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Influenza Vaccines

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects general practitioners to receive sufficient supplies of 2006-07 influenza vaccines to meet expected demand. [98893]

Caroline Flint: A letter from the chief medical officer informing of the NHS of the plans for the 2006-07 influenza programme was published on 29 June 2006. This explained the detail of the new programme, reported the vaccine supply issues, and advised on prioritisation.

A further letter was sent in September by the Department to General Practitioners to provide on vaccine supply issues. This stated that the vaccine manufacturers had indicated that deliveries of vaccine would be made throughout October, November and December.

Myasthenia Gravis

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) services and (b) assistance are available to people diagnosed with myasthenia gravis; and if she will make a statement. [99143]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: People diagnosed with myasthenia gravis have access to the full range of health and social care provided by the national health service. This will include access to the most appropriate medications and surgical interventions based on the clinical judgement of local health professionals.

I met with my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Jim Dobbin) and the Myasthenia Gravis Association on 31 October 2006 to discuss raising the awareness of this condition with health professionals and the public.

National Service Framework for Older People

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her answer of 27 June 2006, Official Report, column 332W, on the National Service Framework for Older People, (1) what proportion of the trusts identified as being part of a falls service were (a) acute trusts and (b) primary care trusts; and if she will make a statement; [95916]

(2) how many of the trusts that are part of a falls service provide osteoporosis services; and if she will make a statement; [95917]

(3) what steps she is taking to implement the recommendations of the audit by the Royal College of Physicians; and if she will make a statement; [95918]

(4) what steps she is taking to address the gap between the development of falls services and the development of osteoporosis services. [95919]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The information received by the Department did not differentiate acute trusts from primary care trusts. Each strategic health authority (SNA) was asked which of their health and social care systems, as locally defined, had integrated falls services in place by April 2005.

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Information on trusts whose falls service provide osteoporosis services is not held centrally. However, an audit of the organisation of services for falls and bone health for older people undertaken earlier this year by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) found that 58 per cent., of specialist falls services have specific referral arrangements to osteoporosis services.

As a consequence of the audit, the RCP has produced an action plan toolkit to support trusts in developing sustainable falls services. Suggested actions include assessment and treatment of patients and use of fracture liaison nurses as recommended in the audit. The RCP is currently developing a national clinical audit of services for falls and bone health in older people for spring 2007 also recommended in the RCP audit.

The RCP audit recommended that falls and bone health should be included in the general practice quality outcome framework. Proposals for osteoporosis were not taken forward for the 2006 GP contract changes because of technical problems with the proposed indicators and the degree of priority attached to other changes to the quality outcomes framework for general practitioners (QOF). As part of the ongoing development of the framework, steps are being taken to review the indicators in the light of emerging evidence, and in the context of a value for money agreement. NHS Employers have appointed Birmingham University for a period of three years to lead an expert panel to inform the ongoing review and development of the QOF.

A New Ambition for Old Age—Next Steps in Implementing the National Service Framework for Older People, published by the Department in April 2006, describes five components of an integrated falls service. One aim in the development of falls and bone health services is to increase capacity in osteoporosis services in DXA scanning for bone density as a guide to treatment. In 2005-06 £3 million was allocated from a centrally held revenue budget for purchasing of additional scans in strategic health authority's where there are the most pressing short-falls. Capital provision of £17 million has been made available in 2006-07 and 2007-08 to improve NHS capacity through investment in new DXA scanning equipment.

NHS Estate Safety

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Eddisbury of 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 628W, on NHS estate safety, how much each NHS trust spent on high risk maintenance in 2004-05 and 2005-06. [98902]

Andy Burnham: The information requested on national health service trust spend on high risk maintenance is not collected centrally.

All NHS trusts are responsible for managing their assets to ensure they are fit for purpose and safe for patients and staff. This will include managing investment to reduce backlog maintenance, including safety issues, with prioritisation based on risk assessment, reconfiguration planning and available resources.

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NHS Finance

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding (a) the Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust, (b) University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, (c) Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust and (d) Nottingham City Hospital NHS Trust received from her Department in the 2004-05 fiscal year. [95090]

Andy Burnham: NHS trusts do not normally receive funding from the Department, but receive income for the provision of services from commissioners, principally from primary care trusts.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which organisations will be required to achieve monthly run-rate balance by the end of 2006-07; and if she will make a statement. [92029]

Andy Burnham: Our aim is for the national health service overall to be in net financial balance by the end of the current financial year. Our objective is to achieve monthly recurrent run rate balance, monthly recurrent expenditure covered by monthly recurrent income, across as many NHS organisations as possible by 31 March 2007, recognising that this would not be possible for every single organisation without adverse effect on service delivery.

NHS Summary Care Record Taskforce

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will provide for the representation of pharmacists on the NHS summary care record taskforce; and if she will make a statement; [95271]

(2) what factors were taken into account when determining the membership of the NHS summary care record taskforce; and if she will make a statement. [95272]

Caroline Flint: The summary care record taskforce will advise the care record development board on the introduction of the first phase of the national health service care records service by helping address outstanding issues and concerns. Its role is not intended as long-term, and in order to be fit for purpose, members were selected only from organisations which are key to the successful implementation of the early adopter sites of the summary care record. These include primary care, accident and emergency services, and patient organisations.

