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Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what measures she has put in place to ensure the safety of commercial cloth laundering services supplying NHS maternity wards with communally laundered cloth nappies for newborn babies; and what temperature these nappies are washed at; 
Mr. Byrne: Commercial cloth laundering services supplying national health services maternity wards with communally laundered cloth nappies for newborn babies must comply with NHS laundry guideline with HSG(95)18, a copy of which has been placed in the Library. The guidelines set a thermal disinfection wash cycle in which the water temperature has been raised to 65 degrees centigrade for not less than ten minutes or to 71 degrees centigrade for not less than three minutes.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures the Government are taking to protect jobs in the proposed reforms of (a) the Dental Practice Board, (b) the NHS Logistics Authority, (c) the NHS Pensions Agency and (d) the Prescription Pricing Authority. 
Mr. Byrne: The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) will be formed through a merger of the Dental Practice Board, NHS Logistics Authority, NHS Pensions Agency and Prescription Pricing Authority which is scheduled to take place on 1 April 2006.
No decision has been taken to privatise any of the functions of the NHSBSA. However, contracting out and market testing will be considered if they offer value for money. If engagement with the private sector offers better value and results in a decision to transfer service delivery from BSA constituent organisations to a new employer, the BSA will follow best practice within national health service organisations; those staff who move across will have the protection of the transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations and benefit from the recent joint statement of good practice issued on 6 October 2005 by the Department, NHS employers, the Confederation of British Industry and the Business Services Association, together with a number of trade unions.
Mr. Byrne: NHS Direct Special Health Authority (SpHA) is responsible for setting overall strategy and direction for the service. There are no immediate plans to make services accessible in this way. Any future plans would need to be considered by the SpHA in the context of its three-year multi-channel strategy and agreed by Department through the established governance arrangements.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent estimate she has made of the cost to the NHS of the bullying of members of its staff by other members of its staff; and if she will make a statement. 
No official estimate of the financial cost of bullying in the national health service has been made. However, the NHS national staff survey for 2004, carried out by the Healthcare Commission, revealed that 16 per cent. of NHS staff had been bullied, harassed or abused by other staff in the previous year. Given that the NHS employs over 1,300,000 people, the total personal and financial costs of bullying is unacceptably high. With the support of NHS employers, the Department is working to ensure an approach of zero tolerance to bullying and harassment in the NHS.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations have been made to the Department by (a) the Royal Statistical Society and (b) the Statistics Commission on the presentation of NHS workforce data; and how the Department has responded. 
Jane Kennedy: Two representations have been made this year to the Department by the Royal Statistical Society and the Statistics Commission on the publication in March 2004 of an incorrect chart showing trends in the national health service's workforce. The Department responded to both representations, acknowledging that the chart was incorrect, and indicating that a correction had been published on the Department's website. The central message that the chart had intended to convey, increases in the work force each year since 1997, was still correct.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she will make a decision on the reorganisation of Norfolk primary care trusts; and if she will undertake a public consultation process. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Strategic health authorities haverecently submitted their proposals for the reconfiguration of primary care trusts, which set out how they intend to strengthen their commissioning function. These proposals have been assessed by an independent external panel drawn from and representing a wide range of stakeholder interests, to determine whether the SHA proposals meet the criteria stipulated in 'Commissioning a Patient-Led NHS' (July 2005). Where the criteria are judged to have been met the proposals will go forward to a three-month public consultation. No decisions on the reorganisation of PCTs will be taken until this process has been completed.
The National Audit Team for the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency monitor the commercial agencies providing personnel to the national health service via national framework agreements.
28 Nov 2005 : Column 280W
Of the 55 nursing agencies that have been audited nationally 29 have passed the audit requirements and 12 agencies have been terminated from the frameworks. The remainder have or will be undergoing a second audit with recommendations to be made following the reports.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effect of obesity on the budget for drug prescribing by general practitioners for (i) obesity and (ii) (A) diabetes, (B) coronary heart disease, (C) stroke, (D) hypertension, (E) hyperthyroidism, (F) cancer, (G) arthritis, (H) asthma and (I) other associated co-morbidities. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 22 November 2005]: No research has been commissioned on the effect of obesity on the budget for drug prescribing by general practitioners (GPs) for treating obesity and its consequences. However, 222,000 items of all anti-obesity drugs were prescribed in GP practices in England and dispensed in the community in the second quarter of 2005, April to June 2005, with a net ingredient cost of £9.6 million.
Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of whether the employment of South African clinicians to provide cataract operations by Netcare complies with the Government's ethical recruitment policy. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 17 October 2005]: Yes. Netcare are contractually obliged to follow the Government's Code of Practice for International Recruitment. This is in line with the Memorandum of Understanding with South Africa, which specifically enables qualified healthcare professionals to undertake time-limited placements in the United Kingdom providing opportunities for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and skills.
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