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23 Nov 2005 : Column 2109W—continued

Fertility Treatment

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many primary care trusts in England are not providing at least one cycle of IVF to eligible couples with infertility; and if she will make a statement; [28504]

(2) what assessment she has made of the practice of primary care trusts of limiting the provision of NHS-funded infertility treatment to couples with no existing children; and if she will make a statement; [28505]

(3) what assessment she has made of whether primary care trusts are applying more restrictive female age criteria than the 23 to 39 years range set by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to couples seeking NHS-funded infertility treatment; and if she will make a statement; [28506]

(4) what action is being taken to ensure that the social eligibility criteria applied by primary care trusts to couples seeking infertility treatment is the same throughout the country. [28507]

Caroline Flint: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has carried out surveys following up the implementation of the clinical guideline on the assessment and treatment of people with fertility problems published in 2004. The surveys measuring the impact of the guideline, available on the NICE website at, have found that 95 per cent. of the primary care trusts (PCTs) who responded are offering at least one cycle of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to those defined as eligible according to local criteria. We advised PCTs to offer a minimum of one cycle of IVF by April 2005 to those who meet the clinical criteria in the guideline, giving priority to couples with no children living with them. We also advised that we expected the national health service to make progress to full implementation of the guideline in the longer term.
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The primary responsibility for the implementation of the NICE guidelines rests with the NHS at local level, in discussion with patients' groups and local health bodies. Local policies will reflect local needs and priorities.

Health Statistics (West Lancashire)

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many individuals in West Lancashire suffer from (a) coronary heart disease, (b) stroke and (c) diabetes; and what steps are being taken to reduce the numbers of people suffering from such diseases. [27684]

Mr. Byrne: There are 4,685 patients with diagnosed coronary heart disease and 3,691 patients with diabetes in the West Lancashire Primary Care Trust. Information from the West Lancashire PCT indicates that there are 1,795 patients with strokes in the West Lancashire PCT. It should be noted that the total number of diagnoses may not equate to the total number of patients as some may have more than one condition.

West Lancashire PCT is implementing the standards contained in the National Service Frameworks (NSFs), and have implementation groups covering all disease areas. Stroke is addressed specifically in the older persons NSF and coronary heart disease and diabetes have separate working groups.

Healthcare Commission

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints there have been to the Healthcare Commission in each year since it was established; what the backlog is of complaints waiting to be considered by the Healthcare Commission; how many complaints have been considered and determined in each year since the Healthcare Commission was established; and what the estimated cost of considering a complaint is. [28682]

Jane Kennedy: The Healthcare Commission was established on 1 April 2004 and its function for handling complaints was introduced on 31 July 2004.

I understand from the Chairman of the Healthcare Commission that from 31 July 2004 to 31 March 2005, 5,753 complaints were received. 830 of those were considered and determined. From April 2005 to date, 4,694 complaints have been received with 4,981 considered and determined within this period.

The Healthcare Commission's target is for 95 per cent. of cases to be resolved within six months. There are currently 1,543 cases over six months old awaiting determination.

The cost per case depends on the complexity of the case but typically ranges from less complex cases being in the region of £500 to those cases needing further investigation being in the region of £1,125.

Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Strategic Health Authority

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the budget of the Hertfordshire and
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Bedfordshire strategic health authority is for 2005–06; and what plans she has to increase this budget for the next financial year. [25583]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire strategic health authority (SHA) has a resource budget of £4.8 million for its running costs in 2005–06.

The Department has not determined SHA budgets for 2006–07.

It is for primary care trusts to commission services for the population that they service and we have set their revenue budgets for 2006–07 and 2007–08 to give them continued certainty of funding for three years.

Hospital Cleanliness

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to increase the standards of cleanliness in hospitals. [25188]

Jane Kennedy: The Department has a comprehensive and multi-faceted programme of work around cleaner hospitals covering a wide range of issues, including:

Hospital cleanliness is measured annually as part of the patient environment action team (PEAT) assessment. The process has been reviewed this year, and the proportion of the assessment form that relates to cleanliness, as opposed to other environmental factors has increased from around 11 per cent. to almost 25 per cent.

The inspection standards for hospital cleanliness have been made tougher year on year.

Hospital Travel Costs Scheme

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to alter the income eligibility threshold above which help is not available under the hospital travel costs scheme. [27337]

Jane Kennedy: The hospital travel cost scheme is part of the national health service low income scheme and there are currently no plans to alter the low income scheme eligibility criteria.

Independent Nurse Pharmacist Prescribing

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her written statement of 10 November 2005, Official Report, column 24WS, on Independent Nurse Pharmacist Prescribing, whether independent nurse prescribers allowed to prescribe controlled drugs will continue to be allowed to do so when the relevant regulations are amended; and if she will list the controlled drugs nurses are currently able to prescribe independently. [29856]

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Jane Kennedy: The nurse prescribers' extended formulary currently includes the following controlled drugs:

These controlled drugs will continue to be prescribable by extended formulary nurse prescribers.

A further six controlled drugs will shortly be added, subject to amendment of all relevant regulations, the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2005 and the Prescription Only Medicines Order 1997.

Influenza Pandemic

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what support she is providing to pharmaceutical companies to provide mock-up vaccines against possible strains of pandemic influenza. [23011]

Caroline Flint: A specific pandemic flu vaccine cannot be manufactured until the exact flu strain is known. The Department has met with vaccine manufacturers to discuss their preparedness for a flu pandemic and their progress towards producing a mock up vaccine.

We are working closely with other countries, the World Health Organization, and the European Commission and are in regular dialogue with manufacturers to ensure that a vaccine can be developed as quickly as possible once a pandemic influenza strain emerges. This will allow us to put arrangements in place to ensure production of vaccine for the United Kingdom population.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in (a) Staffordshire and (b) England have received a free influenza vaccine. [26159]

Caroline Flint: The percentage uptake of those aged 65 and over immunised in Staffordshire at the end of October was 53 per cent. The percentage of at risk groups vaccinated was 31 per cent.

The number of people in England immunised at the end of October was 49 per cent. in those aged 65 and over and 25 per cent. in at risk groups.

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