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8 Nov 2005 : Column 385W—continued

Parliamentary Constituencies

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what new parliamentary constituencies the Government expect to be in operation following the reviews made by the Boundary Commission for England. [25587]

Ms Harman: The final report of the Boundary Commission in relation to parliamentary constituencies in England has yet to be published. The Boundary Commission for England is an independent body and the Government cannot comment on any potential final recommendations at this stage.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when the Government expect to lay the draft order implementing the recommendations of the Boundary Commission for England in relation to changes to parliamentary boundaries. [25588]

Ms Harman: The final report of the Boundary Commission in relation to parliamentary constituencies in England has yet to be published. The report and draft order will be laid before Parliament as soon as practicable after they have been submitted to the Secretary of State.

Skills for Life Strategy

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which individual is responsible for developing and implementing her Department's Skills for Life strategy. [23854]

Bridget Prentice: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton) on 2 November 2005, Official Report, column 1074W.
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Nursing Degrees (Placements)

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures she is taking to ensure that satisfactory placements are available to students studying for degrees in nursing. [22051]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 27 October 2005]: This is a matter for higher education institutions in discussion with the national health service. Strategic health authorities continue to work with the NHS and higher education partners to ensure that there are high quality placements for the number of nursing students in training. The provision and quality of clinical placements are also important elements of the new national contract for commissioning nurse training.

Ambulance Service Trusts (West Midlands)

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent on (a) administration and (b) management costs by each NHS ambulance service trust in the West Midlands area, expressed (i) as a percentage of their total budgets and (ii) as the cost per head of population in the areas they cover, in the latest year for which figures are available. [22625]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested for 2004–05, the latest available year, is shown in the following table.
Administration and management costs by national health service ambulance trust in the West Midlands, 2004–05

NHS/ambulance trust nameManagement costs £ thousandManagement costs as a percentage of turnover
Coventry and Warwickshire Ambulance NHS Trust1,0514.6
Hereford and Worcester Ambulance NHS Trust1,0906.6
Staffordshire Ambulance Service Trust1,7577.0
West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust3,4105.7

1. Administration costs are not identified separately so all information given relates to management costs only.
2. It is not possible to provide 'cost per head of population' for NHS ambulance trusts as the Department does not maintain trust population figures.
3. 'Total budget' has been interpreted as total income (turnover) for NHS ambulance trusts.
4. 'West Midlands area' has been interpreted as the area covered by the Shropshire and Staffordshire, Birmingham and Black Country and West Midlands South strategic health authorities.
Audited summarisation schedules of the named trusts.

Avian Influenza

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to support research into (a) a vaccine for the H5N1 strain of avian flu, (b) drugs to treat a potential influenza pandemic and (c) enhanced diagnostic techniques to identify and research new infections; and if she will make a statement. [20029]

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Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 20 October 2005]: The Department is currently finalising a strategy that will ensure that its vaccine, anti-viral and diagnosis related research activities are in line with those of other research funders in the United Kingdom, in Europe and in North America. To that end, the Medical Research Council will hold a workshop in December to identify particular strategic research needs for pandemic influenza. When this consultation process is complete, we will be in a position to commission high quality research that is both applicable to the needs of the UK and coordinated with the efforts of other countries.

The strategy will build on the body of Government funded research completed in the recent past and currently underway. This includes, for example, a £400,000 study commissioned by the Department into the optimum dose and dosing schedule for influenza vaccine when given to people for the first time.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the likelihood of the strain of avian influenza found in Turkey mutating to a human virus. [21595]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We seek advice on threat assessments of avian influenza from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The strain of avian influenza in Turkey is very similar to that currently circulating in South East Asia. The WHO advised in May that the viruses are continuing to evolve and pose a continuing and potentially growing pandemic threat. It is monitoring the situation but has not raised the alert level.

Experts are concerned that the H5N1 virus has demonstrated the ability to jump the species barrier to cause disease and death in humans, but there is no confirmed evidence of person to person transmission of this virus. Thus, the risk of a human pandemic of H5N1 is considered to be low.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the UK plans to provide assistance to countries that may be affected by avian influenza variants at an earlier stage than the UK, including by providing supplies of vaccines. [21774]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The United Kingdom is working with international partners, including the European Union and the World Health Organisation (WHO), to enhance global preparedness for an influenza pandemic. We have already contributed £500,000 to the WHO to improve surveillance in South East Asia.

The WHO is securing three million courses of antiviral drugs as part of the immediate response to a pandemic. These drugs may help to contain an emerging pandemic virus or slow its spread.

Any requests for UK contributions to expand the WHO stockpile, or for vaccine when it becomes available, will be considered on a case by case basis.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her statement of 17 October 2005, Official Report, column 629, on Avian influenza, what total
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funding has been provided to test NHS plans for an influenza pandemic locally; where this funding has been allocated; and what further spending she anticipates to ensure NHS bodies contingency plans will be effective in the event of an influenza pandemic. [22654]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The development and testing of local plans to deal with an influenza pandemic, takes place within the existing resources available to national health service bodies.

Blood Donation (Leeds)

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will allocate further resources to encourage people in Leeds, North-West to give blood. [24000]

Mr. Byrne: NHS Blood and Transplant Authority (NHSBT) is responsible for managing blood supplies in England and North Wales. NHSBT blood stocks are currently satisfactory and are meeting demands from hospitals. In fact, every hospital demand in the last six years has been met.

NHSBT plans the resources required to meet demand for blood in advance, and continually reviews and redistributes stock across the country, as necessary. At present no additional resources are required to maintain adequate blood stocks. Maintaining blood stocks and raising awareness among blood donors, is carried out through a range of marketing and communication techniques.

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