|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 July 2005, Official Report, column 226W, on the Patientline Contract, what monitoring her Department has carried out on the (a) pricing policies and (b) profits of Patientline. 
Patientline is contracted by national health service trusts to supply a service for patients. The detail of and the performance against the contact is a matter for the trusts.
6 Feb 2006 : Column 990W
Mr. Byrne: The Department's guidance to parents on the first five years of their child's life, 'Birth to five' advises parents to enable their babies to experience a range of positions during waking hours. This is good for their development. Positional plagiocephaly is caused by consistent pressure applied to one part of a baby's skull over a period of time, typically while sleeping in one position. This is commonly remedied by encouraging the baby to adopt different postures while awake.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Food Standards Agency put in place to monitor compliance with the requirement for poultry inspection assistants appointed after 1 January to meet the new training and qualification requirements of the EU Hygiene Package. 
Caroline Flint: The Official Veterinarian (OV) in the plant is responsible for checking that slaughterhouse staff appointed as poultry inspection assistants have undergone formal training and external assessment and achieved the necessary qualification awarded by the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many poultry slaughterhouses have indicated to her Department that they wish the Meat Hygiene Services to replace poultry inspection assistants with official poultry meat hygiene inspectors after 1 January as a result of the EU Hygiene Package as it affects poultry inspection assistants' training and qualifications. 
Caroline Flint: In early November 2005, the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) surveyed all 109 licensed poultry slaughterhouses on their future intentions regarding the use of plant inspection assistants after 1 January 2006. 63 operators replied that they were using plant inspection assistants at the time.
11 operators indicated that they were considering changing their current inspection system. Of these, three confirmed that they intended to cease using plant inspection assistants and would require MHS staff to carry out post-mortem inspection, four were considering replacing plant inspection assistants with MHS staff and one was considering using MHS staff as emergency cover for plant inspection assistants. Three were proposing to introduce plant inspection assistants at their establishment.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes will be made to the training and qualifications arrangements for poultry inspection assistants after 1 January following the introduction of the EU Hygiene Package. 
Caroline Flint: Slaughterhouse staff appointed as poultry inspection assistants after 1 January 2006 are required to undergo formal training and pass the same examination as official auxiliaries in relation to the official controls they will actually perform.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment the Food Standards Agency has made of the public health implications of allowing transitional arrangements in the new EU Hygiene Package. 
In view of the more robust training requirements for plant inspection assistants (PIAs) contained in the regulations and reduced risks to food safety from British poultry meat, the Food Standards Agency's assessment of the transitional arrangements relating to PIAs is that there is no negative implication for public health.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether poultry inspection assistants in post prior to 1 January will be permitted to continue to inspect poultry meat without reference to the new training and qualifications framework in the new EU Hygiene Package under transitional arrangements. 
Caroline Flint: Existing plant inspection assistants (PIAs), in post prior 1 January 2006, can continue to assist the Official Veterinarian unless their performance falls below the requirements of the Regulation, in which case their authorisation will be withdrawn.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what training poultry inspection assistants in post before 1 January were required to undergo before they were permitted to inspect poultry meat. 
Caroline Flint: The training for plant inspection assistants was set out in Regulation 11 of the Poultry Meat, Farmed Game Bird Meat and Rabbit Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 (revoked on 31 December 2005). The training consisted of theoretical and practical experience of on-line post-mortem inspection under the supervision of the official veterinary surgeon.
The recommendation for theoretical training was 15 hours of instruction dependant upon the candidate's existing knowledge and the recommendation for on-line practical experience was 50 hours for the species they would be inspecting. This could vary depending on the number of species to be inspected and the previous experience of the candidate.
The contents of the training included gross pathology, leading to detention and control of unfit meat; animal welfare; anatomy; physiology and an understanding of relevant legislation and the Meat Hygiene Service's role in its enforcement.
6 Feb 2006 : Column 992W
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have been prosecuted under the Health Act 1999 for wrongful claims of free prescriptions in Gravesham in each year since 2000. 
Jane Kennedy: Since August 2001, a penalty charge system has been in place in respect of those falsely claming exemption to national health service pharmaceutical charges. This has resulted in a considerable increase in civil action being instigated for first time offenders with repeat offenders subsequently dealt with through criminal proceedings. 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.
Up to 31 March 2005, 160,000 penalty notices had been issued, with a further surcharge applied if the penalty charge was not settled within the given time limit. The total amount recovered up to 31 March is £2,950,000. These figures are national and are not broken down into regions as requested.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 14 December 2005, Official Report, column 2166W, on primary care trusts, if she will make it her policy not to require primary care trusts to (a) outsource and (b) market test services. 
Mr. Byrne: There is no central requirement for primary care trusts to outsource or market test services. We want the new primary care trusts (PCTs), not the existing strategic health authorities, to decide how best to manage their new responsibilities after reconfiguration.
Mr. Byrne: It is not the intention to encourage primary care trusts to reduce direct provision of services to a minimum. The Secretary of State made this clear in her statement to Parliament on 25 October 2005, stating:
We do not have a policy requirement or timetable for primary care trusts (PCTs) to divest themselves of provision. We will support PCTs whether or not they divest themselves of service provision, provided that what is being offered is genuinely best for local patient care.
6 Feb 2006 : Column 993W
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|