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20 July 2006 : Column 665W—continued

Influenza Pandemic

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the written statement of 29 June 2006, Official Report, columns 16-17WS, on the informal meeting of EU health ministers, what the content was of the discussion on the development of an EU-wide stockpile of antivirals for use in the event of an influenza pandemic; what size she expects such an EU-wide stockpile to be; whether the UK would be expected to contribute to the EU-wide stockpile from its own stockpile of antivirals; for what purpose an EU-wide stockpile of antivirals would be used; and if she will make a statement. [85830]

Ms Rosie Winterton: At the informal meeting of European Union (EU) Health Ministers on 25-26 April, the presidency sought a consensus from member states
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on the principle of whether to establish an EU stockpile of antiviral drugs. No agreement was reached and the United Kingdom, supported by a number of other member states, emphasised that there was insufficient information on practical issues to demonstrate whether a stockpile could work in practice, and hence be effective.

The purpose of the proposed stockpile would be to try to slow the spread of a pandemic in Europe. The size of the proposed EU-wide stockpile is three million treatment courses. The UK’s national level stockpile of 14.6 million treatment courses covering 25 per cent. of its population will be complete by September 2006. We currently plan to maintain it at this level.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated of on the efficacy of stockpiling gloves and face masks for use in the event of an outbreak of pandemic influenza. [84017]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We have recommended the use of face masks for health care professionals who would be working closely with infected patients. This is detailed in the national health service infection control guidance which is available on the Department’s website at This guidance is evidence-based and sets out how protective clothing, including gloves, should be used to minimise the risk of NHS staff acquiring pandemic influenza while caring for symptomatic patients. Gloves are not required for routine care of patients with pandemic flu.

The chief medical officer commissioned the Health Protection Agency to review the scientific evidence for the use of face masks by the public during an influenza pandemic. This review did not find any clear evidence that such a policy would be of benefit. However, as with all policies relating to pandemic influenza, the evidence is regularly reviewed.

Infection control guidance for the workplace is available on the Health and Safety Executive website at

Low-life Expectancy

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to tackle low life expectancy in areas of deprivation. [87008]

Caroline Flint: Life expectancy is improving across England for all but is currently improving more slowly in the spearhead areas with the worst deprivation. Some spearhead areas are on track to meet the 2010 health inequalities target and we are working to ensure this best practice is spread not only to enable more people to live longer but narrow the health inequalities gap too.

Mental Health

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the recent changes in the levels of services in mental and community health services in Northamptonshire. [85870]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: The assessment of recent changes in the levels of services in mental and community health services in Northamptonshire is the responsibility of the NHS East Midlands strategic health authority (SHA).

It is for SHAs in conjunction with primary care trusts and other local stakeholders to plan and develop services to meet the needs of their local populations.

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures her Department is taking to improve the safety of women patients in NHS mental health accommodation. [84801]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has already introduced a number of policy initiatives which will improve the safety of women patients in mental health accommodation, including: single sex accommodation guidance in 2000; a national suicide prevention strategy in 2002; psychiatric inpatient care best practice guidance in 2002; mainstreaming women's mental health guidance in 2003; and management of violence guidance in 2004 to make in-patient services safer, including clear guidance on single sex accommodation to which national health service trusts are expected to adhere. This allows for men and women within the same unit, providing that there are separate sleeping areas, separate bathrooms and appropriate operational policies and procedures in place to ensure each patient’s safety.

The Department’s statistical note of May 2005, “Elimination of mixed-sex hospital accommodation”, shows that 99 per cent. of mental health trusts and primary care trusts which provide mental health services meet these single-sex accommodation objectives. We are working closely with the remaining trusts to ensure that they achieve the necessary standards as quickly as possible. This is available on the Department’s website at:

In 2005, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published guidelines on the management of violence in inpatient settings. Revised guidance on the management of aggression and violence is due to be published in September 2006 by the Care Service Improvement Partnership (CSIP), and this will also address issues of sexual safety.

The Healthcare Commission will include safety and the physical environment in their improvement review on acute inpatient care, commencing in autumn 2006 and reporting in 2007. The Healthcare Commission will also include sexual safety in its review of inpatient mental health services due to be carried out in spring 2007.

In addition, the Department will participate in national programmes which will build on existing initiatives of protecting vulnerable patients in mental health services with CSIP, the National Patient Safety Agency, and other agencies to ensure that reporting and appropriate investigation of all such incidents occurs. For example, CSIP together with the current joint Home Office/Department programme on domestic and sexual violence will discuss with mental health trusts what type of guidance is most needed to help support this.

