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18 Apr 2006 : Column 259W—continued

Private Procedures (Unpaid Bills)

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much is owed to NHS trusts arising out of unpaid bills for private medical procedures. [61556]

Jane Kennedy: The information is not collected centrally. However, we expect national health service trusts to follow up and take appropriate action to recover all outstanding unpaid bills.

Prostate Cancer

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of prostate cancer patients received an appointment with a specialist within two weeks of being referred to one by their general practitioner in the last period for which figures are available. [59722]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Data are not collected separately on referrals for prostate cancer but they are included in monitoring of patients with urological cancers. In the last quarter (October to December 2005) 99.8 per cent., of urgent general practitioner referrals for urological cancers were seen by a specialist within two weeks.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding has been provided for specialist nursing posts in prostate cancer treatment centres. [59723]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information on funding of specialist nursing posts is not collected centrally. It is for cancer networks to work in partnership with strategic health authorities and work force development directorates to assess, plan and review their work force needs and the education and training of all staff linked to local and national priorities for cancer.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the money provided by her Department for a public awareness programme for prostate cancer announced on 31 October 2005 has been spent. [59724]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department is providing £50,000 towards the development of the prostate public awareness pilot, which is being jointly funded by signatories to the Prostate Cancer Charter for Action. The Department is providing a further £50,000 to design and commission the evaluation of the pilot. The pilot will start later this year.
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Protection of Children Act

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many registered doctors are included on the list kept under section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1999. [47114]

Ruth Kelly: I have been asked to reply.

My Department can produce this information only at disproportionate cost.

Purchaser Parity Adjustment Scheme

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the potential effects of the earlier phasing out of the purchaser parity adjustment scheme within the healthcare system in Suffolk; and if she will make a statement; [58961]

(2) what assessment she has made of the likely savings arising from the phasing out of the purchaser parity adjustment scheme within the NHS; [58962]

(3) for what reasons her Department is phasing out the purchaser parity adjustment scheme. [58963]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The decision to reduce the level of purchaser parity adjustments (PPA) involved a fine judgement about the need for stability, maintaining support in full, as in 2005–06, versus the need to move back to a position where primary care trusts' (PCTs) spending power is more closely aligned with their fair share of national health service resources, as determined by the weighted capitation formula.

Pure Tone Audiometry

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time has been for patients waiting for pure tone audiometry since January 2006. [61709]

Mr. Byrne: Data on waiting times for pure tone audiometry have been collected since January 2006. We hope to commence routine monthly publication of diagnostic waiting time data in the spring once we are assured that they are of sufficient quality.

Resource Allocation Target (West Norfolk)

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated cumulative difference is between the National Health Service Advisory Committee on resource allocation target for West Norfolk and the (a) actual and (b) expected funding over the five year period from 2003–04 to 2007–08 inclusive; and if she will make a statement. [59192]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Revenue allocations are made to primary care trusts (PCTs) on the basis of the relative needs of their populations. A weighted capitation formula is used to set targets, which then inform allocations. The formula does not determine allocations. Allocations reflect decisions on the speed at which PCTs are brought nearer to target through the distribution of extra funds (pace of change policy).

In addition to moving PCTs closer to their fair share of the allocation, we must balance the need to maintain
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continuity and stability across the nation. This will ensure stability of funding for PCTs, and allow them to make progress nationally and in local priority areas.

Pace of change policy is decided by Ministers for each allocations round. For the 2006–08 revenue allocations, it has been decided to move PCTs more quickly towards their fair share of funds. As a result of this allocation round, no PCT will be more than 3.5 per. cent, below its fair share

Distance from target (DFT) and cumulative DFT for West Norfolk PCT for the years 2003–04 to 2007–08 is provided in the following table.
DFT (percentage)DFT
(£ million)
Cumulative DFT
(£ million)


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1)what representations she has received on the decision of the Food Standards Agency to revise targets for salt levels in food; [62226]

(2) how much salt was consumed on average per person in each year from 1997 to 2005. [62227]

Caroline Flint: I have not received any representations following the publication of the Food Standard Agency's (FSA) salt reduction targets.

Salt consumption figures are not collected annually, and the most recent data, obtained in 2000–01 from the national diet and nutrition survey of adults aged 19 to 64, found average adult salt intake to be about 9.5 grams per day.

The FSA has taken the decision to set up a new rolling programme of national diet and nutrition surveys to provide data on trends in nutrient intakes, so strengthening the ability to track changes over time. The rolling programme will cover all age groups, and the first results from the rolling programme should be available from 2008–09.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how her Department (a) defines and (b) categorises schizophrenia for the purposes of allocating drugs; and if she will make a statement. [59294]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department does not allocate drugs. The international standard diagnostic classification for all general epidemiological and many health management purposes is currently the International Classification of Diseases 10th Edition (ICD-10) published by the World Health Organisation. ICD-10 classifies schizophrenia as a mental and behavioural disorder which is characterized in general by fundamental and characteristic distortions of
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thinking and perception, and effects that are inappropriate or blunted. ICD-10 is available at Decisions about treatments are taken on an individual basis by the clinicians involved.

Selective Seratonin Re-uptake Inhibitors

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what interim guidance her Department plans to give to GPs on (a) the prescribing of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and (b) the referral to a counsellor or therapist of individuals suffering from mild or moderate depression in those areas without access to first-line recommended therapists; and if she will make a statement. [59530]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Clinical guidelines on the management of depression in primary and secondary care were issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2004. The guidelines outline appropriate prescribing practices for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs and recommend effective psychological treatments for people with depression and anxiety. They will set national standards for care across England and Wales and can be found on the NICE website at

The safety of SSRIs has been under continual review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) since the products were first marketed in the 1980s. This was considered by the committee on safety of medicines (CSM)—now the commission on human medicines—on a number of occasions, particularly their use in association with suicidal behaviour and withdrawal reactions. The CSM and its expert working group published their key findings on the MHRA website at

The MHRA/CSM reminded all prescribing doctors and pharmacists of the risks and benefits of SSRIs and related antidepressants in children and adolescents in 2003. A fact sheet on SSRIs to aid discussion between prescribers and patients was also issued by the CSM in 2003. In 2004, a reminder of key prescribing advice was issued to prescribers of the recommended dose regimen for the major SSRI drug Paroxetine (Seroxat). The expert working group's key findings, which focused on three key areas—withdrawal reactions, dose changes and suicidal behaviour—were communicated to health professionals in the United Kingdom in December 2004.

Other guidance is available for general practitioners. In 2001, the Department issued an evidence based guideline, Treatment choice in psychological therapies and counselling" to help general practitioners and other professionals know more about the most effective treatments for particular conditions. A booklet for service users and carers, Choosing talking treatments"?, was also published in 2001 to aid service users and carers when seeking GP referrals to talking therapies. In 2004, the Department also published a best practice guide, Organising and delivering psychological therapies, to help inform general practitioners and other local services deliver acceptable, accessible, equitable, cost effective and safe psychological therapy services.
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