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7 Apr 2005 : Column 1703W—continued

Klinefelter Syndrome

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on treatment for those who have Klinefelter syndrome; and if he will make a statement. [224912]

Dr. Ladyman: Sufferers from Klinefelter's syndrome can have diverse and variable health and social care needs. These needs are best addressed on an individual basis by local health and social care bodies.

Meat Hygiene Service

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his plans for the Meat Hygiene Service. [222970]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) carries out important and valuable work in licensed meat establishments to protect public health, animal health and animal welfare. I have been advised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that the MHS is facing a number of significant changes. These include enforcement arrangements for new European Union food hygiene regulations, which come into force in January 2006; plans to allow beef from cattle over 30 months old back on to the market once robust arrangements for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) testing are in place; and addressing recommendations made in the report of the independent inquiry into BSE testing failures. The MHS is working closely with the Food Standards Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs towards the effective implementation of these changes.

Mental Health

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding his Department has allocated to telephone support lines for people with mental illness in each of the last five years. [224657]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Over the last five years, the Department has allocated a total of £6,837,986 to telephone support lines for people with mental health problems. Details of which are broken down by year in the following table.
Allocation (£)

Mobile Scanner

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment was made of the North Durham area in order to find sites suitable for a mobile scanner. [224220]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 4 April 2005]: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 18 March 2005, Official Report, column 523W.

MRI Scans

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Answer of 9 March 2005, Official Report, column 1910W, on MRI scans, if he will set out for each month for which he has records the information on (a) number of scans, (b) number of rejections, (c) timeliness, (d) quality and (e) customer satisfaction. [222373]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 17 March 2005]: The number of scans performed by Alliance Medical Limited (AML) and customer satisfaction rates for each month is shown in the table.

In relation to information concerning rejections, timeliness and quality, I refer the hon. Member to my reply of 9 March.
Month Number of patients scannedPatient satisfaction (good or excellent) (percentage)

1.Data provided by Alliance Medical, but not validated by the Department.
2.The contract began roll-out in August 2004 and has been fully operational since December 2004.
3.AML first surveyed patients in September 2005. Data for February 2005 is not yet available.

NHS Absences

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many working days have been lost due to (a) sickness and (b) absenteeism in the NHS in each of the past 10 years. [224742]

Mr. Hutton: National data on sickness absence levels in the national health service has only been collected since 1999 and is collected as a percentage rate, rather than the number of working days lost. Data for the period 1999–2003 is shown in the table. National data on other types of absence in the NHS is not collected centrally, but may be available from individual NHS employing organisations.

NHS Beds

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS beds there were in each year since 1997. [223482]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 23 March 2005]: The information requested is available in the Library.

NHS Charges

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what charges have been introduced for NHS services since 1975. [223739]

Mr. Hutton: Regulations governing charging of overseas visitors for national health service hospital treatment were first introduced in 1982. These were subsequently replaced by the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, which remain the basis of the charging arrangements today, although they have been amended from time to time, most recently in April 2004.

Charging for dental examinations was introduced on 1 April 1989.

NHS Contracts

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when his Department adopted the policy of not disclosing the total value of contracts held between the NHS and providers; [224217]

(2) if he will list the companies which tendered for the contract won by Alliance Medical to provide scanning services to the NHS. [224218]

Mr. Hutton: It has always been the Department's policy to decide whether to disclose the value of contracts on a case by case basis.

Information on specific companies that tendered for the contract is commercially sensitive. Releasing the names of companies which were not successful could be considered commercially damaging to the interests of the firms concerned. For this reason, 27 expressions of interest were received and six bidders were invited to negotiate for the contract.

NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency's operating costs are funded. [224720]

Mr. Hutton: The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency is an executive agency of the Department and receives its funding from the Department.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether hospital trusts are required to use the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency to source any of their supplies. [224721]

Mr. Hutton: The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency assists around 400 national health service trusts and health bodies with their purchasing and manages some 3000 national purchasing contracts, which are available to NHS bodies. Use of these contracts by local bodies is voluntary but extensive because of the savings they provide.

NHS Staff

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many qualified (a) nurses, (b) midwives and
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(c) health visitors have (i) entered and (ii) completed return to practice schemes in the NHS in England since March 2004. [224842]

Mr. Hutton: The Department no longer collects this information.

NHS Telephone Services

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will ban premium rate charges for (a) incoming calls made to and (b) outgoing calls made from bedside phones in NHS hospitals; and if he will make a statement. [223778]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 24 March 2005]: Bedside television (TV) and telephone services are now available in most major acute hospitals and provide an additional service to patients, relatives and friends to enable them to remain in direct contact when people are in hospital. It is still possible for friends and relatives to contact a hospital through its main switchboard and then be transferred to a nurse station to enquire about their relatives' health.

Charges for the use of services through bedside telephones are agreed between the national health service trust and the company supplying the service. The trust does not make any profit from these services.

Contracts are entered into by individual trusts who will set out an agreed schedule of charges, including the cost of incoming charges to patients.

Three suppliers, covering 69,000 beds, include a message notifying callers at the outset of the call what the charge will be. The fourth, which provides a service to the remaining 6,000 beds, will shortly be including a similar message at all their sites. In addition, the Patient Power suppliers set out the charges for all their services in leaflets, which are made widely available. A higher incoming call rate helps subsidise concessionary rates provided by the suppliers, which include free TV for children and discounted rates for long stay patients.

NHS Estates commissioned British Market Research Bureau to carry out a survey to conduct research into patient and staff satisfaction with the bedside communication and entertainment systems where 88 per cent. of patients said that they were satisfied with the services, 95 per cent. of patients chose to pay for services offered and patients said the most important reason for using the system was to make phone calls without having to ask a member of staff for help or go to a public pay phone.

The patient bedside entertainment system provides a vital direct link with family and friends for NHS patients. The results of the recent survey confirm that the service is useful in improving the patients' stay in hospital.

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