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21 Feb 2005 : Column 176W—continued

Nurses' Uniforms

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what policy guidelines have been issued to NHS trusts since 1997 on the wearing by nurses of hospital uniform while travelling to and from their place of work (a) privately and (b) by public transport; [214734]

(2) what policy guidelines have been issued to NHS trusts since 1997 on the laundering of nurses' uniforms privately by individuals at home; and if he will make a statement; [214763]

(3) what research has been carried out since 1997 to establish the (a) mechanical efficiency and (b) hygienic effectiveness, of the washing of nurses' uniforms at home; and if he will make a statement; [214765]

(4) what monitoring is conducted by NHS trusts to ensure nurses' uniforms laundered at home are free from bacterial contamination; and if he will make a statement; [214766]

(5) what policy guidelines are in place for NHS trusts on the laundering of (a) bed linen for hospital beds and (b) curtains around hospital beds; and if he will make a statement. [214767]

Mr. Hutton: Health Service Guidance (95) 18, published in 1995, provides advice and guidance to NHS organisations on the use of laundry practices. This includes hospital bed linen and curtains around beds. The guidance covers the issue of temperature and disinfection. With regard to nurses' uniforms, dilution in domestic washing machines will effectively disinfect them. Single use aprons and other equipment should be used if contamination is likely and if a uniform is visibly soiled then it should be put through a healthcare laundry intended for such items.

It is for individual national health service trusts to determine their own policy on the laundering of nurses' uniforms and the wearing of those uniforms outdoors. The prevention and control of infection is part of the overall risk management within the healthcare environment and NHS trusts are required to have risk management protocols in place with regard to effective laundry practices. The monitoring of the cleanliness of nurses' uniforms should be part of these protocols.

Patient Charges Review

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Department's review of patient charges; what the remit of the review is; and when it is expected to report. [208102]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The national health service dentistry patient charges working group, chaired by Harry Cayton, was asked to recommend how the system of NHS dentistry charges might be made easier for
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patients to understand and simpler for dentists to operate, without increasing the overall proportion of the dentistry budget raised. We are currently considering the group's proposals and expect to publish Regulations, for consultation, in the summer of 2005.

Payment by Results Initiative

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to introduce the payment by results initiative; what assessment he has made of the likely consequences of the initiative for the Royal Free Hospital; and if he will make a statement. [210479]

Mr. Hutton: Payment by results has been in use by national health service organisations, for a small amount of activity, since the beginning of the financial year 2004–05. The planned, gradual implementation path will result in approximately 90 per cent. of hospital activity being covered by payment by results by 2008–09.

Payment by results will offer the Royal Free Hospital, and all other NHS providers, a fair reward for activity undertaken. The way in which the scheme affects the hospital will depend on its efficiency and future activity.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what mechanisms are in place to ensure that hospitals and other healthcare providers are able to remove themselves from the menus of outlying primary care trusts if their total treatment costs lie above the total tariff revenue they will receive through payment by results. [210827]

Mr. Hutton: None. The use of the national tariff will be mandatory for all commissioners of national health service services.

Primary Care Trusts

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the optimum number of patients in a primary care trust. [215509]

Mr. Hutton: The new NHS White Paper of 1997 suggested that primary care groups (PCGs), the forerunners of primary care trusts (PCTs),

However, this was qualified by the acknowledgement that there must be flexibility to reflect local circumstances.

These local circumstances include the advantages that coterminosity between PCTs and local authorities brings, as this facilitates joint-working by the national health service and social services. Geography is also important, as rural PCTs would need to cover a much larger geographical area to serve the same population as urban PCTs. Finally the configuration of hospitals and other health providers results in natural health communities which are not of equal size across the country.

The impact of these local circumstances on size is such that the Department has never given a figure for the optimum number of patients in a PCT. However, PCTs have tended to be larger than PCGs, as a result of their greater functions and the desire to achieve economies of scale.
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Pharmaceuticals Expenditure

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the expenditure per capita was on pharmaceuticals in each OECD country in each of the last five years. [214361]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The data requested is available in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) publication OECD Health Data 2004—a Comprehensive Analysis of 30 Countries''. A copy is available in the Library. Information can also be accessed through the OECD website at:


Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on postage by the Department in each year since 1997. [215018]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The spend on postage for each year since 1997 is shown in the table.

Prescription Charges

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the administration cost of prescription charge pre-payment certificates per certificate. [208123]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In 2003–04, patients purchased 1,062,263 prescription pre-payment certificates from the Prescription Pricing Authority. During the period, the cost of administering the sale of these certificates was around £1.5 million. The estimated administrative cost was £1.41 per certificate.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on the impact of the setting of targets on (a) total time in accident and emergency and (b) in-patient waiting times on radiology departments; and if he will make a statement. [213469]

Mr. Hutton: No recent representations have been received.

Research Reports

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what percentage of opportunities for research or consulting disseminated by the Department resulted in (a) research reports and (b) physical deliverables in each year since 2001–02. [207005]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The dissemination policy of the Department's directly funded Policy Research Programme (PRP) is to encourage publication of research findings widely and in different fora so they can inform policy and practice at different levels and in
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different ways. All research projects commissioned by the PRP have at least one deliverable in the form of a final report and it is only in exceptional circumstances that a final report would not be made publicly available.

The number of PRP projects completed in the three years from 2001–02, and which resulted in a final report that underwent peer review, was:

The Department also funds national research and development programmes that provide the evidence needed to underpin quality improvement and service development in the national health service. All research projects commissioned by these programmes result in a final report. Publication in peer review journals is explicitly encouraged.

The largest of the NHS research and development programmes, the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme, publishes in excess of forty reports a year in the HTA Monograph series. Full details can be found at

The new and emerging applications of technology programme has separately generated the following number of new methods, procedures or prototypes.

The Department has used the LINK collaborative research scheme as a means of sponsoring the pre-commercial or strategic development and assessment of new technology. The MedLINK programme, which ran from 1996 to 2001, supported projects with the potential to lead to new medical devices for prevention, diagnosis, monitoring or treatment of illness or injury. A total of 48 projects received Government support of £15 million. The number of those projects completed in the years in question and where the output included proof of principle prototypes was:

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