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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1790W—continued

Pesticide Residue

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the (a) incidence and (b) levels of pesticide residue in (i) orange and (ii) lemon peel. [41918]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 16 January 2006]: The results of official surveillance for pesticide residues in food, published by the Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC), show that most orange and lemon samples contain residues and that some of these residues are largely in the peel. PRC surveillance reports can be found on the Pesticides Safety Directorate's website at: The Food Standards Agency advises that the residue levels currently found in oranges and lemons do not present a significant concern for consumer health.

Pigeon-transmitted Disease (South Manchester)

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many reported cases there have been of (a) avian alveolitis, or pigeon fancier's lung, and (b) psittacosis transmitted from pigeons to humans via droppings in south Manchester in the last five years. [46170]

Mr. Byrne: Avian alveolitis, also known as pigeon fancier's lung is caused by an allergic reaction to birds (pigeons and other species). As it is not an infectious disease, data on the number of cases are not collected centrally.

Psittacosis is an infection, caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci, that is acquired from birds (pigeons and other species), though not necessarily via droppings.

It is not possible to provide a breakdown of the data for south Manchester. The number of cases in England and Wales in the last five years is as follows:
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Number of cases

(69) Provisional figures
Health Protection Agency

In 2005, infection was most frequently reported from the north west health region of England.

Practice-based Commissioning

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what safeguards her Department is putting in place against conflicts of interest in practice-based commissioning; [44922]

(2) whether general practitioners will be able to commission services provided by themselves under practice-based commissioning. [44927]

Mr. Byrne: General practitioners are able to provide services under practice based commissioning. Making Practice Based Commissioning a Reality—Technical Guidance" (February 2005), makes it clear that where practices or localities are both a provider and a commissioner of services, it is very important that there are no actual or perceived conflicts of interest. Patients should also be given a choice of other providers of that service and should not feel pressured to choose the practice as provider.

The roles and responsibilities of primary care trusts (PCTs) and practices under practice based commissioning was set out in Annexe D of Health reform in England: update and next steps" (December 2005). This states that PCTs continue to negotiate and hold contracts under practice based commissioning.

In addition, the Department has recently released updated practice based commissioning guidance. Practice based commissioning: achieving universal coverage" (January 2006) reinforces the need for robust arrangements for agreeing contracts for services provided under practice based commissioning.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the cost of adding cystic fibrosis to the list of diseases which give rise to exemption from prescription charges. [49636]

Jane Kennedy: Based on figures of the number of adult cystic fibrosis sufferers, not currently entitled to free prescriptions, provided by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust we estimate the cost of lost prescription revenue would be around £100,000, based on the assumption that all currently have a prescription pre-payment certificate.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will undertake a public consultation on the list of diseases that give rise to exemption from prescription charges. [49647]

Jane Kennedy: We have no plans to undertake a consultation on the list of medical conditions that confer free prescriptions.
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Government policy is to help those who may have difficulty paying charges. The current exemption and charge remission arrangements are intended to ensure that no one need to be deterred from obtaining any necessary medication on financial grounds. Consequently 87 per cent. of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge.

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many personal prescriptions have been prescribed in each year since 2000, broken down by primary care trusts; how much revenue has been raised from prescription charges in each year since 2000; and if she will make a statement. [41101]

Jane Kennedy: The number of prescription items prescribed in general practitioner practices in England and dispensed in the community at primary care trust level from 2001 to 2004 has been placed in the Library. Earlier data are not available. The Department holds no data on private prescriptions.

Income raised from prescription charges in England for each year since 2000 is contained in the Department's published resource accounts:
£ million

Figures represent revenue raised from when a charge is paid at point of dispensing and income raised from pre-payment certificates.

Press Coverage

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions since 1 April 2003 she has complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the coverage in the press of (a) Ministers or officials and (b) her Department; and how many of these complaints were upheld. [47089]

Mr. Byrne: There have been no occasions since April 1 2003 that the Secretary of State for Health has complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the coverage in the press of Ministers, officials or the Department.

Primary Care Trusts

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the Government introduced primary care trusts; and what the cost of setting them up was. [31718]

Mr. Byrne: Primary care trusts (PCTs) were primarily introduced in order to bring together, primary and community care services for the benefit of patients. Further changes in the configuration of many PCTs are now required and are now the subject of local consultations.

The Department does not hold information on the cost of setting up primary care trusts.
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Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2005, Official Report, column 744W, on primary care trusts, what evidence she has received of primary care trusts underspending against their enhanced services expenditure floor in the 2005–06 financial year; and whether underspends by primary care trusts in 2005–06 will be reinvested in 2006–07. [48632]

Mr. Byrne: Quarterly financial monitoring reports from primary care trusts (PCTs) indicate that overall investment in enhanced services by PCTs in 2005–06 could be greater than the national planned investment.

Investment in enhanced services in 2006–07 will be a matter decided upon and managed by PCTs, in a way that makes best use of resources in meeting locally agreed priorities.

Public Information Leaflets

Mr. Ian Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what method is used to calculate the number of Department of Health public information leaflets distributed to general practitioner practices and other health service sites. [44038]

Mr. Byrne: The marketing strategy that accompanies the production of any public information leaflet determines how that leaflet is distributed. Typically for campaign literature, between 50 and 200 leaflets will be distributed to individual general practitioner (GP) surgeries complete with an extra copies order form.

A network of national health service health promotion professionals, on a monthly basis, take receipt of public information leaflets that they have ordered on a cyclical delivery from our central distribution outlet.

In addition to these channels, the Department also has a contract with the waiting room information service; who distribute a range of health care leaflets to GP surgeries using demographic information to target surgeries with the highest patient throughput. An analysis of the uptake of leaflets is presented to the Department on a quarterly basis.

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