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5 Jul 2005 : Column 350W—continued

Hepatitis C

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the level of access to specialist assessment and treatment for people with hepatitis C infection. [7817]

Caroline Flint: In line with Shifting the Balance of Power", decisions about the provision of accessible specialist assessment and treatment for people with hepatitis C infection through managed clinical networks, are for local determination. We understand that managed clinical networks have so far either been established or are being considered in London, South West peninsula, East Anglia, West Midlands, Trent, Liverpool and North East England.

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in developing modelling techniques to assist in projecting numbers of patients needing specialist treatment and care for hepatitis C since the Action Plan for Hepatitis C was published. [7818]

Caroline Flint: The Department has funded the Health Protection Agency, working with the Medical Research Council's biostatistics unit, to provide estimates of the future burden of hepatitis C-related liver disease.

Results from this ongoing study will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication later this year.

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what projections have been made for the incidence of hepatitis C in England. [7819]

Caroline Flint: Studies suggest that 0.5 per cent. of the general population in England, 250,000 people, has been infected with hepatitis C. As around 80 per cent. of people who have been exposed to the virus go on to develop chronic infection, it is estimated that 0.4 per cent. of the population, 200,000 people, are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus.

There is no data available on the number of newly acquired hepatitis C infections in the general population (incidence). This is because acute hepatitis C infection does not usually cause symptoms and there are no laboratory tests that detect newly acquired hepatitis C infections.

Hospital Workers (Drug Dependency)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has evaluated on drug dependency in hospital workers. [6211]

Mr. Byrne: The Department's guidance, Taking alcohol and other drugs out of the NHS workplace", was re-issued this year as part of the Management of Health, Safety and Welfare Issues for NHS Staff" by NHS Employers, which provides support to employers. This guidance reflects good practice.

Hospital-acquired Infections

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of (a) methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus, (b) vancomycin-intermediate Staphyloccus aureus, (c) Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea, (d) vancomycin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus and (e) glycopeptide-resistant enterococci have been recorded in each hospital in England in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [7765]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 30 June 2005]: Information on meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections is available in the Library and on the Department's website at

This data has been collected since April 2001; the latest data covers the period to the end of March 2005.
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The Health Protection Agency (HPA) antimicrobial resistance monitoring and reference laboratory is aware of only one confirmed case of vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus in England to date.

Only three cases of vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) have been seen worldwide; none in England.

Since 1 January 2004, all acute national health service trusts have been required to report all cases of diarrhoea associated with Clostridium difficile. The data for 2004 is being prepared for publication and will subsequently be published annually. The HPA also runs a voluntary reporting system, but does not provide data by trust or by hospital.

Since 1 October 2003, all acute NHS trusts have been required to report all blood stream infections caused by glycopeptide-resistant enterococci. The data is being prepared for publication and will subsequently be published annually.

In-flight Meals

John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations she has received on the impact on the health of passengers of the salt and fat content of in-flight meals; [6804]

(2) if she will undertake a survey of the nutritional content of in-flight meals; [6805]

(3) what advice she gives to airline passengers on the salt content of in-flight meals. [6806]

Caroline Flint: The Food Standards Agency, in consultation with the Department and stakeholders, is in the process of setting target levels for salt in key product categories that contribute most to intakes. It is anticipated that all sectors of the food industry, including caterers, will work to meet these targets. We will ensure that suppliers of meals to airline passengers are included in this initiative and that airline companies are aware.

All adult consumers are advised to eat a balanced diet, but specific advice has not been issued to airline passengers about the salt content of in-flight meals.

I have not received any representations on the impact of in-flight meals on the health of passengers and have no plans to undertake a survey of such meals.

Influenza Pandemic

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what prioritisation system the Health Protection Agency has put in place for vaccinations in the event of an influenza pandemic. [8893]

Caroline Flint: The Government will make the decision for vaccination prioritisation based on advice from the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), an independent expert advisory committee, and the United Kingdom national influenza pandemic committee. The JCVI has provisionally advised the following order for vaccinating people:

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This list is contained in the UK pandemic influenza contingency plan.

IVF Treatment

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many primary care trusts have fully implemented the recommendation that all eligible patients should receive one NHS-funded IVF treatment; [7651]

(2) what assessment she has made of the impact of the decision to allow each eligible patient one NHS-funded IVF treatment on the number of IVF procedures carried out by the NHS; [7652]

(3) how many NHS-funded IVF treatments have been carried out in each strategic health authority area in each of the last eight years. [7653]

Caroline Flint: The Department does not collect information centrally on the number of national health service-funded invitro fertilization (IVF) treatments carried out. A survey of primary care trusts carried out by All Party Group on Infertility and the National Infertility Awareness Campaign has shown that the majority have worked to provide of at least one cycle of IVF for those who are eligible according to the guideline published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Kidney Transplants

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will provide ringfenced funding for kidney transplants; and if she will make a statement. [7648]

Mr. Byrne: Primary care trusts are responsible for renal transplant commissioning through specialised commissioning arrangements. They are best placed to determine local needs and priorities and to ensure that they have the staff and facilities required to deliver high quality care. Ring-fenced funding is not appropriate.

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