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8 Nov 2006 : Column 1830W—continued

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department has taken to ensure that all who require an influenza vaccination in 2006 have received one; what the reasons are for the (a) shortages and (b) delays in delivery of vaccine in some areas of England; and if she will make a statement. [98907]

Caroline Flint: The Chief Medical Officer wrote to all healthcare professionals on 29 June 2006, advising how stocks should be prioritised for the different ‘at risk’ groups. This was following advice from the UK Vaccine Industry Group that there may be delays in the availability of flu vaccines to some surgeries due to problems encountered during the vaccine
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manufacturing process. A subsequent letter from the Department advised that 15.2 million doses of flu vaccine would be available in the UK this year, an increase on previous years.

Both letters are available in the Library.

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the (a) provision and (b) availability of influenza vaccinations in the West Midlands. [99132]

Caroline Flint: GPs are responsible for ordering their own supply of flu vaccine from one of the six suppliers to the UK of their choice. The amount of vaccine ordered by GPs should take into consideration the number of patients in at risk groups registered with them. This year, 15.2 million doses of flu vaccine are available for distribution in the UK. This is over 1 million more doses than were used last year.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether carers qualify as one of the high risk groups entitled to a priority influenza vaccination; and if she will make a statement. [99331]

Caroline Flint: Those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill should be given flu vaccine on an individual basis at the general practitioner’s discretion in the context of other clinical risk groups in their practice.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether there is any further prioritisation within the high risk group of those who are automatically entitled to an influenza vaccination in the event of a vaccination shortage. [99332]

Caroline Flint: The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) confirmed that vaccine should be prioritised for those aged 65 and over and those in clinical risk groups before any other group. The JCVI have not advised on prioritisation within risk groups.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are being taken to encourage a higher uptake of the influenza vaccination among high risk groups than occurred in 2005. [99333]

Caroline Flint: We launched a media campaign on 2 October incorporating a number of strategies aimed at encouraging people in our target risk groups to receive their flu vaccination. The campaign incorporated:

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The Chief Medical Officer wrote to all general practitioners with details of this year’s influenza programme on 29 June 2006. a copy is available in the Library.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations she has received on the availability of vaccines for seasonal influenza; from which individuals and organisations representations have been received; what the content of those representations was; and if she will make a statement. [97928]

Caroline Flint: My right hon. Friend has not had any recent meetings regarding the availability of seasonal flu vaccine, but the Department has received 17 letters and 10 parliamentary questions on the subject.

Manufacturers have indicated that seasonal flu vaccine will be delivered throughout October, November and December. We expect 15.2 million doses of vaccine to be available this year.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects her Department's review of the seasonal influenza immunisation programme to be completed; if she will publish the results of the review; which individuals and organisations are contributing to the review; which options for procuring seasonal influenza vaccine are under consideration by the review team; whether the review will examine the case for a greater reliance on antivirals in addition to seasonal influenza vaccines for the purposes of protecting vulnerable patients during the influenza season; and if she will make a statement. [97929]

Caroline Flint: The independent review is conducting an assessment of the arrangements currently in place for the seasonal flu vaccination programme. The reviewers have had discussions with strategic health authorities, primary care trusts, general practitioners, British Medical Association and vaccine manufacturers. The report will be submitted to the Department in due course.

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made with the programme for the administering of influenza vaccinations. [100082]

Caroline Flint: Distribution of influenza vaccine started in September and we are expecting that by the end of November 13 million doses will have been delivered. This represents nearly 90 per cent. of the total available vaccine.

Insulin Resistance

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the possible link between Bisophenol-A and insulin resistance. [100470]

Andy Burnham: We are not aware of any research that has been commissioned into insulin resistance linked to exposure to Bisophenol-A.

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International GCSE

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether her Department recognises the International GCSE as an acceptable substitute for a GCSE for the purposes of recruitment. [96726]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: When advertising vacancies the Department publishes the competencies required for the post. Appointment decisions are then made on merit based on an assessment of candidates against that set of competencies.

Isabel Healthcare

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 9 January 2006, Official Report, column 137W, on Isabel Healthcare, what assessment her Department has made of the potential effect of the implementation of Isabel Healthcare's diagnosis software on the level of misdiagnosis within the NHS. [93001]

Caroline Flint: In August 2002 my noble Friend the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department, instituted an examination of the Isabel product's potential effectiveness in the wider clinical context and of options for promoting its wider use in the NHS. A study was designed that covered a wide range of issues that would need to be researched, including experience of current users, qualitative comparisons with other similar tools, user friendliness, and cost. The findings of the study, done at the University of Portsmouth, were published in March 2004.

The report concluded that Isabel was providing a useful service to clinicians, was capable of contributing to the NHS Quality programme, and that it had the potential to improve outcomes for patients. However, in its then state of development, Isabel was judged not
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to be robust in that it could be subject to loss of user confidence due to a variety of reasons, the most serious being poor quality information. Isabel was felt to be disadvantaged by its reliance on free text searching, which could potentially result in a diagnosis being made on the basis of inconsistent or unverifiable sources. It is largely as a result of this feature that Isabel was understood to enjoy only limited clinical support. The report concluded that this and other issues needed to be addressed before the Isabel product could be considered for being made available throughout the NHS.

Currently, decision support functionality within the National Programme for IT is being provided through a system called Map of Medicine. This has been evaluated to be an effective tool with considerable potential, developed in association between the Royal Free Hospital and UCL Medical School. Unlike Isabel, Map of Medicine already covers all ages of patient and, in contrast to Isabel, it uses tagged data to ensure that diagnosis is reliable, consistent and verifiable. Map of Medicine is already being deployed in four of the programme's five regional cluster areas.

IT Projects

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which information technology projects are being undertaken by (a) her Department and (b) its agencies; what the (i) start date, (ii) original planned completion date, (iii) expected completion date, (iv) originally planned costs and (v) estimated costs are of each; and if she will make a statement. [95861]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information technology (IT) projects currently being undertaken by the Department and its agencies are listed below by:

Name of project Start date Original planned completion Expected completion Original planned costs (£000) Estimated costs (£000)



March 2007

March 2007



Notes 7 upgrade

October 2006

December 2006

April 2007



Windows XP SP2 upgrade

January 2006

October 2006

January 2007



External services environment

April 2006

September 2006

December 2006



Network and cabling upgrade to Quarry house

January 2006

April 2007

July 2007



Web 2006

November 2005

June 2006

December 2006



Enterprise project and collaboration

November 2005

October 2006

December 2006



The Club Project

June 2005

July 2006

November 2006



NHS reconfiguration

July 2006

October 2006

November 2006



Enterprise Project Management

December 2005

August 2006

October 2006



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8 Nov 2006 : Column 1836W

National Programme for IT( 1)
Programme area Contractor Lifetime contract value (£ million)




N3 broadband network



Choose and Book core contract

Atos Origin SchlumbergerSema


London LSP



North East LSP



NW/W Midlands LSP



Eastern LSP



Southern LSP





(1 )There is no single national start or completion date for the national programme for information technology as a whole, or for its individual systems and services. The aim is to achieve substantial integration of health and social care information systems in England under the national programme by 2010. Clearly systems will need to be upgraded in the light of new technology and new National Health Service requirements beyond that date. The approach, in line with best practice, is to implement new services incrementally, avoiding big-bang approach, and providing increasingly richer functionality over time. The value of the contracts let for the core components of the national programme amounts to 6.2 billion over 10 years, and this has not increased.

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