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28 Mar 2006 : Column 968W—continued

NHS Professionals

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost of NHS Professionals has been since its inception. [48077]

Mr. Byrne: The Government have invested about £50 million in NHS Professionals since its establishment as a special health authority on 1 January 2004.

NHS Professionals is making a significant contribution to reducing the cost of temporary staff that any large-scale health care system inevitably needs.

Operations (Waiting Times)

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Prime Minister's Oral Statement of 8 March 2006, Official Report, column 813, what the evidential basis is for the Prime Minister's statement that no one waits more than six months for an operation. [62087]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 27 March.

Quality and Outcomes Framework

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 12 December 2005, Official Report, column 1819W, on the Quality and Outcomes Framework, when she expects the University of Manchester national primary care research and development centre's evaluation of the impact of the Quality and Outcomes Framework on quality of patient care to be published. [58639]

Mr. Byrne: The national primary care research and development centre research project to assess the impact of the Quality and Outcomes Framework on quality of patient care involves a series of rounds of data collection. Analysis has now begun on the 2005 data. Following a process of quality assurance, the results are expected to be published in late summer.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what definition her Department uses of (a) sexual and (b) reproductive health; and if she will make a statement. [60854]

Caroline Flint: The Department aims to work to a comprehensive and holistic model of sexual and reproductive health as described in the 'National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV' (2001) as follows:

This holistic definition of sexual health is endorsed by the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV 1 .

For the purposes of implementing national sexual health policy we consider that it includes programmes of work covering genito-urinary medicine (GUM) services, sexual health promotion and prevention of
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sexual ill health, including HIV prevention, sexual health diagnoses and treatment in non-GUM settings, contraception services and termination of pregnancy.

Mr. Simon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the priority her Department gives to improving access to sexual health services. [53176]

Caroline Flint: Sexual health was identified as a key priority in the public health White Paper, Choosing Health", backed by major new investment of £300 million over three years and improved performance management to ensure delivery at local level. In particular, we are monitoring the progress towards targets to reduce the level of new infections of gonorrhoea, as a marker for all sexually transmitted infections, to ensure patients have access to genito-urinary medicine clinics within 48 hours by 2008 and numbers of screens undertaken in the chlamydia screening programme. These improved performance measures, should significantly strengthen the incentive for local investment and service modernisation.

In addition, the Operating Framework for 2006/7 for the NHS in England" was published on 26 January. This sets out six specific service priorities for 2006–07 on which there will be a particular focus and are identified as a priority for action. One of the six is sexual health and access to genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics: to deliver the 2006–07 local delivery plan trajectories so that by 2008 everyone referred to a GUM clinic should have an appointment within 48 hours. This sends a clear message about the need to invest in GUM access and sexual health more broadly, and will support service re-engineering and modernisation.


Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to ensure that local authorities have sufficient resources from 2006–07 in order to enforce effectively the proposed ban on smoking in public places. [60467]

Caroline Flint: Following the commitment in the White Paper, Choosing Health" that

Departmental officials are in discussion with the Local Government Association and other key stakeholders on the detail of what resources will be needed. It is our intention that appropriate resources be in place to ensure smooth introduction of the smoke-free legislation.

Strategic Health Authorities

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total cost of (a) replacing health authorities with primary care trusts and (b) replacing NHS regional offices with strategic health authorities was at 2005–06 prices. [42969]

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Mr. Byrne: The costs of establishing strategic health authorities and primary care trusts were met from within the financial allocations to the health authorities and are therefore not identifiable.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the written answer of 9 January 2006, Official Report, column 170W, on strategic health authorities, if she will publish the six-month forecast 2005–06 year-end financial position of each strategic health authority area. [60780]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 21 March 2006, Official Report, columns 273–74W.

Terence Higgins Trust

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding her Department provides to the Terence Higgins trust. [52280]

Caroline Flint: The Terrence Higgins trust currently receives £2.025 million in funding from the Department.

Torbay Hospital

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects to make a decision on the proposals for rebuilding Torbay hospital. [61100]

Caroline Flint: The full business case (FBC) for this scheme has been prepared and submitted to South West Peninsula strategic health authority (SHA) for approval. Following publication of The NHS in England: the operating framework for 2006–07" on 26 January, South Devon Healthcare national health service trust will now need to revalidate the approval parameters for the scheme by responding to a range of questions from the Department concerning factors such as long-term affordability, assumptions on efficiency gains and income growth, liquidity, activity shift and reference cost.

The trust will then need to have its conclusions ratified by the Department before proceeding. Departmental officials will shortly be writing to all trusts with private finance initiative schemes explaining how this process will proceed.

Trans Fats

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether she has assessed the merits of placing a legalmaximum on the level of trans fats in food in England; [60443]

(2) whether her Department (a) has made and (b) plans to make an assessment of (i) the technological feasibility of replacing trans fats in food with less harmful fats and (ii) the likely costs to the food production industry that would result; [60513]

(3) whether her Department (a) has made and (b) plans to make an assessment of the (i) potential effects on levels of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, omega-3 nutritional status, pre-eclampsia and atopic disorders and (ii) general public health effects of the imposition of legal maximums on the level of trans fats in food. [60515]

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Caroline Flint: In 1994, the committee on medical aspects of food policy (COMA) reviewed the evidence on the adverse effects of trans unsaturated fatty acids (TFA) on coronary heart disease risk and recommended that average intakes should not exceed 2 per cent. total energy. In 1986–87 average intakes were 2 per cent. total energy and by 2000–01 this had reduced to an average intake of 1.1 per cent. total energy. Intakes of saturated fat, however, at 13.4 per cent. are higher than the COMA recommendation of 11 per cent. The Government's priority therefore is to reduce saturated fat intake, and action to encourage reductions is under way. Opportunities to reduce TFA intakes are being considered in this wider context.

No assessment has been made of the feasibility, costs or health benefits related to placing a legal maximum on the occurrence of TFA in foods, and there are currently no plans to make such assessments. Some manufacturers and retailers have taken steps to eliminate, or reduce, hydrogenated vegetable oils, which contain TFA, in their products. Government have no data on the associated costs of these activities.

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