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Cancer Treatment (GP Referrals)

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress the national health service has made towards meeting its target of a maximum two-month wait from urgent GP referral to first treatment for all cancers. [41170]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 12 January 2006]: The standard of a maximum wait of two months from urgent general practitioner referral to first treatment was introduced at the end of December 2005. The latest data on progress towards achievement of the standard are for quarter two, 2005–06 (July to September 2005) where 80.5 per cent. of patients received their first treatment for cancer within two months of urgent referral by their general practitioner. Progress data towards the one month (31 day) and two month (62 day) targets are available on the Department's website since quarter four, 2004–5, at:

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Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the consultants which are being used by the commercial directorate in her Department; what the value is of those contracts; and whether payments are based on identified cost savings. [33610]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 1 December 2005]: The commercial directorate functions as the central point in securing best value as well as achieving greater levels of effectiveness for the Department and the national health service through the use of best commercial practices and better commercial relationships. It is also responsible for the procurement of independent sector treatment centres and the implementation of the NHS supply chain excellence programme.

The independent sector treatment centre programme has involved procuring circa £2 billion of activity across a range of projects including treatment centres, mobile magnetic resonance imaging scan units, and commuter walk-in centres. The next phase of procurements are currently planned to involve over £3.5 billion of activity. In addition, the implementation of the NHS supply chain excellence programme will deliver potential annualised savings of £500 million by 2007–08.

In the financial year 2004–05, the directorate used the following consultancy and legal firms at a cost of £38.4 million, including £12.8 million on legal advice, from the department's programmes' budget. These were: Accenture Plc., Addelshaw Goddard, Ashurst and Co., Atos Origin IT, Augmentis, Avail/Yale/Tribal Consulting, Currie and Brown, Deloitte, AT Kearney, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Gardiner and Theobald, HOK International, KPMG, Marsh UK Ltd., Morgan Cole, National Economic Research, NDY Consulting, NHS Professionals, OVE Arup and Partners, Precept, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Translucency Ltd., Willis Ltd., Wragge and Co.. Individual contracts vary, but payments are made for work completed against a set of contractual deliverables.

In addition, in the financial year 2004–05 the directorate had 125 contracts with independent contractors and agencies at a cost of £28.6 million from the Department's programmes' budget.


Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has recently received on the effectiveness of personal dental services contracts; and what assessment she has made of (a) treatment incentives for dentists and (b) the cost-effectiveness of contracts. [26003]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has not received any formal representations on the effectiveness of personal dental services (PDS) agreements. The evidence of pilot PDS agreements, now covering 35 per cent. of dentists, is that when a dentist's national health service earnings are no longer directly related to individual treatments, he or she are able to plan simpler and more appropriate courses of treatment. This frees up time and capacity that can be used to spend more time with patients, adopt a more preventive approach to dentistry, and improve management of workload.
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Assessing cost-effectiveness depends on what criteria are used to measure outputs or outcomes. Any assessment based on measuring individual items of treatment would not take into account the benefits for patients of simpler and more appropriate courses of treatment and a greater focus on oral health promotion. In the future, the cost effectiveness of contracts could be assessed by comparing expenditure with courses of treatment, numbers of patients accessing services and improvements in oral health.

IVF Treatment

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhat the basis is for the policy that it is (a) clinically effective and (b) cost effective to restrict NHS funding for IVF treatment to women aged 30 years and over. [42257]

Caroline Flint: We do not have such a policy. At our request, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence issued a guideline, in 2004, on the most appropriate clinical treatment for people with fertility problems. That guideline did not refer to restricting in vitro fertilisation treatment to women aged 30 and over. The primary responsibility for the provision of infertility services rests with the national health service at local level. We are discussing with Infertility Network UK, the leading voluntary organisation representing the interests of fertility patients, ways in which they can work with primary care trusts to help ensure that the patient's voice is heard when decisions about the provision of services are made at local level.

Medical Student Debts

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what financial assistance her Department makes available for medical student debts. [39738]

Mr. Byrne: The Department makes student support available from the fifth year of undergraduate medical education and for postgraduate students on four-year courses in years two to four.

Details are available in the documents, A guide to financial support for higher education students in 2005/2006" and Financial Help for Health Care Students (eighth edition)", copies of which are available in the Library. We make no special provision for financial assistance for medical student debts.

Mental Health

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the relationship between different childcare environments and mental health outcomes in (a) infancy and (b) adulthood; and if she will make a statement. [40898]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

DfES has commissioned a specific study investigating the effects of different types of childcare and early education settings (the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) study). This and other evidence suggests high quality integrated childcare and education settings are the most effective environments in improving outcomes for children. Childcare can also reduce stress among parents with young children.
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No studies have yet investigated the relationship between different childcare environments and adult mental health.

NHS Finance Data

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much financial support has been committed to eachNHS organisation from (a) strategic health authorities and (b) the NHS Bank in (i) 2004–05 and (ii) 2005–06. [35368]

Mr. Byrne: The latest year for which audited data is available on the financial support given to national health service organisations by strategic health authorities (SHAs), and the NHS Bank is 2004–05.

Tables have been placed in the Library, which set out the financial support reported by primary care trusts and NHS trusts. Some of this support is internally generated by other organisations within the SHA, and some of the support is provided by the NHS Bank.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the capital cost was of each private finance initiative scheme over £25 million for which her Department is responsible (a) at the outline business case stage, (b) as reported in the 2004–05 financial year and (c) in the 2005–06 financial year; and what the percentage change in capital costs (i) has been since the outline business case stage and (ii) is in the last 12 months. [35147]

Mr. Byrne: This information is collected from national health service trusts and is included in the tables to the Health Select Committee as part of the Department's evidence for the annual public expenditure inquiry. This shows the requested information for all schemes over £10 million. A copy of this year's table 5.3.4 has been placed in the Library.

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