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Ms Rosie Winterton: All national health service organisations are required to ensure that they have sufficient appropriately trained staff to deliver high quality care in safe environments. Their performance in terms of safety and care environments is reviewed by the Healthcare Commission. The Department does not collect the information requested.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospitals were failing to meet Government targets in (a) England and (b) the boroughs of the Tees Valley sub-region in the latest month for which figures are available. 
Andy Burnham: In line with the principles of devolution, the Department monitors progress against local delivery plans that strategic health authorities agree with primary care trusts. These plans are based on current Government priorities set out in National Standards, Local Action: Health and Social Care Standards and Planning Framework 2005/06-2007/08 at SHA level.
Individual national health service trust performance against national priorities is assessed by the independent regulator, the Healthcare Commission, through its annual performance ratings process. The latest performance ratings are available on the Healthcare Commission's website at ratings2005.healthcarecommission.org.uk/.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department last undertook a review of the scientific evidence of when human life begins that drew on (a) UK and (b) international research; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: Under English law, a foetus is not recognised as being a separate person from its mother. It has no rights independent of its mother until it is born alive and has an independent existence.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department became aware of the higher risk of hepatitis C contamination from imported blood products; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: The issues around the risk of haemophilia patients acquiring infection with hepatitis C through contaminated blood products are complex. We understand that there has been concern that plasma imported from the United States may have carried a higher risk of transmitting hepatitis C. However, knowledge of the viral risks associated with both domestically produced and imported blood products evolved over time.
Blood products contain plasma pooled from many thousands of donors, and only one donation needs to carry the virus to infect the whole batch. Regardless of the source, or of the manufacturer of the plasma used, all products were potentially contaminated with the hepatitis C virus as a result of the need for pooling and the prevalence of the virus in blood donor populations around the world.
Caroline Flint: Methadone remains the main treatment of the national health service for the management of opiate dependence. The main alternative drug for management of opiate dependence is buprenorphine(1), used increasingly in the NHS since the Department amended regulations in April 2001 to enable practitioners to prescribe the drug for opiate dependence safely through instalment dispensing.
Patients may also be prescribed pharmaceutical diamorphine, and in a small number of cases alternative opiates such as clonidine and lofexidine to substitute for illicit opiate use, with decisions based on clinical judgement for each particular case.
As part of the Government's ongoing commitment to ensuring drug treatment is delivered in a way that maximises the potential for a successful outcome, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence is currently conducting a review of the effectiveness of methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone in the treatment of drug misusers, due for publication in March 2007.
Although outcomes generally are better for those who remain on opiate substitution treatment, there has been an increase in focus on commissioning effective support for patients who are ready to benefit from abstinence-based approaches to optimise such treatment pathways. Rehabilitation services or aftercare support are available for those opiate-dependent drug users who can successfully become drug-free and who no longer require treatments such as methadone.
Caroline Flint: Data are not collected on the number of pregnant women who may be eligible for free milk under the welfare food scheme. There are approximately 25,500 pregnant women currently in receipt of milk tokens. Promotion of the new Healthy Start scheme planned for late autumn this year is expected at least to maintain the current claim volumes.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the total cost was of overnight accommodation for Ministers of State in her Department on foreign visits in each of the last three years; 
Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. This information includes accommodation costs. Copies are available in the Library.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Department is taking to ensure effective medical education in the diagnosis and treatment of myalgic (a) encephalomyelitis and (b) encephalopathy. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Medical schools develop their own undergraduate medical curriculum in the light of recommendations from the General Medical Councils Education Committee, which has statutory responsibility to determine the extent of knowledge and skill required for the granting of primary medical qualifications in the United Kingdom (UK). The Department does not provide direction on the content of medical school courses. Medical schools are autonomous bodies and Ministers are precluded by legislation from intervening in their internal affairs, including curriculum content.
The content and standard of postgraduate medical training is the responsibility of the postgraduate medical education and training board, which is the competent authority for postgraduate medical training in the UK.
Andy Burnham: The report of the review of commissioning arrangements for specialised services was published on the Department's website and is available at www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/13/52/16/04135216.pdf.
Andy Burnham: All areas of the country have received record increases in their level of funding for the national health service. Funding of the NHS has increased from £34.7 billion in 1997-98 to £69.7 billion in 2004-05. By 2007-08, spending on the NHS will have increased to over £92 billion. This level of investment should enable NHS organisations to deliver key national and financial targets.
These include details of health care standards, existing commitments and new national targets. All NHS organisations are expected to meet these priorities and achieve financial balance. The independent regulator, the Healthcare Commission, assesses health care organisations performance against these priorities, including financial balance.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the turnover rate for NHS trust (a) chief executives, (b) chairmen and (c) senior managers was in each year for which records are available. 
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the NHS trusts that have funded visits abroad for staff in the last 12 months; and in each case what was the (a) purpose and (b) cost of each trip. 
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will take steps to amend the Medicines Act 1969 to require the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to inspect the warehouses and operations of companies which self-distribute medicines and drugs; 
(2) if she will require the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to extend its inspection role to cover companies which self-distribute medicines and drugs and which are not covered by the requirement of the Medicines Act 1968. 
Andy Burnham: The Medicines Act 1968, as amended, and orders and regulations under that Act, regulate the distribution of medicinal products in the United Kingdom. These provisions transpose into the United Kingdom's law the relevant requirements of Directive 2001/83/EC relating to medicinal products for human use.
Companies wishing to wholesale distribute medicines for human use are required, under the Act and related regulations, to be licensed and inspected by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) unless an exemption applies.
The term self-distribute, in relation to medicines for human use, is not a term used or defined in Directive 2001/83/EC or the United Kingdom medicines legislation, or in official guidance published by the MHRA.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain is therefore responsible for the inspection of retail pharmacy businesses in England and Wales at which medicinal products are sold by retail or supplied in circumstances corresponding to retail.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many and what percentage of pharmaceutical wholesaler dealer licence holders have been inspected by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency within the target period of three years; 
(2) how many inspectors the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has available to inspect pharmaceutical wholesaler licence holders; and how many inspections each inspector has carried out in each of the last three years. 
Andy Burnham: The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Government body responsible for the safety and licensing of medicines in the United Kingdom, employs six full-time good distribution practice inspectors. These inspectors inspect the facilities of licensed wholesale dealers of medicines to confirm compliance with the European Commissions guideline on good distribution practice and UK medicines regulations.
The current level of resource enables a regular and repeated inspection programme (at specified frequencies) of all (100 per cent.) of the facilities from where licensed wholesale distributors of medicinal products conduct their wholesale business to be maintained.
|Number of inspections|
|(1) Not in post (2) Training|
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