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5 Apr 2005 : Column 1440W—continued


Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many interpreters are employed in the NHS; what their roles are; and if he will make a statement. [224474]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 4 April 2005]: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Interpreters will have a variety of roles within the national health service. It is for primary care trusts in partnership with strategic health authorities and other local stakeholders to plan, develop and improve services for local people.


Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many IVF embryos were destroyed between 1991 and 2004; [222719]

(2) how many IVF embryos are held in freezing facilities. [222720]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised me that between 1991 and 2004, 814,537 embryos were allowed to perish.

The HFEA has also advised me that information provided to it by licensed centres indicates that the total number of embryos held in storage as at 31 March 2004 was 117,619. This is the most recent date for which information is available.

These figures are derived from data on the HFEA register, which is currently being audited to improve the accuracy of the information available. The data may, therefore, be subject to future amendment following the completion of the modernisation programme in March 2006.

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) the NHS and (b) healthcare professionals are statutorily obliged to follow guidance issued by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. [224660]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 4 April 2005]: Decisions on whether to prescribe medicines, including decisions to prescribe outside the licensed indications, are for individual clinicians, subject to any local
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national health service arrangements or protocols. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance on the use of medicines should also be taken into account

Where a NHS body or a healthcare professional is manufacturing, supplying, prescribing or administering a medicine or a medical device, it must comply with the relevant legislation governing that activity, such as the Medicines Act 1968 and the Medical Devices Regulations 2002. The MHRA issues guidance as to the application and interpretation of such legislation, which should by considered by any person or body subject to its provisions.

Mental Health

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which primary care trusts spent less than the national average on mental health in 2003–04. [217579]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Estimates of primary care trust (PCT) expenditure on mental health are provided by the programme budgeting returns. The list shows PCTs with below average spend, where the average is defined in terms of spend per 100,000 unified weighted population, which takes account of population age and need.

PCTs with spend less than average calculated on the basis of spend per 100,000 unified weighted population

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which specialist mental health helplines outside NHS Direct receive funding from his Department; and what the (a) remit, (b) types of mental health conditions handled, (c) geographical coverage, (d) opening hours and (e) the average length of calls were of each in the last period for which figures are available. [222663]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In December 1997, the Department launched the CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) telephone helpline in Manchester in response to the high rate of suicide and depression among young men aged 15 to 35 years old. The Department provides core funding for CALM, with local funding provided by local health and social care agencies.

The CALM initiative is aimed at raising awareness of depression amongst 15 to 35-year-old men and encouraging them to seek help. As part of this work, CALM provides a specialist national freephone mental
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health helpline for young men with feelings of depression that offers confidential information, advice, referrals and telephone counselling from specially trained professional advisers. While the campaign is targeted at young men, all callers will receive the same basic service, regardless of gender, age, culture or sexual orientation.

CALM's services are focused on Manchester, Merseyside and Bedfordshire and callers to the helpline from these areas will receive, in addition to the help and support already mentioned for all callers, information about local services.

CALM's helpline is available from 5 pm to 3 am seven days a week, 365 days a year. When the service is closed, callers receive a message that provides details of opening hours and the telephone number for the Samaritans, should the caller wish to speak with someone urgently.

The CALM helpline receives an average of 8,000 'interactive' calls every year, often long and in-depth. The average call time is 18 minutes. The helpline also receives many thousands of silent calls where the caller was not willing to talk.

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