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National Society for Epilepsy

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what sums the Department has allocated to the National Society for Epilepsy in each of the last 10 years; and what the reasons for the payments were in each case. [4813]

Mr. Byrne: The Secretary of State has powers under Section 64 of the Health and Public Services Act 1968 to make grants to voluntary organisations in England whose activities support the Department's policy priorities. Funding allocated to the National Society for Epilepsy through the Section 64 General Scheme of Grants over the last 10 years is shown in the table.
Section 64 grants: National Society for Epilepsy

Type of grant/project
Section 64 project: Epilepsy information network90,00090,000
Section 64 project: living well programme37,400
Section 64 project: computer-aided learning for neurologists10,00010,000
Section 64 project7,29212,5005,208
Section 64 project23,00017,000

Full details of the grants beginning in 1996–97 are not available.

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Neonatal Care

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the nurse to patient ratio is at each neonatal unit in hospital trusts at (a) special care level, (b) high dependency care level and (c) intensive care level; [4468]

(2) how many neonatal units currently comply with British Association of Perinatal Medicine recommended minimum nursing requirements. [4470]

Mr. Byrne: Information on the ratio of nurses to infants within units is not collected centrally, and it is for the units themselves to decide their own nursing requirements. The ratio is not constant, but relative to the dependency levels of the infants. This varies according to demand both within and between units providing a range of special, high dependency and intensive care.

NHS Direct

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the level of user satisfaction with NHS Direct is. [3571]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 13 June 2005]: I understand from the Chairman of the NHS Direct Special Health Authority that patient satisfaction survey data for March 2005 indicated that 98 per cent. were very satisfied or satisfied with the services provided by NHS Direct.


Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research her Department has carried out to assess the level of risk of back and joint problems in the nursing profession in comparison with that in the general population. [4717]

Mr. Byrne: The Department has not carried out an assessment of the level of risk of back and joint problems within any national health service staff group in comparison with that in the general population.

The Health and Safety Executive have stated that one third of reported injuries that result in three or more days off work are caused by manual handling accidents, and that manual handling accidents and back pain account for approximately 40 per cent. of all NHS sickness absence.

Older People

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether all local authorities in England are using the single assessment process for assessing older people's needs, as outlined in the National Service Framework for Older People. [2284]

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Mr. Byrne: This information is not collected centrally. The responsibility for introducing a single assessment process rests with local health and social care service planners, commissioners and providers. However, available evidence suggests that most, if not all, local authorities' social services departments have a single assessment process in place.

PCTs (Resource Allocations)

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the forward population projections for (a) each strategic health authority and (b) each local authority in England were used to inform the resource allocations of primary care trusts for 2006–07 and 2007–08; and if she will estimate the current population of each (i) primary care trust and (ii) strategic health authority area. [3432]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested has been placed in the Library.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment she has made of the potential health impacts arising from the presence of phthalates in consumer goods. [5885]

Caroline Flint: Phthalates are a family of chemical substances, with a range of properties. Extensive research into the effects of certain phthalates on human health has been carried out at a European level, under the auspices of the European Union's Existing Substances Regulation (793/93/EC). Details of this programme can be found on the European Chemicals Bureau website at: The United Kingdom has commented on the detailed risk assessments and ensuing risk reduction strategy for the various phthalates that have been studied.

The Government take the view that phthalates must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Where the EU database is insufficient to complete a risk assessment, it is normally expected that the industry will carry out the required additional research. The detailed EU risk assessments have indicated that some phthalate compounds have been shown in animal studies to produce toxic effects on the reproductive system. Therefore, the Government have asked its expert committee, the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, to keep the area of environmental chemicals and reproductive health under review and will consider its advice on the need for additional research in this area.

Pressure Sores

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what targets she has set for the reduction of numbers of pressure sores in hospitals; [5543]

(2) what estimate she has made of (a) the cost to the NHS of treating pressure sores and (b) the number of patients with pressure sores in each of the last three years. [5544]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 20 June 2005]: Reducing the incidence of pressure sores in hospitals is tackled locally through clinical governance; a programme of
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continuous improvement in clinical care. The toolkit, "Essence of Care—patient focused benchmarks for clinical governance", includes a chapter specific to pressure ulcers.

This is underpinned by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines that also focus on screening and assessment, informing patients and their carers, the development and implementation of an individualised plan for prevention and treatment to be agreed and delivered by a multidisciplinary team working with patients and their carers.

It is not possible to separately identify the costs—in hospitals and all other settings where the national health service cares for patients—of treating pressure sores.

The number of patients who were diagnosed, in NHS hospitals, with pressure sore in the years between 2001–02 and 2003–04 are shown in the table.

These are NHS hospital in-patients episodes with the specified diagnosis code, not the number of persons diagnosed. It is not possible to identify from these data whether a pressure sore was acquired while the patient was in hospital, or whether it was acquired elsewhere and subsequently diagnosed in a hospital.

Psoriasis/Psoriatic Arthritis

Mr. Bruce George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the proportion of the population that suffers from psoriasis. [5985]

Mr. Byrne: We have made no estimate of the proportion of the population with psoriasis. However, the Psoriasis Association estimate that around 2 per cent. of the United Kingdom population suffer from this condition.

Mr. Bruce George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to improve the delivery of treatment services to those suffering from psoriatic arthritis. [5982]

Mr. Byrne: It is our intention to publish best practice guidance on musculoskeletal conditions, which includes psoriatic arthritis, later this year. In addition, the Government have already published the national service framework for people with long-term conditions.

Mr. Bruce George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what priority is given to psoriatic arthritis in allotting health service resources. [5984]

Mr. Byrne: Responsibility for allocating national health service resources rests with primary care trusts, in
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partnership with strategic health authorities and other key stakeholders, as they are best placed to understand and respond to the needs of their local populations.

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