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27 Jun 2005 : Column 1384W—continued

Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to publish the updated version of the regulatory impact assessment of the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive. [4909]

Jane Kennedy: The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency published an updated partial regulatory impact assessment on 16 June. The assessment forms part of the public consultation (MLX 325) on the implementation of the Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products (Directive 2004/24/EC).

Trans Fats

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on trans fats; [5850]

(2) what measures are being taken to advise the public on consumption of trans fats. [5851]

Caroline Flint: The Government are concerned about the possible health effects, in particular on coronary health, from consuming certain fats. As part of delivering commitments in the Choosing Health White Paper of last November, the Government are developing a strategy with stakeholders for tackling intakes of certain fats. There are currently no plans to commission research on the health effects of consuming trans fats as it is known that at high levels, like saturated fats, they raise the type of cholesterol in the blood that increases the risk of coronary heart disease.

The Food Standards Agency has provided information and advice, on its Eatwell website, to consumers about the role of fat in the diet and the possible health effects from consuming high levels of trans fats.
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Treatment Overseas (E111 Form)

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate her Department has made of (a) the number of E111 forms held by British citizens before August 2004 and (b) the proportion of these covering more than one person; and if she will make a statement. [2356]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Prior to August 2004, issues of form E111 amounted to approximately 3.5 million per annum. However, since long-standing practice had been to issue E111s without a specified end date, it is not possible to say how many valid E111s were held by the public. No information was collected on the proportion of forms issued on a per family basis and thus covering more than one person.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate her Department has made of the number of British citizens who travelled without a valid E111 form in the last year for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. [2358]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Experience has shown that only a small number of United Kingdom residents travelling to other European Union countries who need treatment do not have valid E111s with them. UK residents not in possession of E111 when treatment is required abroad may apply to the Department of Work and Pensions for one to be sent to them abroad. 12,400 such E111s were issued in 2004–05.

Union Flag

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons her Department did not fly the Union flag from its headquarters for the Queen's Official Birthday. [5408]

Jane Kennedy: I can confirm that the Union flag was flown on Saturday 11 June, as notified by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Consultant Vacancies (Accident and Emergency)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which hospitals in Lancashire have vacancies for accident and emergency consultants. [6308]

Mr. Byrne: The most recent centrally held information on vacancy rates indicated that in March 2004 there were two vacancies at Morecambe Bay Hospitals National Health Service Trust, which had lasted for three months or more. The trust concerned has been actively trying to fill these posts.

Waiting Lists/Times

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the target waiting times are for orthopaedic surgery at Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic hospital, Gobowen, Shropshire for patients resident in (a) England and (b) Wales. [5436]

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Mr. Byrne: Patients registered with a general practitioner in England and patients resident in England who are unregistered or who are registered with a GP in Wales should be treated within the standard maximum waiting time for England. The current maximum standard for all in-patient and day case treatment is nine months. The target maximum waiting time by the end of December 2005 is six months.

Waiting times for patients resident in Wales, unless they are registered with a GP in England, are a matter for the National Assembly for Wales.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make a statement on cancer treatment waiting times at the Maidstone Oncology Centre in Kent; [5967]

(2) what plans she has to decrease the number of days patients at Maidstone Oncology Centre wait for cancer treatment; [5968]

(3) if she will take steps to reduce cancer treatment waiting times for hospitals in East Sussex and Kent; [5969]

(4) how many weeks on average patients at Maidstone Oncology Centre have waited for post-operative cancer treatment since 1997. [5971]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 22 June 2005]: Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells National Health Service Trust, of which the Maidstone Oncology Centre is a part, provides cancer treatment not only to the residents of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells but also to residents in East Sussex. It met the national cancer waiting standards, as at the end of quarter four for 2004–05, as shown in the table.
StandardPercentage of standard achieved
Two weeks wait from general practitioner referral to outpatient appointment99.9
One month wait from diagnosis to treatment for breast cancer100
Two month wait from GP referral to treatment of breast cancer97.1

By the end of 2005, two further waiting times targets will be in place for cancers; a 31-day maximum wait from the date of the decision to treat to the start of treatment and a 62-day maximum wait from urgent GP referral for suspected cancer to the start of treatment.

Walk-in Treatment (Lancashire)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many walk-in treatment centres are planned in Lancashire; and in which districts. [6306]

Mr. Byrne: There are two existing national health service walk-in centres in Lancashire at Blackpool and Skelmersdale. Development of further NHS walk-in centres is a matter for local health communities. The Department has a capital budget for 2005–06 to support such investment and will be discussing with strategic health authorities shortly how best to deploy this money.