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Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance her Department offers to NHS trusts on the disposal of assets provided by charitable and voluntary organisations and individuals in community hospital wards that are closed. 
Mr. Byrne: Donated assets are the property of the national health service trust concerned. Trusts are free to deal with them as they wish, subject only to any legal covenants or restrictions placed upon them at the time of donation.
Guidance on the disposal of all surplus national health service property assets is contained in the Department's Estatecode, a copy of which is available in the Library. Guidance on the accounting treatment for the disposal of assets is contained in the NHS capital accounting manual, which is publicly available on the Department's website at: www.info.doh.gov.uk/doh/finman.nsf/ManualDownload.
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The collection of the total expenditure by national health service organisations started in 2000. The figures provided include pay and non-pay costs, for example, the cost of in-house and contract staff, materials, equipment provision and uniform costs. The data has been provided directly by the NHS organisations, which are responsible for its completeness and accuracy.
|Total expenditure on cleaning services|
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on meeting the target to reduce the number of incidences of (a) violence against and (b) sickness absence of staff in the NHS by 30 per cent. by the end of 200304. 
Jane Kennedy: In April 2003f the national health service security management service (NHS SMS) was created and assumed policy and operational responsibility for the management of security in the NHS, including work to tackle violence against NHS staff. In November 2003, the NHS SMS introduced a comprehensive range of measures to tackle incidences of violence against NHS staff, both proactively and reactively. The NHS SMS has begun a programme of work to identify the true nature, scale and extent of the problem. Once this work is completed, meaningful and achievable targets for delivering a secure environment for NHS staff will be set.
The Department's fifteenth annual report was published on 21 June 2005. This report includes details of progress in reducing the levels of absence due to sickness. The report is available in the Library and on the Department's website at www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/Publications/AnnualReports.
Figures for sickness absence are generally published for whole sectors. Figures for the NHS compare favourably with other public sector employers. Overall, the sickness absence figures for the NHS have changed little over the past five years. The Department's survey of sickness rates over the last four years show a steady state, with 4.7 per cent, in 2000 and 4.6 per cent, in 2004.
The Improving Working Lives" initiative is now well embedded in the NHS. This promotes more flexible working, helps staff manage a healthy balance between work and commitments outside work, and requires NHS employers to tackle issues such as safety, health and well being.
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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information her Department (a) collects and (b) publishes concerning the operation of (i) directly managed NHS treatment centres and (ii) independent treatment centres. 
Mr. Byrne: The Department regularly collects activity figures based on the number of first finished consultant episodes (FFCEs) carried out at national health service treatment centres. This information is published as part of the overall figures for the NHS.
In February 2004, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published a clinical guideline for the national health service on the assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems. Part 1.15 of the guideline, covering applications of cryopreservation in cancer treatment, says:
Women preparing for medical treatment that is likely to make them infertile should be offered oocyte or embryo cryostorage as appropriate if they are well enough to undergo ovarian stimulation and egg collection, provided that this will not worsen their condition and provided that sufficient time is available. They should be informed that oocyte cryostorage has very limited success and that the cryopreservation of ovarian tissue is still in an early stage of development."
A recent report from the United States of America mentioned a patient who apparently has had a successful ovarian transplantation involving her sister as a donor. We note that the British Fertility Society regards this procedure as an interesting development that must be
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viewed as experiment, probably applicable only to an exceptionally small number of patients, and which raises ethical issues about the impact on the donor.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the Nursing and Midwifery Council will require nurses from outside the European Economic Area whose first language is English to pass the International English Language Test; what assessment she has made of the potential impact of the Overseas Training Programme on the recruitment of nurses from overseas; and if she will make a statement on the impact of the Overseas Nurses Programme on the resources of the NHS. 
Mr. Byrne: Article 13(l) (c) (iii) of the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 gives the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) powers to ensure that individuals satisfy the prescribed requirements as to knowledge of English. Requiring all applicants from outside the European Economic Area to undertake the International English Language Test avoids discrimination on the basis of potentially misleading assumptions about country of origin and culture. It also provides a better safeguard than relying on the application form alone.
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government recognise the importance of providing effective and efficient palliative and specialist palliative care services. We are supporting the development of services through a number of initiatives, including:
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