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19 Dec 2005 : Column 2630W—continued

Microbiology Water Specialists

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many Health Protection Agency teams have appointed microbiology water specialists, broken down by region. [35793]

Caroline Flint: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has six specialist water microbiologists in post. Four of these are employed at the Centre for Infections, at Colindale; one is at the Newcastle regional laboratory; and one is at the South East regional laboratory.

Midwife-led Birthing Centres

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the role of midwife-led birthing centres. [37423]

Mr. Byrne: Midwife-led birth centres offer a comfortable, low-tech environment for women who have been assessed as being at low risk of developing complications during birth.

Midwife-led care should be provided within a framework that enables easy and early transfer of women and babies who unexpectedly require specialist care. As with other options, the outcome of these types of care should be regularly audited.
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The maternity standard of the national service framework for children, young people and maternity services requires national health service maternity care providers and primary care trusts to ensure that the range of services available locally constitutes real choice for women. Local options for midwife-led care may include midwife-led units in the community or on a hospital site.

Mobile Phone Masts

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will commission an independent study of epidemiology in relation to mobile telephone masts and their possible impacts on health; and if she will make a statement; [31165]

(2) if the Government will carry out epidemiological research into cancer clusters around mobile phone masts that have been in place for 10 years or more; and if she will make a statement. [38335]

Caroline Flint: The independently managed mobile telecommunications and health research (MTHR) programme, jointly funded by Government and industry, has supported about 30 individual studies to investigate the potential health effects of radiofrequency (RF) exposures from mobile phone technology. The programme has commissioned a study of cancer incidence in pre-school children living near mobile phone base stations compared with those living further away. Infants and young children are more likely to be home-based and this is the reason why the MTHR childhood cancer study has, to date, been the only scientifically viable option for epidemiology around base stations. Studies of older children and adults have not been recommended because proximity to base stations has been shown to be a poor representation of exposure to RF fields. The MTHR studies concentrate largely on the exposures from the mobile phone handsets because these exposures are considerably higher than those from base stations. A description of the programme and the individual studies can be found on its web site

The report entitled Mobile Phones and Health 2004 published by the National Radiological Protection Board (now the Radiation Protection Division of the Health Protection Agency, HPA) noted that there are continuing concerns about the impact of base stations on health and well-being

This report is published as Documents of the NRPB, Vol 15, No 5 and can be found on the HPA's website at: The report recommended

In line with this recommendation, the MTHR programme has supported an assessment of a prototype RF exposure meter for the possible use in future epidemiological studies in relation to base stations.
19 Dec 2005 : Column 2632W

Morecambe Primary Care Trust

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will assess the proposal by the Morecambe primary care trust to close the mental health wards that it rents at Westmorland General hospital. [37876]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 15 December 2005]: This is a matter for the Morecambe Bay primary care trust in discussion with interested stakeholders.


James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many official complaints were made during the last eight years from people or relatives of people who contracted MRSA living in (a) London, (b) the London borough of Havering and (c) Hornchurch constituency in connection with hygiene conditions at the hospital or health centre where they or their family member contracted MRSA. [35306]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 14 December 2005]: The information requested is not collected centrally.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthhow many full time equivalent medical staff there were within neurological specialty practising in the NHS in each year since 2001; and how many were (a) consultants, (b) registrars and (c) senior house officers. [31927]

Mr. Byrne: The requested information is shown in the following table.
Hospital, public health medicine and community health services: Medical staff within the neurology and neurosurgery specialties by specified grade—England(129)
Full time equivalents

of which:
Registrar group147152166183
Senior house officer119119144150
Other staff60513738
of which:
Registrar group131147162185
Senior house officer115130140152
Other staff18251210

(129)2001 to 2004, data as at 30 September.
NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre medical and dental workforce census

NHS Administration

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the average number of hours each week a (a) nurse and (b) doctor spent on administrative tasks in (i) 1997, (ii) 2000 and (iii) the most recent period for which figures are available. [29831]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested is not held centrally.
19 Dec 2005 : Column 2633W

NHS Commissioning

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps she plans to take to consult local communities and other stakeholders about proposals to outsource the commissioning function of primary care trusts; [20964]

(2) whether as part of her plans for a patient-led NHS local authorities will be able to bid to discharge the commissioning function of primary care trusts. [21047]

Mr. Byrne: As part of the proposals for primary caretrust (PCT) reconfiguration, one strategic health authority (SHA) has proposed to procure an external management team to run one of their newly proposed PCTs. However, this proposal will not be considered during the forthcoming local consultation as it is for the new PCTs, not the current SHAs, to decide how best to manage their responsibilities after reconfiguration.

NHS Finance Data

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her written statement of 1 December 2005, Official Report, column 37WS, on publication of NHS finance data, what criteria she is setting in selecting which NHS trusts will be supported by turnaround teams; and whether any NHS trusts in Worcestershire are planned to be so supported. [34995]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 6 December 2005]: The turnaround teams will undertake an assessment of organisations that are forecasting the most significant deficits, to ensure that there is an agreed understanding of the local financial problem and that the necessary immediate actions are in hand to address it. Following this there will be the opportunity to agree tailored packages of support with the strategic health authority (SHA) and the organisation. It is planned that there is an assessment with West Midlands South SHA of the financial position of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals National Health Service Trust.

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