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26 Apr 2006 : Column 1215W—continued


Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what hospital treatment protocols there are for meningitis; what such protocols have been issued in the last five years; who is responsible for issuing guidance to hospitals about the best and latest protocols for the treatment of meningitis; and if she will make a statement. [61093]

Caroline Flint: There are a number of authorities responsible for the issue of guidance to hospitals on the treatment of meningitis. Like all guidance based advice it should be provided using the most up to date evidence. The Department endorses the guidance produced by the meningitis research foundation (MRF) and has funded the MRF to produce a junior doctor handbook.

The Department has asked the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to provide guidance on the management of meningococcal disease and meningitis in children and adolescents.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the ability of hospitals in England to treat meningitis; and what steps her Department is taking to improve the treatment of meningitis in hospitals. [61095]

Caroline Flint: The Department has funded research to carry out an audit of the hospital management of acute bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia. This work will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and guidance issued following its publication.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations she has received about the standard of care in the NHS for patients with suspected cases of meningitis. [61096]

Caroline Flint: In 2005–06, there were no early day motions or adjournment debates on meningitis. In 2005–06, 15 parliamentary questions were answered that were in relation to meningitis. From August 2005, 67 cases were recorded on the Department's central correspondence system with a mention of meningitis in the reply.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she next plans to visit Coventry. [65393]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Secretary of State for Health has accepted an invitation to officially open the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement in Coventry, at a date to be agreed by the Secretary of State's office and the organisation.


Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the merits of phage therapy as a means of tackling MRSA in hospitals; and if she will make a statement. [64185]

Jane Kennedy: The therapeutic use of bacteriophages may be a valuable approach but the safe and controlled use of phage therapy requires more detailed study.
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Musculoskeletal Framework

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department will publish the Musculoskeletal Framework. [63619]

Mr. Byrne: Draft musculoskeletal framework proposals are currently subject to comment from key stakeholders. The outcome of this process will be published later this year.

NHS (Private Providers)

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether private providers which carry out NHS work will be subject to the patient involvement schemes which operate in NHS organisations. [54289]

Mr. Byrne: Strategic health authorities and primary care trusts are responsible for ensuring that section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001—the duty to involve and consult patients and the public—s complied with when making arrangements for another organisation, person or people to provide services. This includes independent sector providers.

NHS Appointments

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to revise the rules for appointments within health bodies to ensure (a) the process is transparent and (b) those appointed have (i) suitable skills and background experience and (ii) do not have a record of financial mismanagement. [61884]

Mr. Byrne: The Secretary of State for Health has delegated her appointments function relating to national health service chairs and non-executives to the NHS Appointments Commission.

Candidates for appointment are measured against detailed appointment and person specifications and are required to declare any potential conflict of interest. These processes are designed to minimise the risk of those without the necessary skills and experience being appointed and to ensure financial probity.

The NHS Appointments Commission processes are required to meet the highest standards of openness, transparency and probity set by the commissioner for public appointments and are also subject to periodic audit by the commissioner.

Recruitment of staff in the NHS is a local matter but NHS employers are expected to have fair and transparent recruitment processes as part of good human resources practice.

NHS Tariff

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the NHS tariff for 2006–07; and what methodology was used for its calculation. [60645]

Mr. Byrne: The corrected national tariff has now been issued for the national health service to refine its planning for 2006–07. The methodology used for its calculation is set out in 'Implementing Payment By Results: Technical Guidance 2006–07: Executive Summary' published on 26 January 2006.
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NHS Trusts

Ann Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health ifshe will make a statement on her Department's plansto tackle deficits in NHS trusts in the new financial year. [64062]

Jane Kennedy: In 2006–07, the priority will be to restore financial balance in the national health service, although this may not be possible for each and every organisation.

We are making a number of changes to deal with the financial problems in a minority of organisations, including the following:

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects to make an announcement on the approval of foundation status for the next tranche of NHS Trusts; what effects changes to NHS tariffs have had on the timing of the announcement; and if she will make a statement. [61649]

Mr. Byrne: Decisions on authorising and announcing NHS trusts as NHS foundation trusts are a matter for Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts).

Monitor has revised the authorisation dates for 24 wave two applicants—if successful—from 1 April and 1 July to 1 May (four mental health trusts), 1 June (six acute trusts) and 1 August (13 acute, and one mental health trust). All 24 trusts have previously received the support from the Secretary of State to go forward to Monitor and will be assessed against the criteria laid down in the Health and Social Care (Community Health Standards) Act 2003.

East Somerset NHS Trust is being considered for authorisation on 1 June.

Patient Costs (Reimbursement)

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether provision exists for patients not able to receive timely treatment under the NHS and who paid the cost of their own treatment, to receive reimbursement of those costs. [61722]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 27 March 2006]: No. If a patient receives private treatment without prior authorisation from the appropriate commissioning authority, they will not be a national health service patient for the purposes of that treatment. The patient
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would be a private patient and therefore be responsible for meeting the cost of the treatment themselves. The powers of the Secretary of State underlying the NHS are in sections 1 to 5 of the NHS Act 1977 and are not such as to enable the Secretary of State, or those to whom her powers have been delegated, to reimburse charges a patient has incurred for private treatment they have themselves acquired.

There are powers under European law for NHS commissioners to authorise treatment overseas within the European Union in some circumstances. Prior authorisation before treatment is currently required. There is no right for NHS patients to be treated outside of the European Economic Area (EEA). All patients seeking treatment outside of the EEA must have prior authorisation from their primary care trust before travelling for treatment. The NHS will not reimburse the cost of any treatment outside of the EEA where prior approval was either not sort or granted.

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