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5 Dec 2005 : Column 1060W—continued

Contrast Thermal Imaging

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS centres in England have contrast thermal imaging equipment; and what plans there are to increase the number. [21391]

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Mr. Byrne: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Diagnostic Scans

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the reasons healthcare providers operating existing NHS scanners are unable to meet the demand for diagnostic scans in the NHS. [19845]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 20 October 2005]: Independent sector diagnostic scanning activity has been procured to meet the immediate need for additional workforce and imaging capacity to treat national health service patients and to enable the Government to deliver their election manifesto pledge to deliver a maximum wait of 18 weeks from general practitioner referral to hospital treatment by 2008.

As well as making selective use of the independent sector, the Government are also tackling the shortage of radiographers in the NHS. The pledges in the NHS Plan to train and recruit more therapists and other health professionals have been delivered and we expect that there will be 30,000 more therapists and scientists, including radiographers, employed in the NHS by 2008 than there were in 2001.

Flu Pandemic

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) mortuary and (b) crematoria capacity is estimated to be adequate for dealing with the anticipated increase in death rates during an influenza pandemic. [24657]

Paul Goggins: I have been asked to reply.

Work is being taken forward on the capacity of local mortuaries and crematoria within the theoretical projections in the UK Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan. An assessment will be put to Ministers before the end of the year.

Foundation Hospitals

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many foundation hospitals plan to commission services from the private sector; and if she will make a statement. [22255]

Mr. Byrne: National health service foundation trusts (NHSFTs) are free to enter into arrangements with third parties at their own discretion, subject to the terms of their authorisation issued by Monitor and the cap on private patient activity set out in legislation. If NHSFTs wish to collaborate with third parties to the benefit of NHS patients, they are free to do so subject to these constraints.

General Practice

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 21 July 2005, Official Report, column 2163W, on general practitioners' contracts, when she expects the NHS employers organisation to report back. [17692]

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Mr. Byrne: Negotiations are progressing and it is hoped that the first phase of the contract review will be completed before Christmas, with any changes being implemented from April 2006.

Glass Injuries

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS patients received treatment for incidents involving stabbing and laceration by glass in the latest year for which figures are available; and how many of these incidents were alcohol-related. [30878]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 22 November 2005]: There were 4,772 finished admission episodes due to assault by a sharp object in 2003–04. It is not possible to identify how many of these incidents involved stabbing and laceration by glass, nor is it possible to identify how many were alcohol related.

Healthcare Professionals Recruitment

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 15 November 2005, Official Report, columns 1169–70W, on healthcare professionals recruitment, (1) what sanctions (a) are available and (b) have been used in cases in which a breach of the code of practice on the International Recruitment of Healthcare Professionals has been identified; [30787]

(2) how many breaches of the code of practice have been identified by NHS employers; how many of these have led to penalties (a) after the code of practice was first published and (b) since it was revised in December 2004; [30788]

(3) what discussions her Department has had with NHS employers on the effectiveness of the monitoring of compliance with the Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Healthcare Professionals; and what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of (a) systems of monitoring used and (b) steps taken by NHS employers to ensure compliance with the code of practice. [30791]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 21 November 2005]: NHS Employers are responsible for monitoring the code of practice, investigating alleged breaches of the code and applying any appropriate sanctions. The latter can include investigation and removal from the list of agencies adhering to the code of practice. The Department receives regular reports on compliance with the code from NHS Employers and holds regular review meetings with NHS Employers on the operation of the code. There is routine liaison between officials of the Department and NHS Employers. To date, 11 agencies have been removed from the list for breaches of the code.

Hospital Finances

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what date her Department instructed strategic health authorities to review the financial stability of every hospital; and what deadline she has set to receive responses. [29969]

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Mr. Byrne [holding answer 21 November 2005]: I would like to refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health on 7 November 2005, Official Report, column 5WS.

Hospital Trusts

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 12 July 2005, Official Report, column 688W, on hospital trusts, what account will be taken of the interdependency of accident and emergency with other hospital departments when deciding whether departments will be closed; and if she will make a statement. [18872]

Mr. Byrne: Decisions about service reconfiguration are a matter for the national health service locally. Patients will increasingly influence such decisions as they exercise their new abilities to choose where their treatment takes place. However, this Government are committed to maintaining a national accident and emergency service and we expect the NHS to take into account the impact of reconfiguring interdependent services when making such decisions.

Independent Treatment Centres

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is planning to take to ensure that independent treatment centres work to their optimum capacity. [18477]

Mr. Byrne: Independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) are intended to build capacity to treat national health service patients as quickly and effectively as possible. Primary care trusts (PCTs) have signed up to referral levels in contract for all wave one ISTCs. Optimising the use of this capacity is a matter for PCTs under contract. In the future, the decision whether or not patients are referred to an independent sector provider will be down to the choice of individual patients and service providers and commissioners will need to respond accordingly.

Information Technology

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on schemes to install centralised information technology systems for patient care in the NHS since 1997. [27220]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 20 November 2005]: Funds for information management and technology systems are included in general allocations to the national health service. Until 2003, comprehensive information about actual spend across the NHS was not collected centrally. Since then, this information has been available from revenue expenditure reported through an annual national survey of NHS bodies, and capital expenditure identified from NHS accounts, and is as follows:
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£ million

1. Figures do not include expenditure on software licenses, expenditure by special health authorities, or central expenditure through the Department.
2. In both years a small number of NHS bodies failed to complete survey returns. The revenue component has been projected to 100 per cent, response in each case.

Comparable information for 2004–05 is not yet available.

In addition, NHS Connecting for Health is managing contracts to the value of £6.2 billion for the national programme for information technology in the NHS in the period 2002–10 above the ongoing NHS baseline expenditure. To date, £234 million has been paid to the programme's principal contractors.

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