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8 Feb 2006 : Column 1310W—continued

Drug Treatment Programmes

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people involved in providing drug treatment programmes have (a) resigned and (b) taken leave for medical reasons in each of the last five years. [47723]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Financial Targets

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS trusts have been investigated by her Department over the last 12 months due to failure to meet financial targets; and if she will make a statement. [47464]

Mr. Byrne: The performance management of national health service trusts is the responsibility of strategic health authorities (SHAs). There are continuous discussions between the Department and SHAs regarding the financial performance of NHS trusts within their health economy. The Department has not carried out specific investigations of NHS trusts due to a failure to meet financial targets, but it has commissioned an external assessment by KPMG of the financial position in 48 NHS trusts.

Genetic Testing

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which staff groups specialise in genetic testing; how many staff in these groups there were in (a) 1997 and (b) the latest date for which figures are available; and how many full-time equivalent posts those figures represent. [44734]

Mr. Byrne: Information on genetics staff in England for the specified years is shown in the following table.
National health service hospital and community health services: genetics staff in England by level as at 30 September each specified year

Full-time equivalentHeadcountFull-time equivalentHeadcount
All medical genetics staff94121149188
Clinical genetics87106142180
Clinical cytogenetics and molecular genetics71588
All non-medical genetics staffn/an/a607656
Qualified genetics staffn/an/a570610
Unqualified genetics staffn/an/a3746

n/a = not available.
Health and Social Care Information Centre Non-Medical Workforce Census
Health and Social Care Information Centre Medical and Dental Workforce Census

Information prior to 2004 for non-medical genetics staff is unavailable as this was the first year that detailed information on healthcare scientists was collected.

Health Service Initiatives (Costs)

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was budgeted for the (a) general practitioner contract, (b) consultant contract and (c) Agenda for Change; and how much each has cost to implement. [38379]

Mr. Byrne: For the General Medical Service contract, forecast spend based on available primary care trust (PCT) data is shown in the table.
Forecast spend against PCT allocated resources

£ billion
Financial yearAllocationOutturnOver
2004–05 (26)
2005–06 (26)

(26) Forecast outturn, i.e. still subject to finalised PCT accounts.

The consultant contract was costed on a methodology agreed with the British Medical Association and on that basis the estimated cost of the contract, and the funding, was £133 million in 2003–04 rising to £250 million in 2005–06. In late 2004 we adjusted the tariff for 2005–06 by £150 million in response to suggestions from the
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service that this was the further cost pressure. However, our national survey, published in February 2005, indicated that the actual additional cost to the service was around £90 million.

The agreed funding envelope for agenda for change was £480 million in 2004–05 rising to £950 million in 2005–06.

There are local concerns based on monitoring in a number of sample sites that initial costs may have been higher than expected in some places, and follow-up work is currently being carried out on the costs of implementation within each Strategic Health Authority to test this. The agenda for change funding envelope is due to increase in 2006–07 and 2007–08 and it is too soon to conclude whether or not the overall envelope will be exceeded.

Health Worker Pay

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what account is taken of differences between the value of NHS pension provision and that of workers in comparable jobs in the private sector in setting the pay of health workers. [24815]

Mr. Byrne: The pay levels for most national health service staff is determined by independent pay review bodies after they receive evidence from Government and staff side trade unions. When making recommendations the review bodies are able to take into account pensions benefits.

Heart Disease

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in (a) England and (b) Forest of Dean constituency suffered from heart disease in each of the last five years; and what the mortality rate was in each year. [36869]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The number of people diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD) is collected at primary care trust (PCT) level, and is not held by constituency. The number of patients diagnosed with CHD identified by general practitioner (GP) practices in West Gloucestershire PCT (which includes residents in Forest of Dean constituency) in 2004–05 was 7,908. The number of patients diagnosed with CHD identified by GP practices in England in 2004–05 was 1,893,184. Figures are not available for previous years.

Death rates (per 100,000 population standardised to the European Standard Population) from coronary heart disease in England and the local authority of Forest of Dean

EnglandForest of Dean

1. Based on deaths registered in each calendar year, selected using the original underlying cause. Cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD9) for 2000, and the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD10) for 2001–04 (codes for coronary heart disease: ICD9 410–414; ICD10 120–125).
2. Figures have been provided for Forest of Dean local authority as population data by parliamentary constituency are unavailable.
Death registrations and population estimates, Office for National Statistics

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Hospital Bed Occupancy

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the optimal level of bed occupancy in NHS hospitals. [45514]

Mr. Byrne: Evidence from the national beds inquiry (February 2000) and elsewhere suggests that the optimal bed occupancy rate is around 82 to 85 per cent. These figures however, are merely a guideline and it is up to the national health service locally to decide how best to manage their services. Some hospitals operate at occupancy levels in excess of these levels while still delivering a high quality of care, patient safety and the key access targets.


Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of recent evidence on the effectiveness of Tamiflu; and what effect this has had on her Department's planning for an influenza pandemic. [45381]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 24 January 2006]: We are aware of the recent review of antiviral effectiveness published in The Lancet 1 and have given it full consideration. Studies in the review are specific to seasonal flu and do not affect our plan for pandemic flu. The findings to date are of little public health significance as the change to make the strain more resistant to antivirals also makes it less infectious.

Tamiflu was chosen for the United Kingdom stockpile on the basis of independent expert advice that reflected its efficacy and ease of administration. Internationally, this is agreed as the product of choice. Our antiviral strategy is kept under constant review and we are looking carefully at alternatives as a possible back-up to Tamiflu.

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