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16 Jun 2005 : Column 644W—continued

Hospital-acquired Infections

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) at what intervals hospital trusts are required to provide her Department with details of cases of clostridium difficile; [5038]

(2) whether hospital trusts are required to report cases of clostridium difficile to the strategic health authority. [5039]

Jane Kennedy: As part of the mandatory surveillance scheme, hospital trusts are required to provide the Health Protection Agency with information on Clostridium difficile" quarterly. They are not required to routinely report cases to the strategic health authority.

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of supermarket kits designed to counter hospital-based infections. [3891]

Jane Kennedy: Healthcare workers should be trained in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and in the performance of clinical procedures to keep down the risk of infection. Consequently, these kits are unnecessary and patients do not need to take their own PPE into hospital.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she will publish the data collected under the mandatory surveillance scheme for (a) clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea, (b) glycopoptide resistant enterocci and (c) orthopaedic surgical site infection; and whether this data will be published for intervals of six months. [3363]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 13 June 2005, Official Report, columns 104–05W.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the incidence of MRSA at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals. [3272]

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Jane Kennedy: There were 60 meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteraemia reports for Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals National Health Service Trust for the period April 2004 to September 2004. The MRSA rate per 1000 bed-days were 0.35.

London Ambulance Service

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the arrangements will be for patient involvement in the London Ambulance Service after the existing patients forum is abolished. [3304]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The London Ambulance Service (LAS) national health service trust is fully committed to working with patients and their representatives and will continue to develop an effective relationship with them in order to improve further the quality of patient care delivered throughout London.

It is the Government's intention to focus patient forum activity at the primary care trust (PCT) level but with arrangements in place to ensure the whole patients' journey" is covered by forum activity. In the context of the London Ambulance Service NHS trust, it is envisaged that all London PCT forums would work together to ensure that ambulance services are monitored and reviewed effectively from the patient perspective. It will be for the forums themselves to decide how best to achieve a comprehensive and robust arrangement, but one approach might be for each PCT forum to nominate one of its number to form a pan-London specialist ambulance review panel. Such an arrangement would mean that there was strong input from across the city with a membership of 29, with each London locality having a real chance to input into the LAS at both strategic and operational levels.

Multiple Sclerosis

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if her Department will commission trials into the use of low-dose naltrexone for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. [3296]

Mr. Byrne: The main agency through which the Government support medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology.

The MRC does not normally allocate funds to particular topics. Research proposals in all areas compete for the funding available. When appropriate, high quality research in particular areas of strategic importance may be given priority in competition for funds, but research excellence and importance to health continues to be the primary considerations in funding decisions. The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for support into any aspect of human health and these are judged in open competition with other demands on funding.

National Service Framework for Older People

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the implementation of the National Service Framework for Older People milestone for (a) annual medicine reviews for all
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peopleover 75 years and (b) six-monthly medicine reviews for people over 75 years taking four or more medicines; [2917]

(2) what estimate she has made of the proportion of the population aged over 75 years being treated with four or more prescribed medicines at one time in the last period for which figures are available. [2918]

Mr. Byrne: The Department does not collect centrally the data requested.

Strategic health authorities, as part of their performance management role, must ensure that primary care trusts within their areas are providing quality services to their patients. This includes delivering the milestones in national service frameworks.

The national medicines management collaborative use medication reviews as measures for assessing improvements in patient care. They have monitored medication reviews for older people undertaken through general practitioner surgeries and also within care homes. Historic data for both measures, collected from the 146 PCTs taking part in the programme, suggest that there have been significant and sustained improvements in the number and quality of medication reviews.

National Service Standards

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on national standards for (a) prosthetic, (b) orthotic and (c) wheelchair services. [3070]

Jane Kennedy: These services are provided on a basis of clinical need and managed by the primary care trusts.

NHS Business Services Authority

Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) overall budget and (b) budget for each constituent body is for the NHS Business Services Authority; whether there will be any reduction in staff numbers from the Dental Practice Board following the merger into the NHS Business Services Authority; and what estimate her Department has made of the transfer costs of the merger. [3281]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 13 June 2005]: The NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) will constitute the Dental Practice Board, the Prescription Pricing Authority and the NHS Pensions Agency. It has yet to be finalised if the Counter Fraud and Security Management Services (CFSMS) will form part of the BSA.

It is anticipated that the BSA will commence operations on 1 April 2006. The Chairman and Chief Executive have yet to be appointed and until they are in place, detailed business plans cannot be agreed.

The baseline budget for the BSA in 2006–07 is £120.7 million, which is based on the collective budgets for the BSA old component parts. In accordance with the review of Arm's Length Bodies announced in 2004, the BSA will be expected to make a saving of £25 million on this figure in its second year. Budgets will not be set for the BSA's old constituent parts.
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Over time, the BSA expects to reduce the total number of posts by 25 per cent., compared to today. Where these posts will be reduced has not yet been determined as the business strategies are being formulated.

The transfer costs of the merger will depend largely on the extent to which the BSA is restructured. Options are still under evaluation and it is therefore not possible to calculate likely transfer costs.

NHS Fraud

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many responses to the Department's consultation on access to relevant documents, records and data to counter NHS fraud raised concerns that the pre-consultation process would impact adversely on patient confidentiality; how many responses there were in total; and if she will make a statement. [3436]

Jane Kennedy: Maintaining patient confidentiality is vitally important and the consultation sought views on the proposed safeguards that should be in place to ensure confidentiality is protected. Consequently, a number of responses commented on the importance of the proposed safeguards. These include a new criminal offence in the unlikely event that information obtained through these powers is wrongly disclosed. However, of the 47 responses only 11 responses specifically addressed the issue of patient confidentiality regardless of any proposed safeguards. The 47 responses showed overwhelming support for the proposed measures.

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