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27 Feb 2006 : Column 470W—continued

Multiple Technology Process

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects the review of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's multiple technology process will take place. [52346]

Jane Kennedy: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE'S) approach to appraising multiple technologies is set out in its Guide to the Technology Appraisal Process", published April 2004. This document is available on NICE'S website for transparency at:

NICE consults formally with stakeholder organisations including those representing patients and carers, healthcare professionals and manufacturers approximately every three years before issuing an updated version, and NICE expects to review the multiple technology appraisal process in 2007. NICE recently consulted on its new single technology appraisal process, and will also consider whether it is appropriate to consult on any amendments to the multiple technology appraisal process in light of the responses received to consultation on the single technology appraisal process.
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National IT Programme

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the full lifecycle business case estimate is of the total cost of the national programme for IT, including the cost of local implementation. [51538]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 14 February 2006]: The value of contracts let for the original four core components of the programme amounts to £6.2 billion over ten years. Costs arising from investment by national health service organisations in local systems and hardware, training, and ensuring compliance of local systems with programme-delivered systems will be met from reprioritising existing baseline spending on information technology and savings accrued from national purchasing agreements. These, and the cost of central expenditure on centrally-managed projects and services connected with the programme and on running NHS connecting for health, are dependent on the outcome of future spending reviews. Ongoing costs of maintaining and upgrading the assets delivered through the national programme will continue to accrue thereafter.


Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps her Department is taking to increase awareness of neuroblastoma; [47415]

(2) what treatments for neuroblastoma are available on the NHS. [47427]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department is not currently undertaking any specifics steps to raise awareness of neuroblastoma, which is most commonly found in very young children.

However, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published Referral Guidelines for Suspected Cancers" in June 2005 to help primary care health professionals to identify those patients who are most likely to have cancer and who require urgent assessment by a specialist. This guideline includes a section on cancers in children and young people including neuroblastoma.

In addition, the NICE guidance Improving Outcomes in Children and Young People with Cancer" published in 2005 also makes reference to neuroblastoma and the availability of practice guidelines for treating this cancer. The National Cancer Director has established a group of major stakeholders to advise on, and facilitate the implementation of this guidance.

The type of treatment given for neuroblastoma depends on the age of the child, the size and position of the tumour and how far it has spread. It might include surgery, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants or radiotherapy.

NHS Access (Foreign Visitors)

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the system for regulating foreign visitors' access to NHS treatment; for what reason there is no obligation for foreign patients to produce documentary evidence of entitlement to free care before receiving emergency NHS treatment; and whether she plans to change this system. [46425]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: Anyone who is not ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom is subject to the provisions of the national health service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended.

These regulations, place a legal obligation on national health service trusts to establish the residency status of patients and to levy charges for any treatment provided if they are found to be a chargeable overseas visitor.

However, the NHS is fundamentally a humanitarian service, and no one in need of emergency hospital treatment will ever be turned away just because they may be required to pay. Guidance on implementation of the hospital charging regime makes clear that treatment considered by a clinician to be immediately necessary should always be provided, with issues around the patient's chargeable status resolved later.

NHS Direct

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many calls NHS Direct received in (a) 2003, (b) 2004 and (c) 2005. [44653]

Mr. Byrne: The number of calls answered by NHS Direct in 2003; 2004; and 2005 are shown in the following table.

Calendar yearCalls answered

NHS Finance

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her statement of 15 November 2005, Official Report, column 843, on NHS finance, what evidence was used to support her statement that the Government are undertaking the largest hospital building programme in the history of the NHS. [53086]

Jane Kennedy: The first major hospital building programme in the national health service resulted from the 1962 Hospital Plan for England and Wales" launched by Mr. Enoch Powell, the then Minister of Health. This advocated the network of large district general hospitals and the commitment to 90 new and 134 substantially modernised hospitals. The budget for this 10-year plan was set at just over £500 million, equivalent to about £4.7 billion in today's prices. Detailed records on the precise cost and milestone dates for each scheme are not immediately available centrally for schemes before 1980. The actual implementation ran into well documented difficulties resulting from an underestimation of the capital and revenue costs of this new generation of hospitals and the plan was subject to several revisions; for example in 1965 the number of major reconstructions was scaled down from 134 to 59. The date by which the plan's targets would be met were also repeatedly put back and further affected by the public spending cuts of the 1970's. Schemes originally proposed in 1962 were still being completed—or
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partially completed—in the 1980s and 90s. In reality only a third were ever fully completed, a third partially so and the rest not started at all.

From 1980, 10 schemes with values of £50 million or more, in real terms, proceeded to construction. Since 1997, 19 hospital schemes worth over £50 million given the go ahead after that date have become operational with a further 17 under construction, with a total capital value of over £5 billion. Just as importantly, the great majority are all one phase projects. 43 more schemes are in development.

So in terms of the number of major hospital schemes completed, the number of years over which this has been achieved and their total value, the period since 1997 has seen the largest sustained hospital building programme since the NHS was founded.

NHS Life Check

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she plans to take to ensure that those people who would most benefit from the NHS Life Check proposed in the Health and Social Care White Paper (a) take them up and (b) have their cases followed up. [51340]

Caroline Flint: Consultation with people in areas with the worst health and deprivation (spearhead areas) will be an integral part of the development of NHS Life Check. Development and evaluation of the new service will cover both self-assessment and follow up support.

NHS Neurologists

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to increase the number of NHS neurologists in Shropshire. [49057]

Ms Rosie Winterton: It is the responsibility of primary care trusts and strategic health authorities to analyse their local situation and develop plans, in liaison with their local national health service trusts and primary care providers, to deliver high quality NHS services and take action to recruit the appropriate staff required to deliver these services.

A range of national initiatives are in place to help increase the NHS workforce, including the number of neurologists. These initiatives include improving pay and conditions, encouraging the NHS to become a better, more flexible and diverse employer, help with accessing child care, increasing training, attracting returners and running national and international recruitment campaigns.

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