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20 Jan 2006 : Column 1664W—continued

Fertility Treatment

Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 8 December 2005, Official Report, column 1568W, on fertility treatment, whether the Department has issued guidance to primary care trusts (PCTs) on how they should involve patient groups in decision-making on the prioritisation of funding for health services; what formal structures PCTs are expected to have in place to ensure that they involve patient groups in such decision-making; what monitoring is undertaken of PCTs' involvement of such groups; and who carries out that monitoring. [42724]

Caroline Flint: The Department's guidance, "Strengthening Accountability" (2003), provides details on how to deliver the legal requirement in section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 for all national health service organisations to involve and consult patients and the public on service development and provision on an on going basis. Compliance with Section 11 is assessed by the Healthcare Commission, and effectiveness in fulfilling the duty goes towards organisations' overall performance ratings. Primary care trusts are not required to have any formal structures but must show that they have arrangements in place to ensure that patients, the public and their representatives are involved in the planning and development of services.
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Freedom of Information

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many Freedom of Information applications her Department has received; how many have taken more than 20 days to process; and how many of these gave rise to complaints about the time taken. [31230]

Jane Kennedy: The Department received 660 freedom of information (FOI) applications between the period 1 January 2005 and 30 June 2005. 271 FOI applications took more than 20 days to process. Of these, 20 were requests where the 20 days deadline for response was extended to allow for consideration of the balance of public interest. The Department has received one complaint about the time taken to respond.

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 second quarter was published on 30 September 2005 and is available on the DCA's website at and is available in the Library. The next bulletin was published before Christmas, and an annual report will be published in early 2006.

Genito-urinary Medicine Clinics

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) Government target and (b) waiting times for an appointment at a genito-urinary medicine clinic within the Gravesham constituency were in the last period for which figures are available. [43262]

Caroline Flint: All primary care trusts' local delivery plans now include a target that the percentage of patients attending genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics who are offered an appointment to be seen within 48 hours of contacting a service reach 100 per cent. by 2008.

The report from the most recent survey of GUM clinic waiting times for August 2005 is published by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). This report provides details of the numbers of attendees seen within 48 hours of first contacting the clinic, and the number offered an appointment within 48 hours, including those who chose not to attend. This report which includes data for individual clinics, including those in the Gravesham area, is available on HPA's website at:

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of attenders at genito-urinary medicine clinics were not given an appointment within two weeks in the most recent period for which figures are available. [41962]

Caroline Flint: The most recent audit of waiting times for genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics, for which data are available, was carried out in August 2005. This audit showed that 21 per cent. of attendees at GUM clinics were not seen within two weeks. However, some of these patients will have been offered an earlier appointment but been unable to attend.
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A summary of August 2005 data is published on the Health Protection Agency website at the following web address:

Overall, the number of attendees at GUM clinics being offered an appointment within 48 hours in England increased from 45 per cent. in May 2005 to 48 per cent. in August 2005.

Gershon Review

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made, in terms of (a) headcount reductions and (b) cost savings, in achieving the efficiency objectives set for the Department by the Gershon review. [21306]

Mr. Byrne: Early 2004–05 gains were reported in Budget 2005 and the Department's annual report. Gains to quarter 2 2005–06 were in our autumn performance report.

Goldman Algorithm

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 January 2996 to Question 3775 on the Goldman algorithm, if she will list the algorithms used by the NHS in the assessment of acute myocardial infarction. [41557]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not collected centrally. However, when the Department published the national service framework for coronary heart disease in 2000, chapter 3, "Heart attacks and other acute coronary syndromes" provided best practice guides and protocols regarding the assessment of suspected myocardial infarction. The algorithms used will vary according to the clinician's preference.

Health Budget

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence was used to inform the statement in her speech to the London School of Economics on 13 December that less of the country's health budget is spent on prevention than almost any other developed country. [39354]

Mr. Byrne: The evidence is in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's report, "A System of Health Accounts".

Health Expenditure

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list (a) the programmes funded from her Department's Centrally Funded Initiatives and Services and Special Allocations budget in each year since 1997–98 and (b) future expenditure commitments already announced by Ministers which will be financed from this budget in the 2005–06 financial year. [39350]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Health Services (West Lancashire)

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate her Department has made of the number
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of people in the West Lancashire constituency in at risk groups who have not received a seasonal influenza vaccination this winter. [38373]

Caroline Flint: This information is not collected centrally.

The flu programme is general practitioner (GP) led. It is the responsibility of the GP to order sufficient flu vaccine for those in at risk groups on his or her register.

Hearing Services

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps her Department has taken to increase the number of trained audiologists; [39257]

(2) how many audiologists were (a) employed by the NHS and (b) undergoing training in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [39258]

Mr. Byrne: As at 30 September 2004, there were 1,582 qualified health care scientists working in audiology in the national health service in England. Prior to 2004, it is not possible to separate staff recorded in the NHS work force census working in audiology from other health care scientists. The numbers undertaking audiology training is shown in the table (these are the only years for which figures are available):
Grade A training for clinical scientists in audiologyBSc in audiology(27)Training for audiology techniciansDiploma in hearing therapy

(27) Not separately identified in departmental training information.
Quarterly monitoring.

A range of initiatives are in place to increase the number of trained audiologists working in the NHS, including the introduction in 2003–04 of the new BSc in audiology. We are also exploring the introduction of a new assistant practitioner role in audiology, which will help to increase capacity further. Furthermore, we have implemented initiatives to improve recruitment and retention for all staff, including audiologists, by improving pay and conditions, encouraging the NHS to become a better, more flexible and diverse employer, providing help with accessing child care, and running national and local recruitment campaigns.

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