirements of the World Health Organisation and European Pharmacopoeia. To exclude the risk of extraneous viral contamination each production lot is examined for contaminating viruses during the production process. The viral inactivation process has been fully validated. No monkey kidney cells are present in the final vaccine.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to respond to the request of the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam for a meeting to discuss plans for a critical care hospital in Sutton and Cheam constituency. [215851]

Dr. Ladyman: I look forward to meeting the hon. Member on Wednesday 23 February to discuss this matter.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what average length of time posts were vacant in the Community Dental Service for each year since 1997, in (a) England, (b) strategic health authorities and (c) primary care trusts; and what the vacancy rate was in each case. [209037]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: The information that is available centrally is collected in the national health service workforce vacancy survey and combines hospital, public health and community dentists. In March 2004, the vacancy rate from the survey for dental staff was 4.1 per cent. The only breakdown available is by strategic health authority (SHA). This is shown in the table.
Three monthly dental staff vacancy rates in NHS trusts by SHA areas(10) (excluding training grades)

SHAPercentage rate
Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire6.1
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire(11)
North West London0.0
North Central London0.0
North East London3.6
South East London2.3
South West London0.0
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear4.1
County Durham and Tees Valley(11)
North and East Yorks and Northern Lincs18.3
West Yorkshire8.6
Cumbria and Lancashire0.0
Greater Manchester5.3
Cheshire and Merseyside0.0
Thames Valley6.8
Hampshire and Isle Of Wight0.0
Kent and Medway—;(11)
Surrey and Sussex0.0
Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire0.0
South West Peninsula5.3
Dorset and Somerset0.0
South Yorkshire6.5
Leics, Northants and Rutland15.7
Shropshire and Staffordshire0.0
Birmingham and The Black Country0.0
West Midlands South0.0

(10) SHA figures are based on trusts and do not necessarily reflect the geographical provision of healthcare.
(11) Figures where staff in post and number of vacancies are less than 10. Three month vacancies are vacancies as at 31 March 2004 which trusts are actively trying to fill, which had lasted for three months or more (whole-time equivalents).
Department of Health vacancies survey 2004.

Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dentists have started work full-time in the NHS in response to the returning to dentistry campaign. [211729]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 31 January 2005]: The returning to dentistry campaign was aimed primarily at people returning from a career break who want to return to work part-time. We have been informed of 65 dentists who have returned to national health service dentistry since April 2004, equating to 37 whole time equivalent dentists. We do not collect information on which of these people returned to work in response to the Keeping In Touch scheme (ongoing) or the returning to dentistry campaign, which began at the end of June 2004.

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to improve NHS dentistry in the Eastleigh area. [214574]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 9 February 2005]: We are investing an extra £368 million in national health service dentistry, recruiting 1,000 more dentists by October 2005 and reforming the dental
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system to improve the long-term oral health of the nation. For 2005–06, this will increase the funds available for NHS dentistry by over 19 per cent. over the 2003–04 expenditure.

In 2004–05, the Department has allocated a total of £50 million to strategic health authorities (SHAs) to support access. Of this sum, £1.5 million has been allocated to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight SHA, to improve access, choice and quality in NHS dentistry.

Eastleigh and Test Valley South Primary Care Trust has developed a dental action plan and has received £176,000 to take this forward.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to improve access to NHS dentists in Hendon. [207946]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We have undertaken a review of the dental primary care workforce in consultation with representatives of the dental profession—professional bodies, dental academics, as well as the British Dental Association. The National Health Service workforce will be increased by the equivalent of 1,000 dentists by October 2005, allowing up to an extra two million people to be treated nationally.

By April 2006, primary care trusts (PCTs) will be responsible for securing the provision of primary dental care services, either through a contract with an individual practices or by providing services themselves. PCTs, including those within London, have been drawing up local dentistry action plans setting out how they are using their proportion of the £59 million additional funding we have allocated to improve access to NHS dentistry this year, and their priorities for commissioning in 2005–06.

Barnet PCT is also preparing for the new dental contract by working to develop an oral health and dental strategy aimed at improving the oral health of the local population, tackling health inequalities and supporting and planning dental services. This will allow the PCT to support and develop primary dental services in a proactive and co-ordinated Way.

There are currently 208 general dental practitioners in Barnet PCT. This includes dentists, orthodontists and vocational trainee dentists providing NHS general dentist services from 87 practices. Barnet PCT has received an allocation in 2004–05 of £309,000 from the Department to support improved access and quality of dental services and there were 884 additional patient registrations between March and September 2004.

Barnet PCT also has a dental access centre which is located in the walk-in centre at Edgware Community Hospital.

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