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Multiple Sclerosis

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people with multiple sclerosis are waiting to commence beta interferon and glatiramer treatment; [77293]

(2) how much funding has been provided for beta interferon and glatiramer treatment for multiple sclerosis in each of the last three years. [77294]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Patients with multiple sclerosis, who meet the eligibility criteria set out in Health Circular 2002-04, are able to access treatment with beta interferon and glatiramer acetate through the risk sharing scheme. Information on the number of patients awaiting such treatment is not collected.

The cost of all prescriptions dispensed in the community for England for beta interferon and glatiramer acetate is detailed as follows:

Glatiramer acetate Beta interferon










Information taken from the prescription cost analysis system, supplied by the Prescriptions Pricing Division, which is part of the NHS Business Services Authority, based on an analysis of all prescriptions dispensed in the community for items personally administered in England. Also included are prescriptions written in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man but dispensed in England. This does not cover drugs dispensed in hospitals, or private prescriptions.

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what percentage of multiple sclerosis sufferers in England are receiving disease modifying therapies; [77700]

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(2) how many people with multiple sclerosis in (a) England and (b) Eastbourne eligible for disease modifying therapies under the Association of British Neurologists’ guidelines are not receiving them. [77702]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The percentage of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) currently receiving disease modifying therapies is not collected.

The number of people with MS eligible for disease modifying therapies, but not receiving them, is not collected.

National Blood Service

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints her Department received from men who have had sex with men that they were treated disrespectfully by blood donation staff in 2005. [76898]

Caroline Flint: Departmental officials are not aware of any complaints about the National Blood Service in relation to how their staff deal with men who have sex with men, who are excluded from donating blood.

National Centre for Media and Health

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the work of the National Centre for Media and Health. [67387]

Caroline Flint: The National Centre for Media and Health was a “Choosing Health” commitment which is being developed as part of the health social marketing strategy. An independent report commissioned by the Department, which investigates its future role, responsibilities and development will be launched in June 2006.

National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act

Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason section 28 of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002 has not been implemented. [75904]

Andy Burnham: The purpose of section 28 of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002 is to provide redress for the way the professional regulatory bodies have carried out any of their functions. Section 28 remains unimplemented to allow regulatory bodies a chance to consider, and amend if necessary, how any function is exercised.

Once the reviews of medical and non-medical professional regulation are published, we will consider the implementation of section 28.

National Programme for Information Technology

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the development of an electronic single assessment process through the national programme for information technology. [74056]

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Caroline Flint: The national service framework (NSF) for older people published in March 2001 recommended implementation of a single assessment process by the health and social care professionals involved in the care of each individual. The national programme for information technology included IT support as an additional service for a single assessment process within the contracts let to local service providers. A variety of information systems and tools are available to support this process. Successful local deployments of such systems by national programme suppliers, notably in the programme's north east and eastern clusters, have demonstrated the value of the technology and its potential to support the rapid development of integrated multi-agency working across all client groups.

In addition, the £25 million capital expenditure grant recently paid to local authorities (LAs) by the Department for improving information management made specific reference to the single assessment process. The circular issued to LAs contained the following reference:

A study has also been commissioned into options for national implementation of the electronic single assessment process (e-SAP), including linkage between health and social care systems. Consultation has been undertaken with health, social care and supplier representatives, and a report is due later in 2006.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what compensation has been paid to the NHS for loss suffered due to non-delivery of components of the national programme for information technology. [74059]

Caroline Flint: Many of the components of the national programme for information technology have been delivered to time. There have been some delays to local systems but local plans for deployment of systems and services are subject to regular update and revision by the national health service as well as suppliers depending, for example, on the readiness of NHS bodies to receive them. In general, payment is not made to suppliers until systems have been satisfactorily delivered and have been demonstrated to be safe to use and fit for purpose, and, where appropriate, been the subject of consultation with representatives of end-user groups. In some areas of the programme this process is determining the pace at which development and deployment takes place.

In some instances savings have been achieved by NHS organisations where national programme systems and services have been delivered ahead of time, or additional to those originally planned. Examples include email and new national network connections in many areas, and the benefits of national software
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licensing arrangements with Microsoft and Novell. There has been no clawback of the savings in these instances. The question of compensation for non-delivery, either to or from the NHS, therefore does not arise in either case.

There was a situation in the early days of the new national network (N3) contract when early milestones were missed and compensation of £4.5 million was agreed with BT. The N3 performance has since recovered and is now ahead of schedule.

Delivery of systems and services to the NHS is generally ahead of schedule in some areas, and, in the context of a 10-year programme, broadly on track in others. Such delays that have occurred have been more than made up for by delivery of projects additional to the original contracted components such as the quality management and analysis system (QMAS), the secure NHSmail email service and payment by results, which are in addition to the original scope of the programme.

Two years since contracts were first awarded, over 10,000 instances of new deployments of all types are currently live in NHS locations in England. 8,800 general practices (28,000 general practitioners (GPs)) are daily using QMAS that pays GPs £600 million a year based on quality outcomes. There are almost 230,000 users registered for access to the NHS care record spine with over 45,000 users accessing every day and around one and a quarter million prescriptions have been transmitted using the electronic transmission of prescriptions system. Over 14,500 secure broadband connections have been delivered, including to almost 10,000 general practice locations, and there are over 175,000 registered NHSmail users, over 79,000 of whom use the system daily.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the speed is of the broadband connection delivered through the national programme for information technology; and what assessment she has made of the optimal access speed. [74062]

Caroline Flint: The new national network (N3) provides connections of 0.5 up to 2 megabits per second (Mbps) of dedicated bandwidth for general practitioner (GP) sites, and of 2Mbps up to l00Mbps for national health service trusts. This can be topped up by local organisations to accommodate local business requirements.

