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Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to reduce the laundry turn-around time at hospitals and the risks of cross infection in homes and hospitals caused by hospital staff laundering uniforms at home. 
National health service trusts management are required to adopt procedures that ensure that patients and staff are not put at risk of infection from used and infected linen. It is also their responsibility to establish with their laundry provider appropriate performance measures.
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Advice and guidance on hospital laundry arrangements was issued to NHS trusts in Health Service Guidance HSG (95)18". This sets out the arrangements for the handling and laundering of linen and states the importance of securing the disinfection of used and infected linen, including uniforms. This guidance is being reviewed to ensure it reflects current research evidence.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many statutory instruments introduced by her Department had to be (a) withdrawn, (b) amended by a further statutory instrument and (c) reprinted because of defective drafting in each session since 1997; and what steps she (i) is taking and (ii) plans to take to prevent further such instances. 
Jane Kennedy: Information is not available in the format requested. The information in the table gives the number of statutory instruments (SI) issued free of charge because of an error or defect in an earlier instrument.
|Number of SIs|
We have identified one occasion when an instrument was withdrawn. This was in the 200405 parliamentary Session. The Department lays in the order of 150 SIs a year and any errors are regretted. We have a range of measures in place to provide expert advice and training to lawyers and officials involved in the process and aim to ensure that lessons are learned.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what training is given to (a) policy officials and (b) lawyers in her Department responsible for drafting statutory instruments; and if she will make a statement. 
As members of the Government Legal Service (GLS), departmental lawyers receive extensive training on the preparation and drafting of statutory instruments. This consists of a combination of lectures and practical exercises run by experienced practitioners in the GLS, coupled with training given by legal advisers who advise the parliamentary scrutiny committees. In addition, senior managers in the GLS take a close interest in the quality of SIs and provide frequent feedback and on the
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job training to those with lead responsibility for drafting. This is an ongoing process and part of the continuing education of Government legal advisers.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what capital allocations she expects to be made available to the Shropshire and Staffordshire strategic health authority over the next three years; and for what purpose each allocation will be made. 
Jane Kennedy: The figures requested are published in civil service statistics. Table A in civil service statistics covers permanent and temporary staff numbers on a full-time equivalent basis in the Department. Civil service statistics are available in the Library and on the Cabinet Office statistics website at:
Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will break down the number of (a) agency staff, (b) contractors and (c) consultants currently employed within the Department by (i) pay band and (ii)length of contract. 
Jane Kennedy: Preparatory work on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) appraisal of Velcade has commenced. Velcade is one of the five drugs in the first tranche of appraisals in NICE'S single topic appraisal process. The first guidance from this new process is expected to be published in mid 2006.
In 1999, the Department issued Health Service Circular 1999/176, which asks national health service bodies to continue with local arrangements for the managed introduction of new technologies where guidance from NICE has not yet been issued. These arrangements should include an assessment of the available evidence.
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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average length of time was to make an appointment with a general practitioner in North Yorkshire in the last period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Byrne: The requested data are not collected or held centrally. Since 2001, data have been collected each month from primary care trusts and general practitioners (GPs) on the availability of access to a GP. These data show whether access is or is not available in line with 'The NHS Plan' target that patients should be able to be seen within 48 hours but do not provide information on actual waiting times. In November in North and East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire strategic health authority, primary care trusts reported that 100 per cent. of patients were able to be offered a GP consultation within two working days.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions her Department has had with the chief executive of Walsgrave hospital regarding its predicted monetary shortfall in 200506. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has not discussed the matter with the chief executive of University hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire National Health Service Trust. It is the responsibility of strategic health authorities (SHAs) to deliver both overall financial balance for their local health communities and to ensure each and every body achieves financial balance. This is now a matter for West Midlands South SHA.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which of the local authorities referred to in the answer of 11 November 2003, Official Report, columns 2171W, subsequently employed private contractors or partners to deliver education services. 
The following authorities have all been directed to outsource some or most of their education functions to a private contractor as a result of independent inspection evidence of failure of those services. Other authorities may have chosen to employ private contractors or partners to deliver some of their education services, but have not been required to do so. We expect local authorities to take responsibility for improving their own services, and would not intervene and direct a particular solution unless the authority demonstrates it is unable to do so.
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