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20 Jun 2006 : Column 1816W—continued

Skipton Fund

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) a panel has been appointed to hear appeals to the Skipton Fund and (b) a timetable has been set for the commencement of appeals to the Skipton Fund; and if she will make a statement. [78589]

Caroline Flint: The NHS Appointment Commission is undertaking the recruitment of the chair and members of the Skipton Fund appeal panel and interviews have been arranged for late June 2006. Once the necessary appointments have been made, the Skipton Fund, who provide the secretariat for the appeals panel, will organise all necessary meetings of the panel and prepare cases to be considered by the panel at the earliest convenience.

Specialist Nurses

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which hospitals in South East London provide (a) Parkinson’s disease nurse specialists and (b) paediatric diabetes specialist nurses. [78417]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: This information is not held centrally.

Staff Absenteeism

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many working days were lost to her Department and its executive agencies in each year since 1997 due to staff absenteeism, expressed as the average annual number of absent days per employee; and what the estimated total cost to the Department and its agencies of absenteeism was in each year. [76892]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 19 June 2006]: The information requested is shown in the following table.

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Staff years Average working days lost per employee Estimated average daily cost of absence (£) Total cost (£)









































n/a = Not available.

Information on sickness absence in the civil service is published annually, and the reports for the years 1999 to 2004 can be found on the civil service website at:

The average daily cost of absence is based on average basic salaries presented in each year’s report.

Staff Surveys

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff surveys have been conducted in her Department in each of the last three years. [72859]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department has conducted three staff opinion surveys, one each year, over the past three years.

Summary/Detailed Care Records

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information will be held on an individual’s (a) summary care record and (b) detailed care record. [75125]

Caroline Flint: In the future, each person using the national health service will have a personal electronic NHS care record which can be quickly accessed by health care professionals legitimately involved in the person’s care. It will be made up of detailed care records and a summary care record.

Detailed care records will be built up over time into a detailed health and care history.

Patients will also have a summary care record. Initially this is likely to be limited to more basic information such as allergies, adverse reactions to medications, and current prescriptions but over time more information will be added about current health conditions and treatment. Departmental officials are in discussion with representatives of the medical professions of patients and the public about the scope and implementation of the summary care record. This work will be accelerated by the new taskforce.

Strict controls will be in place for both the detailed and summary care records so that only those people involved in the care of the patient will have access to patient information appropriate to their role.

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People’s consent to share and ability to limit the sharing of their care record is covered by the NHS care record guarantee.

Vulnerable Adults

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on plans to place on a statutory footing the ‘No Secrets’ guidelines for developing a multi-agency framework for prevention and investigation of abuse of vulnerable adults. [78423]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government regard abuse of vulnerable and older people as unacceptable in all its forms and is determined to root it out.

‘No Secrets’, published by the Department in 2000, provides a complete definition of abuse and a framework for councils to work with the police, the national health service and regulators to tackle abuse and prevent it from occurring. ‘No Secrets’ is statutory guidance, issued under section 7 of the 1970 Local Authorities Social Services Act; local authorities must have regard to it.

I am informed by the Commission for Social Care Inspection that 145 out of 150 localities have established adult protection committees, as recommended in the guidance, which demonstrates that councils are taking their responsibilities to tackle and prevent abuse seriously.

Waiting Times

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) mean and (b) median wait was for a (i) out-patient and (ii) in-patient appointment in (A) 1979, (B) 1997 and (C) the most recent period for which figures are available. [76950]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The mean and median waits for in-patient admission and first out-patient appointment in 1997 and 2006 are shown the following table. It is not possible to calculate mean or medians for 1979 as data were not collected in sufficient detail at that time.

Average waiting time for elective in-patient admission
Period ending Median wait Mean wait

March 1979



March 1997



March 2006



April 2006



Department of Health QF01

Average waiting time for a first out-patient appointment from a general practitioner referral to a consultant
Quarter ended Median wait Mean wait

March 1979



June 1997



March 2006



In-patient figures are available monthly, hence figures quoted for April 200 6 Source:
Department of Health QM08R

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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Avian Influenza

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what aid the Government have given to the Romanian authorities to tackle the incidence of H5N1 avian influenza there. [77807]

Mr. Bradshaw: The UK is playing a lead role in international initiatives to coordinate action on avian influenza. We provide advice and support through the Veterinary Laboratories Agency which, as the World Reference Laboratory, is a constant source of advice, expertise and training for specialists around the world. We have provided technical veterinary expertise to Romania and will consider requests for additional support, working with the European Commission, to help their efforts to tackle the disease.

We consider that the most effective use of resources is to channel them through multilateral organisations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, who already have in place infrastructures and programmes which can be employed to address avian influenza.

Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely impact on pigeon racing of restrictions which may be introduced to tackle avian influenza; and whether the Department plans to issue guidelines on this matter. [78010]

Mr. Bradshaw: Following a veterinary risk assessment, pigeon racing is currently allowed within the British Isles (that is, including the Republic of Ireland) subject to certain conditions. These include a requirement for race organisers to advise their local Animal Health Office that the event is taking place and to adhere to strict biosecurity practice.

Following a further recent risk assessment, pigeon races from Belgium and Northern France were permitted since 15 June 2006. These gatherings are subject to the same notification and biosecurity conditions for races within the British Isles as well as additional requirements to isolate pigeons following a race and can only take place until 31 July 2006 when we will review the position again. If the disease situation changes we will immediately review the position and may re-impose a ban on all pigeon races.

The Defra website contains full details of the restrictions and guidance on how to comply with them:

Commercial Recycling

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether he plans to extend his Department’s grants to cover commercial recycling; [76776]

(2) what mechanisms he plans to help small and medium-sized businesses recycle their waste products. [76851]

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Mr. Bradshaw: The recent consultation on the review of England’s Waste Strategy puts forward proposals for a greater emphasis on the recycling of commercial and industrial waste. This includes a wider role for local authorities in fostering better recycling services for small businesses, better integration of municipal and business waste management, and the further development of markets for recycled materials. The consultation also asked for views on how best the Government can support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in overcoming the barriers they face in recycling their waste.

Responses to the consultation, which closed on 9 May 2006, are being carefully considered during the development of a revised waste strategy—due to be published later this year.

In addition, the recently created Waste Infrastructure Development Programme is considering how to encourage local authorities to allow for appropriate, larger facilities that can serve the non-municipal sector.

The Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) Programme also plays a key role in reducing the amount of commercial waste sent to landfill—returning £284 million to businesses over three years through resource efficiency and waste minimisation programmes.

The Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) has set up a pilot project providing sector-specific help for small businesses, and the Environment Agency (EA) is developing a pilot internet service called ‘What do I do with my waste?’. This will work as an extension to the EA’s existing guidance service for SMEs, ‘NetRegs’, which includes guidance on waste issues.

Egg Industry

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department will provide guidance on new welfare guidelines as they will apply to permitted flooring systems for the egg industry. [75971]

Mr. Bradshaw: Updated legislation covering the welfare of laying hens in all systems was introduced in 2002. A Code of Recommendations for the welfare of laying hens is available from the Defra website:

If a producer requires further guidance on the suitability of individual flooring systems, they should contact the relevant local enforcement body.

Endangered Species

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many offences have been committed under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations since the increase in penalties in 2005; what the nature was of these offences; and what penalties were imposed in each case. [76715]

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Mr. Sutcliffe: I have been asked to reply.

Data on convictions under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species regulations since the increase of penalties in 2005 are unavailable as the most recent data available are for 2004. Data for 2005 will be available in the autumn.

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