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4 May 2006 : Column 1770W—continued


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health under what legislation RU 486 is regulated in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement. [66881]

Jane Kennedy: RU 486 (Mifegyne, mifepristone) is an anti-progestogenic steroid medicine, which is licensed for use in medical abortion. The legislation under which RU
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486 is authorised for marketing in the United Kingdom is the Medicines for Human Use (Marketing Authorisations Etc.) Regulations 1994. These regulations implement Directive 2001/83/EC, the European Community Code relating to Medicinal Products for Human Use. The sale and supply of RU 486 is also subject to restrictions in Part III of the Medicines Act 1968 and orders and regulations made under that Part. Clinical trials of RU 486 are subject to the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004, which implement Directive 2001/20/EC.

As with all medicines, the safety of RU 486 is continuously monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Debt Recovery

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the merits of using private debt collection agencies to recover debts owed to her Department. [67872]

Mr. Byrne: As most of the Department's debtors are other national health service bodies it is not deemed appropriate to use a debt collection agency.


Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements exist under the new dentists' contract to ensure that domiciliary treatment is provided to patients in cases where there is a medical need for it. [67398]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Domiciliary services are one of the additional services, under a general dental services contract or personal dental services agreement, which the primary care trust may commission separately to meet the need for domiciliary services in its area.

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dentists in Milton Keynes have (a) signed and (b) declined to sign the new NHS contract. [68156]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information on the number of dentists who have signed the new contract and the number who have not signed is not available centrally. We do however have some provisional information that covers contracts. A contract may well be for more than one dentist so cannot be broken down further to individual dentist level.
Contracts signed
Approximate units of dental activity (UDA) value
Contracts still in discussion
Approximate UDA value0
Contracts rejected
Approximate UDA value19,982
UDAs (percentage)7.5
Contracts signed
Number signed without dispute8
Number signed in dispute16
Disputes (percentage)66.7

The information provided is not validated. It represents a snapshot of the position in early April 2006.

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A contract may be for either a practice or an individual dentist.

Primary care trusts are working with dentists to resolve as many disputes as possible locally.

Departmental Leave (Stress)

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff have been on sick leave suffering from stress in the Department in each of the last three years; and what percentage of the total staff number this represents. [63536]

Mr. Byrne: The Department records stress related sickness absence under the umbrella category of mental illness and therefore figures reflecting absences from stress are not available.

A new sickness absence management policy has been launched that provides managers with guidance and support in their management of sickness within their teams.

A monthly workforce information report is published identifying the main areas of absence encouraging senior managers to focus their attention on the critical areas.

East Sussex Primary Care Trust

Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the representations received by Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority from organisations and individuals who supported (a) a single East Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) and (b) two PCTs within East Sussex to include a separate PCT for Hastings and Rother. [64664]

Caroline Flint: This information requested is not held centrally, however Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority (SHA) have been asked to provide details to my hon. Friend directly.

The local consultation on primary care trust reconfiguration in East Sussex was managed by Surrey and Sussex SHA and it is for them to provide information about respondents to the local consultation.

Easter Celebrations

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was of Easter celebrations in NHS hospitals in 2006. [67098]

Mr. Byrne: The Department has no central record of this information which cannot be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost.
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End of Life Care

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions she has had on improving end of life care; and who participated in those discussions. [67441]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 2 May 2006]: The public's views about end of life care were sought as part of the consultation leading up to the publication of Our health, our care, our say" White Paper (Cm 6737). The Secretary of State and other members of the ministerial team attended regional consultation events in Gateshead, Leicester and London and a national citizen's summit in Birmingham which was attended by nearly 1,000 people.

The Secretary of State is due to meet Marie Curie Cancer Care, the National Council for Palliative Care and the Association for Children's Hospices to discuss the White Paper commitment on end of life care in the near future.


Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding has been made available for endometriosis research in each of the last 10 years. [60480]

Jane Kennedy: The main agency through which the Government supports medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Innovation.

MRC expenditure in the 10 years of research into endometriosis started from 1997–98 and is shown in the table.
Amount (£ million)

The MRC does not normally allocate funds to particular topics. Research proposals in all areas compete for the funding available. When appropriate, high quality research in particular areas of strategic importance may be given priority in competition for funds, but research excellence and importance to health continues to be the primary considerations in funding decisions. The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for support into any aspect of human health and these are judged in open competition with other demands on funding.

The Department funds research to support policy and to provide the evidence needed to underpin quality improvement and service development in the NHS. The Department's national research programme has, since 1997, funded one project related to endometriosis at a cost to 31 March 2004 of £320,000.

Over 75 per cent. of the Department's total expenditure on health research is devolved to and managed by national health service organisations.
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Details of completed and ongoing projects, including a number concerned with endometriosis, can be found on the national research register on the Department's website at

Equal Pay

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are undertaken within her Department to ensure that women are obtaining equal pay to men doing work of equal value. [65851]

Mr. Byrne: The Department is committed to reviewing our pay systems on a regular basis and to prepare action plans to close any equal pay gaps. Any equality proofing is undertaken in consultation with our trade unions. Departmental managers are asked to consider equal pay issues when setting starting pay and awarding pay flexibilities.

We undertook an equal pay analysis of our current systems in 2005 which did not indicate gender issues.

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