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27 Jun 2005 : Column 1337W—continued

Short Money

Mr. Drew: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what accountability mechanisms there are to scrutinise the spending of Short" money. [6340]

Mr. Hoon: I have been asked to reply.

Short money is governed by the Resolution of the House of Commons of 26 May 1999.

Each opposition party which receives Short money is required to submit a certificate from an independent professional auditor within nine months of the year end confirming that all the expenses for which the party received financial assistance under the terms of the Resolution were incurred exclusively in connection with the party's parliamentary business.

If the certificate is not received within the time specified no further financial assistance is paid until such a certificate is so furnished.

Guidance for completion of the certificate is provided by the House administration and the form of the certificate has been agreed with the National Audit Office.



Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will propose the setting up of a joint committee of both Houses to consider the scientific, medical and social changes in relation to abortion as recommended by the Science and Technology Committee in its March Report on Human Reproductive Technologies and the Law. [5795]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 6 June 2005, Official Report, column 413W.

Alliance Medical Ltd.

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the contracts awarded to Alliance Medical to provide services for the NHS. [2233]

Mr. Byrne: The Department entered into a single contract with Alliance Medical Limited (AML) to provide magnetic resonance imaging screening to the national health service through state of the art mobile units. Details of any other contracts with AML agreed by local NHS commissioners are not collected centrally.


Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance her Department has issued to health service trusts on the operational life of ambulances. [6075]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 20 June 2005]: The Department has not issued guidance on the operational life of ambulances, as it is a matter for each trust.
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Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people have suffered from cancer-treatment induced anaemia in England over the last three years; [6714]

(2) how many cancer patients in England are receiving erythropoietin; [6715]

(3) how many cancer centres prescribe erythropoietin; [6717]

(4) if she will meet leading clinicians to discuss the use of erythropoietin in the NHS; and if she will make a statement. [6719]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department does not collect information on the number of cancer patients with cancer treatment induced anaemia; the number of cancer patients who receive erythropoietin or the number of cancer centres prescribing erythropoietin.

Erythropoietin (alpha and beta) and darbopoetin for the treatment of cancer treatment induced anaemia have been referred to National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for appraisal. Guidance is expected to be published at the end of this year. It would be better to wait until that guidance is available before considering setting up a meeting.

Anti-arthritis drugs

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to ensure that health care services in Shropshire receive the funding required to ensure equality of access to anti-arthritis drugs on a geographical basis. [6043]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Funding is allocated to primary care trusts (PCTs) on the basis of the relative needs of their populations. A weighted capitation formula is used to determine each PCT's target share of available resources to enable them to commission similar levels of health services for populations in similar need. The components of the formula are used to weight each PCT's crude" population according to their relative need (age, and additional need) for healthcare and the unavoidable geographical differences in the cost of providing healthcare (market forces factor).

It is for PCTs to determine how to use the funding allocated to them to commission services to meet the healthcare needs of their local populations.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prescriptions there have been for anti-depressants in England in each year since 1991, broken down by type, including fluoxetine. [4434]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information on the number of prescription items of anti-depressants that have been dispensed in the community in England in each year since 1991 has been placed in the Library.

Audiology Services

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people in England are waiting (a) to be assessed for and (b) fitted with an NHS hearing aid for the first time; [6461]
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(2) how many people in England are using NHS analogue hearing aids; and what information she has collated on the numbers who would benefit from switching to digital hearing aids. [6470]

Mr. Byrne: This information is not held centrally.

Back and Joint Problems (Nurses)

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make it her policy to collect centrally information relating to the number and percentage of nurses in each primary care trust area in each year who (a) report personal back and joint injuries and (b) retire as a result of back or joint problems. [6028]

Mr. Byrne: The Government are committed to reducing the burden of information requirements on the national health service. Information is collected centrally to support key policies and monitor national targets as set out in the NHS Plan and subsequent documents. It is for local NHS trusts to monitor the ill health of their staff.

Bedside Bibles

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what reports she has received of complaints to hospitals about Bibles in wards. [4002]

Jane Kennedy: The Department does not collect any central information regarding reports about complaints to hospitals about Bibles in wards.

Cancer Services/Treatment

Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to improve the pre-diagnostic infrastructure for breast cancer. [5669]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 21 June 2005]: People who live in deprived areas are less likely to attend for screening for breast cancer. Including cultural and religious reasons, women from minority ethnic groups are less likely to accept invitations for screening than the general population as a whole. Language and access to information can be a significant barrier and can affect the coverage levels.

A number of steps have been taken to improve this situation:

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Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to improve participation in breast screening programmes. [5670]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 21 December 2005]: To raise awareness about the availability of breast cancer screening, in 2004 the National Health Service cancer screening programmes issued a regional communications pack to all local breast screening programmes to increase coverage rates. The packs include advice on raising the awareness of screening, including posters.

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress the Government have made in reducing the difference in breast cancer survival rates between women in the most affluent areas and those in the most deprived areas. [7430]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We are committed to reducing inequality of outcomes in all cancers. We have a commitment to reduce death rates from cancer in under-75s by at least 20 per cent. by 2010, with a reduction in the inequalities gap of at least 6 per cent. between the fifth of areas with the worst health and deprivation indicators, the spearhead primary care trusts (PCTs), and the population as a whole.

Statistics for women diagnosed between 1996 to 1999 showed that five year survival rates for women with breast cancer in the most affluent areas were 5.8 per cent. higher than those in the most deprived areas.

It is not clear precisely why survival rates vary. However, women in more deprived areas are more likely to have advanced breast cancer at the point of diagnosis. Work is under development to encourage people, especially in less affluent areas, to seek help from their general practitioner earlier. We will be piloting programmes in some spearhead PCTs, looking at knowledge and attitudes towards cancer, as well as working with the voluntary sector to learn from previous awareness-raising campaigns.

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what date the Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority received ministerial authority to start the Specialist Cancer Services Review. [6686]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 23 June 2005]: In line with the Department's Shifting the Balance of Power initiative, the Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority is not required to seek ministerial approval prior to undertaking a service review.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the role of the Sussex cancer network in relation to cancer treatment waiting times. [5970]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 22 June 2005]: Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority, the local headquarters of the national health service, advises that primary care trusts (PCTs) in Sussex continue to work with relevant acute trusts to reduce waiting times for East Sussex residents. The Sussex cancer network works closely with the PCTs and acute trusts within Surrey and Sussex to ensure the delivery of high quality cancer services and reduced waiting times. The Sussex cancer
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network also works with Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which provides cancer treatment to some East Sussex residents.

I understand that the strategic direction for the Sussex cancer network is laid out within its strategic plan. The strategic plan was agreed by all stakeholders of the network, including patients and carers. The strategic plan and further information on the work of the network is available on its website at

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