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2 Mar 2006 : Column 923W—continued

Milton Keynes PCT

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects a decision to be made on the future of the Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust. [54877]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Local consultations on the boundary changes began on 14 December 2005, running for 14 weeks until 22 March. It is anticipated that an announcement on new primary care trusts will be made in late May following the consideration of recommendations to Secretary of State, by an independent external panel, on the strategic health authority consultation reports.


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to ensure that the standard of care for patients with myeloma in Hereford is the same as for patients being treated in Wales and Scotland. [49869]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In 2003, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published 'Improving Outcomes in Haematological Cancers'. This guidance is designed to ensure services for patients with haematological cancers are consistent across England and Wales.

In Scotland, The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network produces similar guidance for use within NHS Scotland.

The Department and the National Assembly for Wales have also asked NICE to appraise velcade for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Velcade is one of the first five drugs to be appraised under NICE'S new single topic appraisal process and guidance is expected in mid-2006.

The Department have made it clear that funding for specific treatments should not be withheld simply because guidance from NICE is unavailable. In these circumstances, we expect primary care trusts to take full account of available evidence when reaching funding decisions.

NHS Dialysis Treatment

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients in (a) Leicester and (b) England receive NHS dialysis treatment. [49605]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: Data from the last published report of the 'UK Renal Registry of the Renal Association' show that on 31 December 2003, 509 people were receiving national health service dialysis in Leicester.

The most recent complete data available for England, from a national survey carried out for the Department by the UK Renal Registry of the Renal Association, shows that on 31 December 2002 there were 16,394 adult patients receiving NHS dialysis treatment. There were 214 patients receiving NHS dialysis treatment in United Kingdom paediatric renal units.

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the infection rate was for patients receiving NHS dialysis treatment in the last period for which figures are available. [49606]

Jane Kennedy: National surveillance of healthcare associated infections, including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteraemia, is undertaken by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), based on data supplied by the national health service. Data specifically relating to the infection rate for patients receiving dialysis treatment is not available. However, data showing the MRSA bacteraemia rates per acute trust is available on the Department's website at

NHS Litigation Authority Panel

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether solicitors' firms on the NHS Litigation Authority panel (a) are subject to audits and (b) have their bills reviewed; to what extent they are subject to quality assessment; and whether standards are set for firms to meet to gain a place on the panel. [54901]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 1 March 2006]: The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) maintains two panels of solicitors, the first specialising in clinical negligence claims and the second in non-clinical claims.

In addition to demonstrating technical ability, panel solicitors must meet specific audit criteria set by the NHSLA. Firms on both NHSLA panels are regularly and formally audited. The NHSLA audit the work undertaken for them by the panel solicitors and the firms all have their own internal control structures, some utilising external consultants. In addition, as part of their annual audit of the NHSLA, the National Audit Office comments on costs and cost ratios.

All cases are overseen by experienced NHSLA case managers who look at individual bills, costs to damages ratios and the ratio of defence to claimant costs, both on individual cases and in the aggregate. The NHSLA conduct ad hoc reviews of panel solicitors' work in-house and hold quarterly review meetings with the partners at the panel solicitors.

Non-medical Professional Regulation

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects to publish the findings of the Foster Review of non-medical professional regulation; and if she will make a statement. [48628]

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Jane Kennedy: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley) on 13 February 2006, Official Report, column 1765W.

Parliamentary Questions

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she will answer the question tabled by the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham, on 31 October 2005, reference 24444, on immunisation of people with severe mental illnesses against influenza. [47235]

Ms Rosie Winterton: A reply was given to the hon. Member on 16 February 2006, Official Report, columns 2313–14W.

Pharmacist Fees

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 13 February 2006, Official Report, columns 1759–64W, on pharmacist fees, what the difference is between the generic reimbursement prices and the prices at which (a) Simvastatin, (b) Lisinopril and (c) Amlodipine could be purchased by pharmacists and dispensing doctors; how much would be recovered by a discount inquiry on that basis for each drug; and if she will break down the information in table one by price category for each drug. [53693]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 28 February 2006]: As stated in my reply on 13 February 2006, Official Report, columns 1760–63, simvastatin, lisinopril and amlodipine are included in the new category M in the drug tariff which was introduced in April 2005. The new arrangements for the community pharmacy contractual framework, together with category M are managed to deliver funding for the contractual framework of £1.766 billion in 2005–06. Of this sum, £0.5 billion is derived from margins on medicines retained by community pharmacy contractors and as a result market prices available to contractors will in most cases be less than reimbursement prices paid to contractors. The Department has arrangements in place agreed under the pharmacy contractual framework to ensure that the contract sum is delivered. This is based on information from a sample of pharmacy contractors submitted on a commercial-in-confidence basis.

Prescription Charges

Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of prescriptions were exempt from prescription charges in 2004–05; and how much was raised from prescription charges in 2004–05. [54654]

Jane Kennedy: In 2004–05, 87 per cent. of prescription items dispensed in England were exempt from prescription charges. This is based on 691.9 million items dispensed in England of which 602.2 million were dispensed free of charge, which includes prescribed contraceptives and items personally administered and 89.8 million which were charged at the point of supply or through a pre-payment certificate.

For the same period, the income raised from prescription charges was £422.4 million for England. This is in respect of charges collected at point of supply and fees for pre-payment certificates.
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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to add to the NHS list of medical exemptions to prescription charges; and if she will make a statement. [55020]

Jane Kennedy: We have no plans to extend the existing list of medical conditions that give exemption from prescription charges.

The extensive exemption and change remission arrangements mean that 87 per cent. of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge. As a result, many people with medical conditions not on the exempt list already get free prescriptions on other grounds. Anyone not exempt may claim help through the national health service low income scheme or purchase a prescription prepayment certificate.

Prescription charges are currently being looked at by the Health Select Committee as part of its inquiry into NHS charges.

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