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Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds were available in secure mental health wards in each year since 1997. [85410]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The average daily number of available beds for adults, excluding the elderly, in secure mental illness and in secure learning disability wards for each year from 1996-97 is shown in the table. Figures for 2005-06 are not yet available:

Available beds in secure mental illness wards (daily average) Available beds in secure learning disability wards (daily average) Available beds (both types)





































Department of Health form KH03

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the budget for mental health services for Northamptonshire (a) was in 2005-06 and (b) is in 2006-07. [85871]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information on budgets for mental health services for Northamptonshire for 2005-06 and 2006-07 is not held centrally.

Planned investment in mental health per head of weighted working age population in the Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland strategic health authority (SHA) area for 2005-06 is provided in the table.

Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland( 1) SHA

Weighted population


Total investment (£000)


Overall investment per head (£)


(1) This SHA merged with Trent SHA to become the East Midlands SHA effective from 3 July.
2005-06 National Survey of Investment in Mental Health Services. It is for primary care trusts to determine how to use the funding allocated to them to commission services to meet the healthcare needs of their local populations.


Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps are being taken to implement the Independent Midwives NHS Community Midwifery Model in all parts of the country; [85765]

(2) what recent discussions she has had with midwives’ representatives in relation to the Independent Midwives NHS Community Midwifery Model. [85766]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) in partnership with strategic health authorities (SHAs) and other local stakeholders to determine which
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models best suit the local needs of women and the midwifery workforce. This process provides the means for addressing local needs within the health community including the provision of maternity services.

Ministers and officials met with the Independent Midwives Association (IMA) in August 2005 and again in March 2006 to discuss their proposal of a national health service community midwifery model. The IMA was asked by Liam Byrne, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Care Services, to identify a PCT and SHA, together with a group of midwives, who would be willing to test the model and help to create an outline contract. That process is continuing.

Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust has to sell the site occupied by the Fraser Day hospital in Newport Pagnell. [85827]

Andy Burnham: It is for primary care trusts in partnership with strategic health authorities and other local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services.

Multiple Sclerosis

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) males and (b) females are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, broken down by age; what medication is available to those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; and if she will make a statement. [87105]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Information on the number of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) is not collected.

Under the MS risk-sharing scheme, a joint venture between the Department and drug manufacturers, beta interferon and glatiramer acetate are available to patients who meet the criteria of the Association of British Neurologists, including those with secondary progressive MS. In addition, all patients living with multiple sclerosis have access to a wide range of medications to help manage the symptoms associated with this disease. These include drugs for the relief of pain, depression, spasticity and bladder problems.

NHS Direct

David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Answer of 3 March 2006, Official Report, column 1050W, on NHS Direct, what steps she is taking to measure the net value of NHS Direct to the national health service. [57539]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 10 March 2006]: Regular performance review meetings are held between the Department and NHS Direct. This review includes indicators in relation to the percentage of urgent and emergency referrals and the percentage of calls completed by NHS Direct without onward referral.

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NHS Direct applies consistent methods to assess the clinical needs of people contacting them across the country. According to that assessment they give advice on self care, provide access to a nurse or, where appropriate, advice on seeing a doctor, or other part of the national health service. This ensures that people are able to access health services appropriately.

NHS Direct provides a 24-hour service, 365 days a year, that is shown in monthly patient satisfaction surveys to be highly valued by people seeking advice on health and health care.

The service is available through a variety of channels—by telephone, through the internet or through television sets in the comfort of one’s own home. NHS Direct also provides medical and dental out of hours services for a number of primary care trusts and is developing a number of services to support and complement other NHS organisations, including pilot work to proactively support patients with long-term conditions, as well as pre-operative screening and post-operative follow up services. Its work to support people in their homes is an important contribution to the changes in services needed to meet people’s needs as set out in the White paper, “Our health, our care, our say, a new direction for community services”.

NHS Finance

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria will apply to the use of capital money for the NHS; and whether capital receipts for the sale of closed community hospitals will be able to be reused in new community facilities. [85077]

Andy Burnham: The Department’s capital investment plans are set out in chapter 4 of the ‘Departmental Report 2006’ published in May of this year.

National health service trusts and primary care trusts may retain the proceeds of disposals for reinvestment up to their delegated limits. The sums above this limit go back to the strategic health authority for local prioritisation and it would be unusual for them not to be reinvested in the locality.

As long as the sale proceeds are used for capital investment, such as investment in buildings and equipment, it is for local managers to decide what types of facility are bought and this could include investment in a new community hospital.

The Government have recently announced a central capital fund of £750 million to invest in community hospitals projects and the criteria that will apply to this money are set out in the recently published document ‘Our health, our care, our community’ and are available on the Department’s website at

NHS Performance

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her oral statement of 7 June 2006, Official Report, column 264, on NHS performance, (1) what the financial impact was of the (a) social and economic deprivation, (b) proportion of elderly people living in the community and (c) demands of a rural economy element of the funding formula on each primary care trust in (i) 2004-05, (ii) 2005-06 and (iii) 2006-07; [81960]

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