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18 Apr 2006 : Column 190W—continued


Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether there is a licensing regime for the import of fish and seafood from Burma. [55659]

Caroline Flint: Imports of fishery products from Burma are allowed entry into the United Kingdom in accordance with European Union (EU) food hygiene legislation. A licence is not required, but all consignments must come from establishments approved to EU standards and be accompanied by officially signed public health certification. All consignments must also be presented for import at specified UK border inspection posts for mandatory checks prior to entry. Further details on the import requirements and relevant contact points can be found on the Food Standards Agency's website at:

Cancelled Operations

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients whose operations were cancelled
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with less than 24 hours notice have been (a) offered a new date within 28 days and (b) offered a choice of treatment at a different hospital in each quarter since April 2002, broken down by NHS trust. [62597]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 30 March 2006]: All patients whose operations are cancelled by the hospital on the day of surgery should be offered a new operation date within 28 days. Under the cancelled operations guarantee, if the national health service trust is unable to treat the patient within this 28-day period then it must make provision for the patient to move to the hospital of their choice for treatment.

Data on the number of patients admitted within 28 days of cancellation and on the number of patients offered treatment at an alternative hospital, broken down by NHS trust, for each quarter since April 2002 are available in the Library. Similar data are also available on the Department's website at:


Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has had conducted into the possible link between industrial processes and the incidence of cancer; and if she will make a statement. [62163]

Mrs. McGuire: I have been asked to reply.

The Health and Safety Executive has been involved in an extensive variety of research over many years linked to industrial processes and the incidence of cancer.

A key current piece of research is an updated assessment of the current and predicted future burden of occupational cancer. HSE is also reviewing the available toxicological and hygiene information on about 100 known or probable carcinogens with a view to enabling identification of those that appear to be most potent or are in wide use today.

Other examples of ongoing research include:

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the effect of exposure to chemicals in the causation of cancer, with particular reference to pesticides; [62705]

(2) what assessment she has made of the extent to which there is a correlation between the incidence of cancer and the prevalence of chemical use. [62706]

Caroline Flint: There is little convincing evidence to indicate that environmental exposure to chemicals in the United Kingdom causes cancer. However, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (passive smoking) is known to be associated with a 10 to 30 per cent. increase in lung cancer.
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The committees on mutagenicity and carcinogenicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment, which are independent advisory committees reporting to the chief medical officer and the chairman of the Food Standards Agency, are occasionally asked to advise on issues of pesticides and carcinogenic risk. The committee on mutagenicity recently completed a review of biomonitoring studies of genotoxicity in pesticide applicators and the committee on carcinogenicity has conducted a detailed evaluation of whether certain organochlorine pesticides are a cause of breast cancer. These and other reviews by the committees is available on the Department's website at: and or in their annual reports.

Capio Healthcare

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the value is of work contracted to Capio Healthcare by the NHS; what types of treatment the contracts cover; for how many patients; and what miscellaneous payments have been made to Capio Healthcare in relation to the contracted work. [59076]

Mr. Byrne: As part of the national procurement of surgical activity from the independent sector, Capio Healthcare UK provides the so-called spine chain of independent sector treatment centres. The contract provides for 100,521 procedures and 2,000 diagnostic tests over five years from nine facilities. The casemixes vary from facility to facility but comprise ophthalmology, general surgery, gastroenterology, gynaecology, urology, hernias, varicose veins, colonoscopies, minor skin surgery, orthopaedics, trauma, upper scopes, spinal surgery and dermatology. The value of the contract is commercial in confidence and payments to Capio Healthcare has been made in accordance with the contract. A further facility in West Surrey is under negotiation.

Capio Healthcare also provided 12,516 mainly orthopaedic procedures via its existing facilities through a one year centrally funded supplementary contract between May 2004 and June 2005. The value of the contract is commercial in confidence.

Cardiac Screening (Children)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will put in place arrangements for screening all children for cardiac problems; and if she will make a statement. [62037]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The United Kingdom national screening committee, which advises the Government on all aspects of screening, does not recommend population screening for abnormal heart conditions in children and young people as current evidence does not support this.

Testing for certain heart problems is offered, where appropriate, to close relatives of those who have died suddenly and unexpectedly of a suspected genetic cardiac condition. This is supported by the national service framework chapter for arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death, which was published on 4 March 2005.
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Care Costs

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures she is adopting to ensure that social services always advise patients that they cannot be compelled to sell their homes to pay for care in their own lifetime. [60386]

Mr. Byrne: We introduced the deferred payments scheme measures to help people moving into residential care to avoid having to sell their homes against their wishes during their lifetime. The Department issued specific guidance to local authorities to advise people about the deferred payments scheme in LAC(2001)25.

As part of its service inspections the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) looks at the quantity and quality of information that local authorities provide to residents and their representatives about how fees are calculated, and proportions that a service user would have to pay. The CSCI also looks at what complaints were being received by local authorities about who it carries out its social services functions.

Childhood Mortality (Lancashire)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to reduce the incidence of childhood mortality in the Lancashire area; and if she will make a statement. [61642]

Mr. Byrne: The responsibility for local health services now lies with the local national health service and it is for primary care trusts in conjunction with strategic health authorities and other local stakeholders to plan and develop services to meet the needs of their local populations.

The Department has an infant mortality target of a 10 per cent., reduction in the relative gap between routine and manual socio-economic groups and England as a whole from a baseline year of 1998 (the average of 1997–99) to the target year of 2010.

The Department has a number of initiatives aimed at tackling this gap in infant mortality. These include reducing maternal smoking as it is a risk factor for infant mortality, improving breastfeeding rates through a range of initiatives aimed at new and disadvantaged mothers, and improving neonatal services countrywide. In addition, the Department aims to reduce teenage pregnancy rates, since babies of teenage mothers have a 60 per cent., higher infant mortality rate than other age groups, and offer disadvantaged families greater access to healthy foods through the healthy start scheme.

These initiatives are expected to reduce the infant mortality level nationally, including the Lancashire area.

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