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15 Jun 2005 : Column 512W—continued

Genetic Testing

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures she is taking to reduce the time taken to undertake genetic testing. [3210]

Jane Kennedy: The 2003 genetics White Paper, Our inheritance, our future—realising the potential of genetics in the NHS", announced £18 million to upgrade national health service genetics laboratories in England. As a result of this increase in laboratory capacity, we expect that by 2006 genetic test results should be available:

This initiative builds on earlier investments by the Department, including £11 million in specialised genetics services from 2001 and two national genetic reference laboratories to explore the use of new technologies in NHS genetic laboratories. The genetics White Paper also announced that it would boost the future workforce in NHS genetic laboratories by funding up to 90 healthcare scientist trainees in genetics and 10 trainer posts.

Genito-urinary Medicine

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to publish the results of the two-year review of genito-urinary medicine services undertaken by the Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health. [3354]

Caroline Flint: The review is expected to be completed in 2006, at which time the Department will consider when and how to disseminate the findings.

GP Practices

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) single-handed and (b) two or more partner general practitioner practices there were in Burntwood, Lichfield and Tamworth Primary Care Trust area on the latest date for which figures are available; and what percentage these practices represent of the total number of general practitioner practices in the primary care trust area. [3322]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is shown in the table.
Number of practices by practice size for Burntwood, Lichfield and Tamworth Primary Care Trust (PCT)—as at 30 September 2004

5DQ Burntwood, Lichfield and Tamworth PCTNumber (headcount)
and percentages
of which:
Single handed practices(47)9
Practices with two or more partners15
Percentage of single handed practices38
Percentage of practices with two or more partners63

(47) Figures cannot be calculated prior to 2004 for single handed practitioners, excluding GP registrars and GP retainers.
National health service health and social care information centre general and personal medical services statistics.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of routine appointment waiting times at general practitioner surgeries in Hornsey and Wood Green; and if she will make a statement. [2887]

Jane Kennedy: The NHS Plan states that, by December 2004, all patients will be able to see a primary care professional (PCP) within 24 hours and a general practitioner within 48 hours.

The results for the Haringey Primary Care Trust May 2005 primary care access survey are:
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24 hour GP access100
48 hour PCP access100

Heart Hospital, London

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement about the recent closure of the Heart hospital, London. [3270]

Jane Kennedy: This is a matter for the chair of the University College London hospital national health service foundation trust. I have written to the chair, Peter Dixon. He will reply shortly and a copy will be placed in the Library.

Hepatitis C

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make it her policy to collate centrally information on the numbers of prisoners receiving treatment for hepatitis C. [3136]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There are no present plans to do so.


Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to establish regional centres of excellence for hepatology. [3134]

Mr. Byrne: The Department has drawn the attention of specialised commissioning groups to the need to plan on the basis of the national definition for specialised hepatology services. In that context they will need to consider that some activities will be restricted to the
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seven liver transplant centres while other treatments should only be carried out at hepatology centres where the full range of multi-disciplinary support is available. Some local hospitals have developed expertise in a particular treatment and could be recognised appropriately as a centre for that particular treatment.

Hospital Cleanliness

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received regarding the use of ward sisters in the pursuit of cleanliness on hospital wards; and from whom those representations have been received. [3146]

Jane Kennedy: The Department has received no formal representations on this issue. We recognise that ward sisters have a key role to play in ensuring that hospitals are clean. A Matron's Charter: An Action Plan for Cleaner Hospitals", published in 2004 by all of the organisations representing nursing staff, re-emphasises the importance of involving ward sisters in establishing cleaning contracts and setting and monitoring standards of cleanliness.

Hospitals (Learning Disabilities)

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what hospital facilities were available (a) in the last financial year and (b) in each of the previous five years to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities (i) across the NHS and (ii) in the private sector. [3525]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 14 June 2005]: The national health service and private sector provides a variety of hospital facilities for people with learning disabilities. The figures available for NHS facilities are shown in the following table.
Hospital inpatient activity: average daily number of available beds for learning disabled people; NHS trusts in England

Learning disabilities:1998–991999–20002000–012001–022002–032003–04
Children: short stay281205268229
Children: long stay957014159
Other ages: secure unit431407508514
Other ages: short stay1,3231,3741,1171,210
Other ages: long stay4,1863,6393,0033,199

KH03 return, Department of Health

With regard to private sector facilities, on 31 March 2004, the Healthcare Commission identified 46 private sector facilities registered as independent hospitals providing 968 beds for people with learning disabilities.


Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has commissioned on the health effects of energy-from-waste incinerators. [4160]

Caroline Flint: The Department has not commissioned specific research into the health effects of energy-from-waste incinerators. Several studies of cancer rates near the older generation of waste incinerators have been undertaken by the small area health statistics unit (SAHSU). The Department is a co-funder of SAHSU, which is wholly funded by the Government. The expert advisory committee on the carcinogenicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment considered these studies in March 20001, 2, 3 and concluded 4 that any potential risk of cancer due to residency near to municipal solid waste incinerators was exceedingly low and probably not measurable by the most modern epidemiological techniques. The Committee agreed that, at the present time, there was no need for any further epidemiological investigations of cancer incidence near municipal solid waste incinerators.

In addition to the studies of cancer, Government-funded investigations in the 1980s found no association with birth defects around two ReChem waste incinerators in Wales5, 6, 7 and Scotland8, 9, although no firm conclusion could be drawn in the Scottish study 9 about the occurrence of the eye defect microphthalmos.
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Emissions from modern waste incinerators in the United Kingdom are subject to stringent controls which have been introduced since the periods covered by the studies noted.

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