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9 Feb 2006 : Column 1475W—continued


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidelines she has (a) given to primary care staff on equitable and high quality treatment for patients living with HIV and (b) provided to GPs on best practice on HIV testing, referrals and information. [48476]

Caroline Flint: We endorsed the publication of the 'Recommended standards for NHS HIV' services in 2003, which includes a chapter on primary health care for people with HIV. This document was produced by the Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health, which has also produced the booklet 'HIV in Primary Care'—an essential guide to HIV for general practitioners, practice nurses and other members of the primary health care team.

The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV also have guidelines on HIV testing in primary care.

The National HIV Nurses Association is due to publish a set of HIV nursing competencies in 2006.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will increase resources for HIV testing in England; and if she will bring forward proposals to enable and regulate home testing for the infection. [49234]

Caroline Flint: Resources for HIV testing in England are not centrally allocated, and are included in primary care trust (PCT) baselines. It is for PCTs to determine the level of resources to meet the needs of their populations.

We have no current plans to update the HIV Testing Kits and Services Regulations 1992. We do, however, keep policy on HIV testing under ongoing review.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to launch a new advertising campaign on the transmission of HIV/AIDS. [49797]

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Caroline Flint: Awareness of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, will be addressed through a new sexual health media campaign, announced as part of the Choosing Health" White Paper to modernise and transform sexual health in England. The campaign will focus on the risks of unprotected sex and the benefits of using condoms to avoid the risk of sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

A major aim for the new sexual health campaign is normalising condom use and implicitly this will contribute to reducing the risk of HIV. The proposed new campaign is additional and complementary to, existing HIV awareness campaigns for those most at risk, in partnership with key voluntary sector organisations.

Hospital Beds

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many hospital beds there were per capita in each health authority area in England for each year for which records are available; [47396]

(2) what the average bed occupancy rate was in each health authority area in England for each year for which records are available. [47397]

Jane Kennedy: Data for the years 2000–01 and 2001–02 are shown in the table. Health authorities (HA) were abolished in 2002 and, therefore, data after 2001–02 are not available on an HA basis.

Data prior to 2000–01 could be provided only at a disproportionate cost. However, trust level data on bed occupancy are available on the Department's website at: Data prior to 1996–97 are not available.
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Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on which groups deemed at-risk by the Chief Medical Officer for the purposes of the influenza immunisation programme the Health Protection Agency does not require reports on uptake rates. [39362]

Caroline Flint: Uptake data are not collected by residential care home or those who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 January 2006, Official Report, column 136W, to question 32905 on influenza vaccination, if she will include in the groups recommended to receive influenza vaccination those people who are at greater risk of dying from respiratory disease because they are severely mentally ill with psychosis. [42038]

Caroline Flint: The groups recommended to receive influenza vaccination are based on clinical risk and are kept under review by the joint committee for vaccination and immunisation (JCVI). JCVI concluded in 2004 that there was insufficient evidence to show that people with mental illness were at an increased risk from flu.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what support she has offered to the Royal College of General Practitioners' Influenza Surveillance Unit beyond April. [43560]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department intends to continue provide funding for surveillance of influenza by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Birmingham Research Unit in 2006–07 and 2007–08. The level of funding to be provided has not yet been determined and will be subject of a forthcoming meeting between Departmental officials and the RCGP.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of possible levels of sickness absence and absenteeism in (a) the NHS and (b) other key services during an influenza pandemic. [43561]

Ms Rosie Winterton: As with many factors during a pandemic, the level of absenteeism will depend significantly on the nature of the pandemic virus and this cannot be known until after the virus emerges.

Over the period of a pandemic, which could be around three to four months, the proportion of the workforce who will take time off due to illness will be similar to the overall clinical attack rate. For example, if the overall clinical attack rate is 25 per cent., then a quarter of the workforce is likely to be ill over the three to four month period. The number absent at any particular time will be less, but will probably peak over two to three weeks.

The absenteeism rate is unlikely to be uniform across all sectors nor is it likely to occur at the same time in each company, sector or region. The level of absenteeism is likely to be dependent on the size of the organisation, the type of industry and the personal circumstances of the workforce.
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On the national health service in particular, there is ongoing modelling work in this area to take account of the special circumstances of health care workers. Preliminary results indicate that the picture would be broadly the same as for other organisations, however, work is still in progress.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 11 January 2006, Official Report, column 729W, on influenza, when her Department's research to which she refers began; which bodies are conducting the research; when she expects the research to be completed; if she will place a copy of the research in the Library when completed; whether she expects to take a decision on the routine immunisation of those aged 50 and over in time for the 2006–07 winter flu immunisation programme; and if she will make a statement. [44243]

Caroline Flint: The Health Protection Agency's (HPA) centre for infections has carried out studies to provide estimates of the burden of disease associated with flu in all age groups. These studies included estimates of the impact of vaccinating young children against flu on the burden of disease associated with flu in all age groups.

These estimates have been obtained by developing an age-structured deterministic transmission dynamic model. This work will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in due course.

The main findings were presented at a meeting of the influenza subgroup of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on 8 September 2005, the minutes of which is available on the Department's website at:

A paper about the effects of universal vaccination of children against influenza, written by a group that includes HPA staff, local and regional services, has been published recently in a peer-reviewed journal 1 .

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received on the effectiveness of stockpiling (a) Relenza and (b) M2 inhibitors to prepare the NHS for tackling an influenza pandemic. [45516]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Departmental officials are actively reviewing the antiviral strategy in the context of emerging data and we are looking carefully at other antivirals as a possible back-up to oseltamivir.

The Department has been approached by the manufacturer of Relenza in relation to supply of that product for pandemic preparedness. There are practical issues to consider concerning use of Relenza during a pandemic, notably that the product is not licensed for prevention of influenza or for use in children and has to be administered via inhalation.
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No decision has been made on whether to stockpile alternative antivirals, including M2 inhibitors, however, the Department is keeping its pandemic antiviral strategy under constant review and this remains an option.

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