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20 Dec 2005 : Column 2700W—continued


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of people with diabetes have been offered retinal screening to test for signs of diabetic retinopathy as part of a systematic retinal screening programme in the past 12 months. [36068]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 8 December 2005]: Latest performance data from local delivery plan monitoring shows that at September 2005 57.3 per cent. of people with diabetes had received screening for diabetic retinopathy over the past 12 months. National figures are not yet available on the numbers of patients offered screening. However, it is expected that at least 70 per cent. of people offered screening will receive it.

2004–05 data from general practices participating in the quality outcomes framework of the new general medical services contract records 85 per cent. of people with diabetes as screened. These two sources produce different information because the two data collections have different purposes and definitions.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects the National Screening Committee to issue its guidance on a national programme for the early identification of diabetes. [36069]

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Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 8 December 2005]: The United Kingdom National Screening Committee considered screening for type II diabetes at its meeting on 29 November 2005 and I expect to receive its advice on the next steps shortly.

Dr. Ann David

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will publish the result of the inquiry commissioned by the Basildon and Thurrock Hospital Trust under the HC90–9 procedure, into the conduct of Dr. Ann David; and if she will make a statement. [32005]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 28 November 2005]: I have no plans to publish the results of the disciplinary investigation commissioned by the Basildon and Thurrock Hospital National Health Service Trust under HC(90)9 procedure, into the conduct of Dr. Ann David. The investigation and report is an internal matter for the trust as the employer of an individual. It is a matter for the trust whether it wishes to publish a summary of the findings of its investigations.

Elderly Care Costs

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will commission research to establish the cost of providing all care for the elderly free of charge. [29580]

Mr. Byrne: In England, the Government have accepted each of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Long Term Care except the recommendation to provide free personal care in all settings.

Making personal care free for everyone carries a very substantial and increasing cost, but would not raise the standard or range of services available. The cost for 2005–06, estimated by the Department, is £1.7 billion.

Providing free bed and board costs in care homes, estimated by the Department, is around £2.3 billion for England. This does not assume any reduction in state pensions or other social security benefits.

An estimated overall total for free care in care homes and free personal care at home, is around £4 billion at current prices for the current year.

Foundation Trusts

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what health standards foundation trusts are required to meet by the Healthcare Commission. [35792]

Jane Kennedy: The Health and Social Care (Community Care and Standards) Act 2003 provides a power for the Secretary of State to publish statements of standards in relation to the provision of health care by and for English national health service bodies, which includes NHS foundation trusts. The Secretary of State published the standards as 'Standards for Better Health' in July 2004. All English NHS bodies are required to take these standards into account in discharging the duty of quality placed on them in the 2003 Act.

In addition, NHS foundation trusts are bound to comply with the standards under their terms of authorisation.
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The Healthcare Commission takes these standards into account when undertaking the annual assessment and rating of English NHS bodies, including NHS foundation trusts. The Commission publishes details of its assessment process on its website at:

Freedom of Information Act

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many requests for information have been received by her Department since the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force; how many requests have had their deadline extended beyond 20 working days to allow consideration of where the public interest lies; and how many requests have been refused on public interest grounds. [37645]

Jane Kennedy: The Department received 900 freedom of information (FOI) applications between the period 1 January and 30 September 2005. Of these, 31 had their deadline extended beyond 20 working days to allow consideration of the balance of public interest. There were 147 requests where the balance of public interest favoured withholding the information.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) is committed to publishing quarterly updates in relation to departmental performance under FOI, including information on both the volume and outcomes of requests. The bulletin for the third quarter was published on 15 December 2005 and can be found on the DCA's website at: and is available in the Library.

General Opthalmic Services

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects the recently announced review of the General Ophthalmic Services to be completed. [35061]

Ms Rosie Winterton: When we announced the review in August 2005, we indicated that we expected the review to report in early 2006. However, to take into account arguments put forward by the main representative bodies, we are extending the time scale to ensure full consideration of the issues. It is now likely that the review will report later in 2006. It will also ensure that the review is able to reflect the forthcoming White Paper on services outside hospital.

GM Food

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent international experience she has assessed in relation to the withdrawal of GM products for health reasons. [36425]

Caroline Flint: In the United Kingdom, genetically modified (GM) food and feed products may only be marketed if they have undergone a rigorous safety assessment and been granted an EU-wide authorisation. If new information comes to light concerning the safety of a GM product, there are a range of measures that can be taken to protect consumers at national and EU level. We are not aware of any withdrawal of GM products in other countries for health reasons that has implications for GM food or feed products that are authorised in the EU.
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Health Act 1999

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people aged (a) 18 to 24, (b) 25 to 30, (c) 31 to 40 and (d) over 40 years have been prosecuted under the Health Act 1999 for wrongful claims for free prescriptions in (i) Southend, (ii) Essex, (iii) Hertfordshire and (iv)England in each year since 2000. [36177]

Jane Kennedy: Since August 2001, a penalty charge system has been in place in respect of those falsely claiming exemption to national health service pharmaceutical charges. Since its introduction, more than 160,000 penalty notices have been issued. The total amount recovered to date is over £2,950,000. These figures are national and are not broken down into the age categories and regions as requested. Penalties are sanctioned through the civil courts as criminal prosecution of offenders would not be a cost-effective way of dealing with such high volume but low-value frauds.

The introduction of the penalty charge system has enabled the money recovered to be re-invested in providing better patient care within the NHS.

Health Bill

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhat discussions (a) Ministers and (b) officials
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have had with the World Health Organisation about part I of the Health Bill; and if she will make a statement. [36179]

Caroline Flint: Since publication of the Health Bill on 27 October 2005 there have been no formal discussions with the World Health Organisation (WHO) of part I of the Bill at either ministerial level or official level.

However, the content of the Bill is informed by the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of second-hand smoke as a human carcinogen in 2002. The United Kingdom has also, along with some 114 other countries, ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The WHO FCTC states:

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