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Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures are in place to enable claims for compensation by those who have contracted asbestosis in the course of their work in the NHS. 
The ownership of buildings, previously used or currently used by the national health service may relate to strategic health authorities, NHS trusts, foundation trusts and primary care trusts. These are independent bodies and hence there is no standard procedure regarding the handling of claims for compensation by those who have contracted asbestosis in the course of their work in the NHS.
14 Feb 2006 : Column 2011W
Ms Rosie Winterton:
Assisted suicide is an offence under the Suicide Act. We have no plans to change the legislation in this area. The issues raised by Lord Joffe's Bill have always been dealt with as a matter of conscience and it is appropriate that Parliament should lead on debates of this nature and provide the forum where all shades of opinion can be heard.
14 Feb 2006 : Column 2012W
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average pay for (a) qualified audiologists and (b) audiology assistants in London hospitals was in the last year for which figures are available. 
Jane Kennedy: The Department does not hold the information in the format requested. However, the table shows the estimated average annual salary and earnings of consultant specialists in audiology and qualified and unqualified non-medical staff working in audiology employed by the national health service in the London Government office region as at August 2004.
|London Government office region as at August 2004||Estimated average annual salary (£)||Estimated average annual earnings (£)|
|Consultant Specialists in Audiological Medicine||75,500||82,700|
|Qualified Clinical Scientist (Grade A and B) Audiology||30,000||33,600|
|Qualified MTO/ Technician Audiology||24,800||27,500|
|Assistant Audiologists (unqualified)||13,900||16,500|
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 10 November 2005, Official Report, columns 664W, on avian influenza, what representations she has received about the adequacy of the escalation plans. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: It is important to be clear about the differences between seasonal influenza, avian influenza and pandemic influenza. Avian influenza is a disease which mainly affects birds, Seasonal influenza refers to the virus that circulates in the human population and causes widespread illness each winter. Pandemic influenza will only occur after an avian virus has mutated into a novel strain which can spread easily between humans and to which they do not have immunity.
We are working with the Intensive Care Society and other operational organisations in order to develop revised guidance against which local national health service emergency planners can assess their critical care plans for any outbreak of pandemic influenza.
Ms Rosie Winterton: It is important to be clear about the differences between seasonal influenza, avian influenza and pandemic influenza. Avian influenza is a disease which mainly affects birds. Seasonal influenza refers to the virus that circulates in the human population and causes widespread illness each winter. Pandemic influenza will only occur after an avian virus has mutated into a novel strain which can spread easily between humans and to which they do not have immunity.
The United Kingdom has had a national influenza pandemic plan since 1997 and was one of the first countries to publish a pandemic plan. This plan has been updated and the Government published the revised, UK Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan" on 19 October 2005. The revised plan outlines the actions that Government and other authorities are taking to prepare for a possible pandemic, and the actions that different organisations would take in the event of a pandemic to slow down the spread of infection and minimise disruption. The plan can be accessed on the Department's website at: www.dh.gov.uk/pandemicflu.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the charge per hour is for legal advice provided by Capsticks solicitors to the NHS in connection with defending clinical negligence claims. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 13 February 2006]: The agreed charge per hour for legal advice provided by all NHS Litigation Authority panel solicitors to the national health service in connection with defending clinical negligence claims is shown in the table. This rate is also the agreed rate for all panel firms who have approved offices in London.
|Defence fee per hour (Capsticks)||£|
|Other partners and/or 10 years post qualification experience||175|
|Solicitors under 10 years post qualification experience||155|
Mr. Byrne: The newly published White Paper Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services" is available in the Library and on the Department's website at: www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/12/74/59/04127459.pdf.
'It is estimated that there are 350 community hospitals in England, if we use the definition of a community hospital as 'a service which offers integrated health and social care and is supported by community-based professionals'.
However, the newly published White Paper, Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services" makes clear that community facilities should not be closed in response to short-term budgetary pressures that are not related to the viability of the community facility itself.
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government has taken to support the continued operation of community hospitals before the publication of the White Paper on Health and Social Care in the Community. 
The Department has been working with the Community Hospitals Association, which led to the launch of an online toolkit in October 2005. The toolkit is available on the Care Services Improvement Partnership's website at www.developingcommunityhospitals.org.uk and provides support to those people involved with the development of community hospitals.
14 Feb 2006 : Column 2014W
Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her oral statement of 30 January 2006, Official Report, columns 2138W, (1) on health and social care services, whether Bicester will be the location of one of the new generation of community hospitals with intermediate beds; 
(2) how many new community hospitals she expects will be built as part of the new generation of community hospitals; how many of these she expects will have intermediate beds; and what new money will be provided for the (a) construction and (b) running of new community hospitals. 
Mr. Byrne: As confirmed in the recent White Paper 'Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services', the Government fully intends to fulfil their manifesto commitment to develop a new generation of modern national health service community hospitals over the next five years. To make this possible an initial capital investment of £100 million to build, rebuild, or refurbish at least 50 community hospitals has been identified.
interested primary care trusts, where appropriate working with local authority partners, to bid for capital support for reinvestment in the new generation of community hospitals and smaller facilities offering local, integrated health and social care services. This will provide the opportunity to create many new community hospitals, as we have done with LIFT projects, and to expand services on existing community hospital sites if more appropriate. The details of the timing and the tender process will be published in a separate document in mid-2006."
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