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20 Dec 2005 : Column 2709W—continued


Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the provision of safe and effective medicines for the NHS at reasonable prices. [30991]

Jane Kennedy: The prices of branded prescription medicines and the profits that companies are allowed to make on their sales to the national health service (NHS)
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are controlled by the pharmaceutical price regulation scheme (PPRS). It aims to achieve a balance between reasonable prices for the NHS and a fair return for the industry to enable it to develop and market new and improved medicines. The 2005 PPRS included a price reduction of 7 percent., which will deliver expenditure savings of some £2 billion over the next five years for the NHS in England.

New arrangements to set the reimbursement of generic medicines were introduced from 1 April 2004. These reflect the underlying market price of these medicines and will reduce the cost of the medicines by £300 million per annum. This money is being used to fund the new pharmacy contractual framework. The new framework gives primary care trusts the opportunity to work with local pharmacists to develop a range of high quality community pharmacy services. This will make them an integral part of local primary care provision.

Mental Capacity Advocate Service

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the result of the consultation was on the proposed independent mental capacity advocate service; and what pilot projects are planned ahead of its introduction. [30583]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We are in the process of analysing the responses to the consultation on the independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) service which ended on 30 September. We received 174 written responses to the consultation. In addition, some 450 people attended regional road shows to put forward their views on the consultation in a more informal way.

We want to look at the detail of the arguments made in the consultation process to gauge public opinion before deciding how to proceed, in particular about how the regulation making powers on the IMCA should be used and on the operation and implementation of the service. The aim will be to keep statutory regulation to the minimum. The Government will publish the results of the consultation.

As part of the development work for the IMCA service we are setting up some IMCA pilots to help identify the practical issues involved in implementing it.

The objective of the Independent Mental Capacity Act (IMCA) pilots is to test how this new service will work, in advance of it becoming a national requirement in April 2007. The pilots will test different ways of setting up this service—for example with full-time IMCA advocates and with sessional advocates. They will test systems for recording, referral and for monitoring. The outcome will be good practice guidance which will be useful both for the commissioners of this service when it becomes a national requirement and also for the future IMCA advocacy providers, many of whom may be small and will benefit from access to information about good practice in other advocacy services.

The budget for the pilots is £500,000. The pilots will take place in Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Croydon, Dorset, Hertfordshire, Merseyside, Newcastle, and Southwark. The pilots will be evaluated by an
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externalresearcher who will work with the advocacy organisations to develop protocols such as monitoring systems and reflective diaries.

Morecambe Bay Primary Care Trust

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients are on the waiting list of the Morecambe Bay Primary Care Trust (PCT) for allocation to an NHS dentist; and how many patients of Morecambe Bay PCT are being treated in other PCT areas. [29319]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information relating to the number of patients on the waiting list of Morecambe Bay primary care trust for allocation to a national health service dentist is not held centrally.

The number of patients living in the Morecambe Bay PCT area registered with a dentist outside the PCT area is 4,521.

These areas have been defined using the Office of National Statistics all field postcodes Directory May 2005.

Dental Practice Board.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients in each strategic health authority contracted MRSA in each year since 1995. [34135]

Jane Kennedy: Information on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) blood stream infections by strategic health authority is not available in the format requested.

NHS Complaints

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether NHS complaints procedures apply to NHS patients treated in private (a) diagnostic and treatment centres and (b) cataract operation units; [34269]

(2) whether an NHS patient seeking compensation following mistreatment in a private (a) diagnostic and treatment centre and (b) cataract operation unit can sue the NHS. [34270]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 5 December 2005]: National health service patients who are referred for treatment in independent sector treatment centres have the same right to complain as patients who are treated by NHS providers. The responsibility for handling complaints from NHS patients rests with the appropriate NHS primary care trust or acute trust that referred the patient. Such complaints are handled through the NHS complaints process. In addition, independent sector treatment centre providers that have NHS patients referred to them for treatment are also required to have their own patient complaints procedures in place.

Healthcare professionals treating referred NHS patients are covered by NHS Indemnity for any negligent act or omission.
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NHS Computers

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether she plans to replace the current stock of NHS computer (a) keyboards, (b) mice and (c) keyboard readers with washable versions; [33748]

(2) what assessment she has made of (a) the role of (i) computer mice, (ii) keyboards and (iii) keyboard readers in the spread of MRSA in hospitals and (b) the contribution which could be made by washable versions of each to its prevention; [33749]

(3) what guidance is given to NHS staff on the sterilisation of computer (a) keyboards, (b) mice and (c) keyboard readers. [33750]

Jane Kennedy: The supply of computer equipment is a local responsibility.

Computer keyboards and other equipment can become contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria capable of causing infections and regular cleaning is recommended by infection control experts. Regular cleaning will reduce the risk of infection from these sources, but as they may become contaminated between cleaning episodes it is essential that staff clean their hands before touching patients. This is why we have the national cleanyourhands" campaign.

NHS Finance

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS hospital trusts and primary care trusts serving South West Bedfordshire constituency are forecasting a significant financial deficit at the 2005–06 year end; and if she will set out the forecast deficit in each case. [35648]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 8 December 2005]: The primary care trusts (PCTs) and national health service trusts covered by South West Bedfordshire constituency that are forecasting a deficit at Month 6 2005–06 are set out in the table:

Organisation name
2005–06 Month 6 forecast under(over) spend £000
Bedfordshire Heartlands PCT20,000
Bedford Hospitals NHS Trust12,056

NHS Staff (Assaults)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information her Department collects concerning assaults on NHS workers; and what recent changes her Department has made to data collected regarding violence towards staff. [35418]

Jane Kennedy: In November 2003, the national health service introduced a comprehensive range of measures to tackle violence against NHS staff. This included two legally based definitions for the reporting of physical and non-physical assaults to ensure that appropriate action is taken following such incidents.
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The NHS security management service currently collects information relating to incidents of physical assaults against NHS staff, through its national reporting system, which became fully operational from April 2004.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information the NHS Security Management Service collects concerning the sentences handed down as a result of prosecutions involving physical assaults on staff. [35419]

Jane Kennedy: The information requested is not currently collated centrally.

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