It has therefore not been possible, in the circumstances, to ensure representation for all health care professionals. However, we recognise it is important that the taskforce should consider the views of all the relevant stakeholders. That is why a large number of bodies have been invited to meet with the taskforce chairman, or to submit written evidence to inform its considerations. He has already met with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee, and they have also been asked to submit written evidence.

More widely, pharmacists’ views are being sought in the development of the electronic prescription service via a pharmacy user group. Pharmacists can also attend national events such as the National Care Record Development Board annual conference.

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Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects to answer question 89183, tabled by the hon. Member for Peterborough on24 July 2006, on non-UK citizens’ access to health care. [97797]

Ms Rosie Winterton: A reply was given on thedate for answer, 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 629W.

PCT Budgets

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to ensure that primary care trusts’ budgets are finalised before the start of the financial year to which they relate. [98062]

Andy Burnham: Funding for primary care trusts (PCTs) comes from two principal sources—revenue allocations from the Department, and central budgets which are issued by the Department and administered by strategic health authorities (SHAs).

The most recent round of revenue allocations covering 2006-07 to 2007-08 was announced in February 2005. PCT allocations after 2007-08 will be decided as soon as practically possible after the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 is announced.

In 2006-07, to help improve national health service organisations’ planning, we have changed the way that central budget funding is distributed to the NHS. In past years, central budgets were allocated directly to PCTs. This year we have allocated by far the vast majority of central funding directly to SHAs. This means that most of the central funding for the NHS has been allocated much earlier in the year than in past years. The central budget bundle is being managed directly by the SHAs, and the Department has been agreeing with the 10 SHAs a service level agreement which sets out the outcomes we expect to be delivered from the NHS with this substantial level of funding.

It is for each SHA, working with their NHS organisations, to determine how the funds from the bundle should be allocated, and what the expected outcomes will be from that funding. Our aim is to agree and allocate central budgets as early as possible for the 2007-08 financial year.

St. Nicholas Hospital, Newcastle

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what level of capital charges is levied on the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust for the asset of the listed theatre within the St. Nicholas hospital site, Newcastle; and if she will take steps to waive or to reduce these charges. [95371]

Andy Burnham: National health service bodies and the Department are required to pay an agreed rate of return on their assets. At this rate of return, the cost of capital charge is currently set at 3.5 per cent., so the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust is required to pay a cost of capital charge equivalent to 3.5 per cent. of the balance sheet value of its relevant net assets to the Department. Capital charges in respect of this asset are estimated to be £53,000 per annum.

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The capital charging system was designed to:

The Government does not propose to take any steps to waive the cost of capital charge in respect of this particular asset, or to adjust the calculation of that charge.

Stem Cell Research

Mr. Skinner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on the Government’s approach to stem cell research; and if she will make a statement. [98314]

Andy Burnham: In the March 2005 budget, the Chancellor announced the establishment of the UK
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Stem Cell Initiative (UKSCI). This was a task force, led by Sir John Pattison and drawing on membership from the academic and commercial sectors, charged with developing a vision and costed strategy, covering the period 2006 to 2015, in order to make the UK a global leader in stem cell research. The UKSCI report, consisting of 11 recommendations to Government, was published in December 2005. In their response, the Government accept the recommendations in full. As a result, the Government have allocated an additional £50 million, bringing total investment up to £100 million, for stem cell research between 2006-08.

Ultrasound Scans

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the waiting time is for an ultrasound scan in the Chelsea and Westminster hospital. [99036]

Andy Burnham: The waiting times for non-obstetric ultrasound scans are shown in the following table.


Diagnostic waiting time statistics for Chelsea and Westminster healthcare national health service trust month ending 31 August, patients waiting by length of wait
Diagnostic test Total patients waiting 0-1 1-2 2-3 3-4 4-5 5-6 6-7 7-8 8+ Median

Non-obstetric ultrasound












Source: Monthly diagnostics collection


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence evaluated Efexor XL (Venlafaxine); and when and over what period of time the drug was evaluated. [97820]

Andy Burnham: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published a clinical guideline on the management of depression, which includes recommendations relating to Efexor XL (Venlafaxine) in December 2004. The guideline was referred by the Department to NICE in March 2002.

In view of the publication of revised prescribing advice on Efexor XL (Venlafaxine) by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), NICE has asked its National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health to establish an independent working group made up of representatives from the two groups who developed the original guidelines. The working group will determine whether changes need to be made to a small number of recommendations about Venlafaxine, and if so what those changes should be. The working group will be able to advise NICE within the next three to four months. In the meantime, the NICE guidance on depression and anxiety continues to apply, and health professionals should take into account the MHRA’s advice when interpreting the recommendations about Venlafaxine.

Deputy Prime Minister

Official Duties

Mr. Heald: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the website relating to his official duties will go online. [96384]

The Deputy Prime Minister: It already is.

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