Bandwidth deployed in any particular site depends on the size of the site, and the type of application usage predicted. More than 85 per cent. of GP sites have or are planned to have 1Mbps bandwidth or higher. Around 60 per cent. of NHS trusts have or are planned to have l00Mbps bandwidth.

Research on bandwidth requirements was undertaken with the NHS user community and prospective local service providers as part of the N3 procurement exercise. Results of the research were used as the basis for developing N3 products and services.

N3 deployment is one of the national programme's major success stories. In the two years since it began, over 14,500 installations have been completed at a rate significantly in advance of the original deployment plan. Before N3, only main GP practice sites were connected, the majority at 64kbps and some at 256kbps. None of these had any backup service
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provided and no branch practices were funded centrally. Trusts were provisioned at one 2mbps connection per trust. Under N3 all GP practice sites are eligible for centrally funded connections, and trusts are provided with a connection per site and receive bandwidth commensurate with their size. In order to provide a standard level of service, the provision of broadband services in some rural communities was accelerated under N3 in order that GPs could benefit from consistent services, regardless of location. The NHS was the first public service organisation to achieve this ambition for equitability of services in rural areas.

All N3 services receive significant backup connectivity, and average service availability across both primary and secondary care sites routinely exceeds 99.9 per cent. It is estimated that the total cost of N3 connections will be at least £800 million less than the provision of the same amount of N3 bandwidth under the old NHSnet contract.

NHS Care Records Service

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to link (a) opticians and (b) dentists to the NHS Care Records Service. [74057]

Caroline Flint: The NHS Care Records Service is the core component of the national programme for information technology. National programme applications are designed to support all the clinical services in and around the national health service, including dentists and opticians. The national programme is on target to achieve full integration of health and social care systems in England by 2010.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to link the Care Records Service to equivalent systems in (a) Scotland and (b) Wales. [74058]

Caroline Flint: The opportunity was provided for the Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales to join the procurement exercise for England but, at the time, they chose not to do so, which is their right under devolved government arrangements. However, through the United Kingdom information management and technology forum, and the national health service information standards board, national programme officials work closely with officials in the Scottish Executive, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Office to ensure common standards and interoperability of clinical information systems. Details of the output based specification, standards and message specifications used in England have been made available to other jurisdictions. The NHS care records service is being designed and developed in accordance with international and European Union-wide standards which have been adopted by the UK e-Government interoperability framework (e-GIF).

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many health professionals are registered to access the NHS Care Records Service; and how many staff she expects to have access when the system is fully operational. [75439]

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Caroline Flint: Local national health service organisations have the responsibility for determining which of their staff may access the care records available within the particular deployment of new information technology systems to their organisation. Only those people involved in the care of the patient will have access to patient information, and the level of detail to which they have access will be appropriate to their role. The NHS care records service registration authority is responsible for registering and verifying the identity of NHS staff who need to use the NHS Care Records Service (NHS CRS) and related systems and services. The number having access when the service is fully deployed across the NHS will be determined by the operational and professional needs of NHS organisations and their staff. Access to these systems and services, and the patient information they contain and use, is controlled by smartcards with identification and passcode, superior to a chip and pin credit card. Registration authorities locally issue smartcards to authorised staff with an approved level of access to patient information. As at 31 May 2006, there were over 230,000 users registered to access the NHS CRS.

NHS Direct

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether NHS Direct is funded out of the connecting for health budget; [66726]

(2) how NHS Direct generates revenue. [66727]

Caroline Flint: NHS Direct is funded by the Department for its core national services and for specific national projects such as the development of its NHS Direct interactive television services.

The nationally provided choose and book appointments line, which is currently solely provided by NHS Direct, is funded out of Departmental central budgets. To 2005-06, this has been funded from Connecting for Health monies. In 2006-07, the appointments line will be funded out of Departmental central budgets.

NHS Direct is able to generate local income by competing to provide services for primary care trusts and others. These may be either nationally enhanced services where it is national policy to involve NHS Direct such as call handling and clinical assessment for out-of-hours care or locally enhanced services to meet specific local needs such as pre-hospital screening.

NHS Finance

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the restrictions are on primary care trusts releasing money ring-fenced for premises development; and if she will make a statement. [72735]

Caroline Flint: Primary care trusts have the responsibility to plan, develop and improve services to meet the needs of local people and to decide how available funding should best be spent. Investment in premises improvement will be considered alongside other priorities.

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Funding that has been ring-fenced as grants to third parties, including primary care premises, must be spent for the purpose for which they were ring-fenced.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the mechanism is by which (a) primary care trusts and (b) NHS trusts report deficits to their strategic health authorities; how these deficits are monitored; and what the trigger is for bringing in a turnaround team. [76035]

Andy Burnham: In order to monitor the implementation of turnaround plans for organisations within the turnaround cohort, the turnaround national programme office at the Department has developed a fortnightly reporting process which will capture, for example, the following information: risks/issues during implementation; progress against milestones; overall financial performance against plan: for example cost savings achieved; monthly run rate information(1); year to date/outturn performance; and forecast full year deficit.

Following an independent baseline assessment of organisations with some of the largest deficits, 98(2) organisations were identified as those with significant deficits. These organisations, also known as the turnaround cohort were categorised in terms of their support requirements as follows:

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