To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will investigate the Royal Free hospital's complaints handling arrangements; and if she will take steps (a) to remind the hospital authorities of the exemption of hon. Members from data protection rules
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concerning patient confidentiality and (b) to encourage them to deal with hon. Members' complaints more promptly. 
Jane Kennedy: While Members of Parliament are not prevented from accessing patient records by the Data Protection Act 1998, it is important to distinguish between this Act and the separate common law obligations of confidentiality under which patients records are held. Access to records held in confidence must be with the consent of the patient concerned. Right hon. and hon. Members should ensure that they have this consent prior to undertaking investigations on behalf of their constituents.
The Department has published a code of practice on confidentiality for the national health service that provides comprehensive guidance on the use and disclosure of patient health information. This states that:
Careful consideration of any written authorisation and prompt action are key, e.g. where an MP states, in writing, that she/he has a patient's consent this may be accepted without further resort to the patient."
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many new staff started employment in the Department during the year ending 31 March 2005 (a) 2001, (b) 2002, (c) 2003, (d) 2004 and (e) 2005; and if she will make a statement. 
The number of staff who joined the Department over the last five years is shown in the table. Many of these staff would have been on a fixed term contract, or on loan/secondment into the Department, therefore the number of staff who remain employed by the Department is also shown.
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|As at 1 February to 31 March:
|Total number of new staff in Department of Health
|No longer employed
|As at 1 February to
|Total number of new staff in Department of Health
|Still employed (percentage)
|As at 31 March:
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many insulin pumps have been prescribed to NHS patients since the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence Guidance was issued in February 2003. 
Diagnostic testing for HIV, and any associated counselling is free to all. However, subsequent treatment should the test prove positive is not and those people who are not ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, or otherwise exempt from charges, are expected to pay for any national health service hospital treatment provided. This has always been the case since the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations were introduced in 1989. We believe that the overseas visitors charging regime is about more than just the protection of NHS resources. Equally important is the protection of the principle that the NHS exists primarily for the benefit of those who are living legally in the UK, and not for those who are not. The Government have to balance public health responsibilities, and
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responsibilities to individual patients, with its wider responsibilities in terms of immigration and asylum policy. Such responsibilities cannot be assessed in purely monetary terms.
A number of voluntary bodies and other organisations with an interest in HIV/AIDS have written to Ministers on this matter in recent months. In addition, the Health Select Committee covered this issue in its report New Developments in Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Policy" published in March 2005, to which the Government responded in July 2005.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to update the HIV Testing Kits and Services Regulations 1992 to (a) legalise and (b) regulate home testing for HIV/AIDS; and what representations she has received on this subject. 
Caroline Flint: We have no current plans to update the HIV Testing Kits and Services Regulations 1992 and have received no representations on this subject. We keep policy on HIV testing under ongoing review.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to evaluate the costs and benefits to the NHS of exempting the continuing treatment of HIV/AIDS on the NHS from charges for those who are not otherwise entitled to treatment free of charge. 
Jane Kennedy: The national health service is first and foremost for people who live in the United Kingdom (UK). Anyone who is not ordinarily resident in the UK is subject to the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended, and will be liable to pay for any hospital treatment they receive, including HIV treatment, unless they meet the criteria for one of many exemption categories listed in the regulations. This has always been the case since these regulations were introduced in 1989.
We have no plans to carry out a specific cost/benefit analysis of this long-standing policy at this time. We believe that the overseas visitors charging regime is about more than just the protection of NHS resources. Equally important is the protection of the principle that the NHS exists primarily for the benefit of those who are living legally in the UK, and not for those who are not. The Government has to balance public health responsibilities, and responsibilities to individual patients, with its wider responsibilities in terms of immigration and asylum policy. Such responsibilities cannot be assessed in purely monetary terms.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made by the Office for National Statistics and the Health Protection Agency in the study of the proportion of deaths which may be associated with hospital acquired infections. 
The Health Protection Agency and the Office for National Statistics are undertaking this national study of deaths associated with healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs). The study will investigate a proportion of the deaths that occur, to identify potentially avoidable factors and lessons to be learned from them.
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This study consists of two main parts, a confidential study of deaths following HCAI and a separate quantitative analysis to estimate the proportion of patients with a defined HCAI who die within specified periods. A six-month pilot phase of the confidential qualitative study is underway and an interim report is expected next year. The main phase will be completed in the 18 months following and a report will be submitted to the Department and published at the end of the study. The quantitative study will be undertaken over the same period.