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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received regarding plans to regionalise ambulance services provision in East Sussex; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: The consultation for the proposed configuration of national health service ambulance trusts in England is being led by strategic health authorities (SHAs). SHAs will coordinate consultation locally and ensure that relevant authorities and interested parties are able to express their views. A full analysis of the responses received by the SHAs and the Department will be undertaken at the end of the consultation. The consultation will conclude on 22 March 2006.
Configuration of NHS Ambulance Trusts in England: Consultation Document" sets out the proposed new ambulance trusts on which we are currently consulting. This includes the proposal for a new trust (referred to in the document as South East A) which would comprise the areas covered by the current Sussex, Kent and Surrey ambulance trusts, if the proposals are agreed. However, no decision has been made, or will be, until the consultation has concluded.
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A copy of Configuration of NHS Ambulance Trusts in England: Consultation Document" is available in the Library. A copy of my ministerial statement on this consultation, dated 14 December 2005, Official Report, column 152WS is also available in the Library.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the impact that the merger of Gloucestershire Ambulance Service NHS Trust with Avon and Wiltshire ambulance trusts will have on emergency coverage in Forest of Dean constituency. 
Caroline Flint: The merger of Gloucestershire Ambulance Service National Health Service Trust with Avon and Wiltshire ambulance trusts is part of wider process to create fewer, larger ambulance trusts across England. This is intended to reduce management costs and divert savings to front-line services. This is also intended to create teams capable of meeting rising demands by developing new ways of working for community paramedic and emergency care practitioner services which could be particularly beneficial for rural areas such as the Forest of Dean.
Caroline Flint: The Department acknowledges the valuable support that community responders offer to ambulance services locally. Clinical evidence proves conclusively that early defibrillation and resuscitation saves more lives, and therefore co-responders trained in life support, first aid and equipped with defibrillators help to ensure that patients receive advanced life support as soon as possible, improving outcomes for those patients.
It is a local matter for ambulance trusts to decide whether or how they use community volunteer responders or other schemes such as community paramedics, in conjunction with the range of ambulance vehicles to ensure all patients get the most appropriate and timely response.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the progress of negotiations between Capio Health Care and the Ashford and St. Peters hospitals NHS trust for an independent treatment centre at Ashford hospital (Middlesex). 
Caroline Flint [holding answer 6 February 2006]: Agreement in principle has been reached between Capio Healthcare UK and sponsors regarding the provision of an independent sector treatment centre at the Ashford hospital. Legal negotiations are now taking place to proceed towards financial close expected by the end of March 2006.
Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the impact on NHS patients on low incomes of charged-for bedside telephone and entertainment systems; and if she will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: The new bedside telephone and entertainment systems represent an additional and enhanced service to what already exists, and consequently attract a charge. Access to free televisions in day rooms and hospital payphones still exist as an alternative.
Discounts apply for some patient groups, such as the elderly and long-term sick, some of whom are patients on low incomes. However, there are no automatic exemption arrangements for patients on low incomes.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will reduce call charges to patients for the use of hospital bedside telephones by providing for the NHS to pay for some or all of the service; 
Caroline Flint: The Chief Medical Officer's national blood transfusion committee (NBTC) promotes and encourages the safe and appropriate use of blood. This includes looking at alternatives to blood transfusions using techniques such as intra-operative cell salvage. The NBTC does not recommend pre-deposit autologous donation except in special circumstances, for example where a patient has multiple rare or multiple antibodies.
We do not have data on the cost of intra-operative cell salvage to the national health service. The National Blood Service, part of NHS Blood and Transplant currently charges hospitals £114.71 for a pre-deposit autologous donation. This charge reflects the cost associated with the collection and testing of the blood and not any costs a hospital may incur through using pre-deposit autologous donation.
The National Blood Service (NBS), part of NHS Blood and Transplant, is responsible for the collection and supply of blood in England and north Wales. The NBS collected the following amount of blood in the last three financial years:
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|Financial year||Units of blood collected|
Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to ensure that every woman newly diagnosed in England with early stage breast cancer is tested for HER2 status. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer director, is working with cancer networks to ensure that testing arrangements are put in place to enable women who require it to be tested for HER2 status. This work is ongoing.
Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of newly diagnosed women with early stage breast cancer (a) in England and (b) living in the Northern Cancer Network area were prospectively tested for HER2 positivity in the latest period for which figures are available. 
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