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25 Apr 2006 : Column 1078W—continued

Mini Motor Cycles (Protective Headgear)

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many injuries treated in emergency departments were recorded as resulting from not wearing protective headgear while driving mini motorcycles in (a) Dudley, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England in the last two years. [63166]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested is not collected centrally.
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Mobile Telephones

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to update the leaflets on the health risks of mobile telephones and mobile telephone base stations published by her Department six years ago. [64843]

Caroline Flint: The leaflets on Mobile Phones and Health" and on Mobile Phone Base Stations and Health" were produced following the comprehensive review of the science published by the independent expert group on mobile phones (the Stewart report) in 2000. The Stewart report remains the basis of science underpinning the health policy relating to exposure mobile phone radio waves. However, in view of the time elapsed and the need to provide up-to-date information, consideration is currently being given to a revised version of the leaflets.

N3 National Network

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the N3 national network connectivity capability of (a) general practitioners and (b) pharmacists; and if she will make a statement; [62520]

(2) how many (a) general practitioners and (b) pharmacists are linked to the Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions system; and by what date she expects all contractors to be linked. [62519]

Mr. Byrne: Currently around 9,700 general practitioner (GP) sites, including branch surgeries, have been connected to the N3 network in England, representing some 94 per cent. of those for which orders have so far been placed. The network provides centrally-funded, secure and reliable connections, between 0.5 megabite and two megabites, along with an integrated services digital network (ISDN) back-up line for resilience, and is the biggest civilian network in Europe.

The capability of community pharmacy contractors to connect to N3 has been greatly enhanced by commercial network providers who are now making connections to N3 available as part of the introduction of the electronic prescription service (EPS). Community pharmacy contractors now have a range of options for getting connected, including all in one packages of EPS software upgrades and network connections offered by pharmacy system suppliers.

As at 24 March 2006, 880 GP practices and 148 pharmacies had been upgraded and linked to the EPS. The rapid implementation of the EPS means that these numbers are constantly changing. Numbers for individual GPs and community pharmacists are not available.

In line with the target in the Department's national strategic programme, Delivering 21st Century IT, all GP practices and community pharmacies in England are expected to be linked to the service by the end of 2007.

NHS Beds

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS beds there were in each year since 2004. [62413]

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Mr. Byrne: The average daily number of available beds for all ward types in 2004–05 was 181,784.

NHS Direct

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she initiated the review of commissioning arrangements for NHS Direct from April 2007; who is conducting the review; when she expects the review to be completed; if she will publish the results of the review; and if she will make a statement. [51891]

Mr. Byrne: The review of NHS Directs commissioning arrangements began with the Department's arm's length body review in 2004. NHS Direct was established as a special health authority in April of that year, with primary care trusts (PCTs) becoming responsible for commissioning their services.

To support PCTs in this role, the Department publishes annual commissioning frameworks, which are available on the Department's website at Once NHS Direct's future organisational form has been decided, the Department, in partnership with NHS Direct; PCTs; and other stakeholders will agree commissioning arrangements for 2007–08 and beyond. We anticipate publishing these arrangements annually in line with current practice.

NHS Litigation Authority

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 April 2006 to question 62399, what the basis was of her statement that the NHS litigation authority (NHSLA) does not record the legal funding arrangements of claimants; and what records were provided by the NHSLA to the authors of the report on the funding of personal litigation commissioned by the Department for Constitutional Affairs as part of the 'large scale data set provided by the NHSLA'. [64988]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 24 April 2006]: The NHS litigation authority (NHSLA) will record the legal funding arrangements of claimants when legal proceedings are issued. As a defendant organisation, they will not necessarily know about the funding status of claims that are pre-litigation, unless the information is offered by the claimant. Information on the funding arrangements of claimants is therefore collected but necessarily incomplete.

The NHSLA provided a dataset containing information on a total of 58,120 cases involving litigation against the national health service related to clinical care for the report 'The Funding of Personal Injury Litigation: comparisons over time and jurisdictions,' February 2006. The following caveat to the data was quoted in the report:

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NHS Pension Scheme

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Health when she expects the resource accounts for the NHS pension scheme for 2004–05 to be published. [61344]

Mr. Byrne: The NHS Pension Scheme Resource Account for 2004–05 was laid before the House on 30 January 2006 and copies of the account are available in the Library.

The NHS Pensions Agency is in the process of producing printed and bound copies of the accounts, and these will be available from The Stationery Office within the next few weeks.

NHS Surgeries (Private Companies)

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many contracts for NHS surgeries have been awarded to private companies; to which companies each contract has been awarded; and where each surgery is located. [61712]

Mr. Byrne: The information requested is not collected centrally. Local primary health care provision is a matter for primary care trusts.

NHS Trust Deficits

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what sums she expects to accrue to the central NHS from interest charged on NHS trusts with deficits; and how much has been accrued to date. [64333]

Jane Kennedy: The aim of the 2005–06 strategic health authority (SHA) surplus incentive scheme was to encourage financial management in the national health service. The scheme is run at SHA level. We will be paying interest to SHAs that underspend, in addition to charging interest to overspending SHAs, so we will not know the net gains or losses from the scheme until the 2005–06 out-turn figures are known.

Organ Harvesting (China)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of (a) the extent to which the practice of harvesting the organs of executed prisoners in China takes place (b) the role of the Chinese Government in the practice and (c) the extent to which such prisoners have given their consent. [65759]

Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.

The Chinese Government has acknowledged the practice of organ harvesting from executed prisoners, but has given little indication as to how widespread it is other than to say it is relatively uncommon. We have received no evidence to substantiate recent media reports of large-scale organ harvesting in China. Despite Chinese Government assurances that prisoners agree to the donations voluntarily and that their families sign donation agreements, we arc concerned about this practice. I raised these concerns with the Chinese Government on 7 April. We believe that the right approach is to seek to overcome the social taboo of organ transplants in China and encourage donation from the general population. The Government welcome the announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Health of
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a new regulation to come into effect on 1 July, to ban the sale of organs and introduce medical standards for organ transplants.

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