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Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what services provided by the Leeds Hospitals Teaching Trust will be transferred to the proposed surgical independent sector treatment centre serving Leeds patients; 
(2) what maximum income of the proposed surgical independent sector treatment centre serving Leeds patients will be underwritten over the first five years of its existence; 
(3) when she expects the proposed surgical independent sector treatment centre serving Leeds patients to come into operation. 
Mr. Byrne: Existing local health services have not been transferred to Eccleshill Treatment Centre. The services offered are additional and patients have a choice about where they attend.
The issues raised are subject to the outcome of the on-going procurement process.
Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to increase the salaries of healthcare assistants. 
Many healthcare assistants are benefiting from assimilation to the new Agenda for Change National Health Service pay system under which their pay is based on the knowledge, responsibility, skills and effort required for their job, rather than their historic job title or occupational group. In addition, the department has provided evidence to the Nurses and Other Health Professions Review Body asking them to recommend an increase in pay from next April within
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prudent financial limits. A copy of this is available on the Department's website at www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/12/08/41/04120841.pdf.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make it her policy to make compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 a condition of registration under the Care Standards Act 2000; 
(2) if she will make it her policy to require local authorities entering into contracts with care providers to ensure that the recipient of care services has the full protection of the Human Rights Act 1998. 
Mr. Byrne: Consideration has been given to the application of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998 to independent sector bodies carrying out national health service services, and to organisations registered under the Care Standards Act 2000. This is, however, an issue tied into the wider question of the meaning given to public authority in the Human Rights Act 1998 and elsewhere in discrimination law and it will, therefore, be considered in the context of the discrimination law review currently being undertaken by the Government.
Local authorities are public authorities and are subject to the HRA. Local authorities are expected to take account of the relevant aspects of the HRA in their contracting arrangements, including those with care providers. On the recommendation of the parliamentary joint committee on human rights, guidance was published in March 2005 on contracting for services in the light of the HRA.
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Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how stockpiled supplies of antiviral drugs will be distributed. 
Caroline Flint: Primary care trusts will be responsible for developing plans for the distribution of antivirals. We have recently published a framework for the National health service for stockpiling, distributing and using antivirals which is available on our website: www.dh.gov.uk/pandemicflu.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what support has been given to research and development of a vaccine against possible pandemic strains of avian influenza in each year since 1997. 
Jane Kennedy: The development of a vaccine that will give effective protection against a new strain of influenza virus has to follow the emergence of the strain in humans.
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. At the same time, 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, the Government 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 main agencies through which the Government support influenza research are the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The research councils are independent bodies funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology.
MRC expenditure on research on influenza in the years from 199798 is shown in the table.
The MRC additionally supports a large infections portfolio that includes research aimed at improved treatment through developing new vaccines and drugs, and understanding how infectious organisms evade the body's immune defences and evolve drug resistance. Aspects of this research will be relevant to influenza.
The BBSRC spent some £2.5 million on influenza research in the years 200105. Earlier information is not available. In the last two years £0.5 million of the total has been spent on research on avian influenza, and has been aimed at understanding the virus and nature of infection.
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The Department funds research to support policy and to provide the evidence needed to underpin quality improvement and service development in the national health service. The Department's national research programme spend on research related to pandemic influenza vaccination in the period from 1997 to 2004 was £417,000.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which categories of (a) healthcare and (b) other key workers will be prioritised during an influenza pandemic to receive a pandemic virus vaccine once it has been developed. 
Caroline Flint: Once a vaccine for the pandemic flu strain has been developed, healthcare workers and key workers in other essential services may need to be vaccinated first, as it will be important to maintain health and other essential services during the pandemic. Final decisions regarding prioritisation will be made on the basis of information emerging from the early stages of the pandemic about the virus and those groups most at risk.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what discussions she has had with the Welsh Assembly Government on dealing with an influenza pandemic in Wales; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) what discussions she has had with her National Assembly for Wales Government counterpart on cross-border issues arising from contingency planning for an influenza pandemic. 
Caroline Flint: Discussions have not taken place with Welsh colleagues at ministerial level although we have worked closely with Welsh Assembly Government officials in the development of the UK Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan" that provides the framework for the overall response to a pandemic.
We also maintain a continuing dialogue with Assembly officials directly and through other channels such as the Cabinet Office working group on operational arrangements and guidance for the public and health professionals.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the actual costs against planned expenditure of the patient information systems being built by private companies in the NHS. 
[holding answer 10 November 2005]: Under the terms of the contracts let by NHS Connecting for Health, the agency which is delivering the NHS National Programme for Information Technology, a significant proportion of the risks has been transferred to the supplier. Payment to the supplier depends on system deployment. This incentivises deployment, and payments can be clawed back where subsequent milestones are not met. NHS Connecting for Health has retained extensive rights to terminate contracts for failure to achieve the required performance levels and to receive compensation for missed milestones.
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