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INPUT Pain Management Unit

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the future of the INPUT Pain Management Unit at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital. [102571]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: This is a matter for the chair of Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. I have written to Patricia Moberly informing her of the hon. Member’s inquiry. She will reply shortly and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.

Macular Degeneration

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will collect centrally the number of patients diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration by primary care trust area; and if she will make a statement. [101717]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The majority of patients with wet age-related macular degeneration are treated on an outpatient basis and are not therefore within the scope of Hospital Episodes Statistics data. It is for primary care trusts (PCT) to assess locally the number of patients likely to need different types of eye care services and meet those needs. As part of the current review of ophthalmic services, the Department is working with stakeholders to identify ways of supporting PCTs in commissioning eye care services.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to update Health Service Circular 1999/176, National Institute for Clinical Excellence: initial work programme. [102434]

Andy Burnham: It is no longer possible to issue Health Service Circulars (HSCs). The guidance contained in HSC199/176 will be updated and reissued in the form of good practice guidance to the NHS. The guidance will include advice to the NHS on the funding of licensed treatments or new technologies that have not been considered by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. We plan to issue the guidance before the end of this year.

NHS Bill

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason the wording of clause 129(2)(c)(ii) of the NHS Bill was changed from that set out in the draft Bill; and what effect she expects the change to have on the granting of a pharmacy contract. [101807]

Andy Burnham: The National Health Service Act 2006 consolidates various previous legislative provisions relating to the NHS and fulfils a commitment given in 2001 so to do. Section 129(2)(c)(ii), and the equivalent measure for Wales, set out the conditions under which an application to provide NHS pharmaceutical services may be granted. This is known as the control of entry test.

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It states that an application will only be granted if it is necessary or expedient in order to secure the adequate provision of NHS pharmaceutical services locally. The previous NHS Act 1977 used the terms necessary or desirable. The same terminology was originally adopted in the drafts of the new NHS Act published on the Department’s website in February and May 2006.

Subsequently, the term expedient was used for the Bill as introduced to Parliament in June 2006. This term was adopted in preference to the term desirable to update the language used in, and to ensure legislative consistency within, the new Act. The two terms are interchangeable in meaning. Unless the contrary intention is shown, a consolidation Act is presumed to be a straight consolidation and does not change the law.

Therefore, as there is no change in the meaning, the new Act, once it comes into force, will not change nor have any effect on the basis on which primary care trusts and health boards are to continue to decide NHS pharmaceutical applications. They will continue to apply the necessary or desirable criteria as set out in the NHS (Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 2005 as amended, and the equivalent provisions in Wales.

NHS Blood Products

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what new procedures and practices have been implemented by the NHS as a result of the lessons learned from the supply of contaminated NHS blood products. [100630]

Caroline Flint: Bio Products Laboratory, part of NHS Blood and Transplant, supplies a range of plasma products to the NHS, along with a number of commercial organisations. Organisations producing plasma products are highly regulated, and have to conform to high standards and strict regulations, like any pharmaceutical organisations.

In addition, blood safety issues are considered by the committee on the microbiological safety of blood, tissues and organs for transplantation. Where there is significant uncertainty, the committee has adopted a highly precautionary approach towards minimising the risk of infection through treatment. In relation to the possibility of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) transmission through blood and blood products, we have introduced a range of precautionary measures to prevent transmission between patients. For example, plasma derivatives such as clotting factors are obtained from the United States. In addition, we provided funding to extend the availability of synthetic clotting factors to adult haemophilia patients.

Since the identification of HIV and hepatitis C in the 1980s practice in terms of communications between health professionals and patients, and assessing and communicating the risks of medical treatment has changed significantly.

Our primary focus is to ensure that we adopt the precautionary principle where there is scientific uncertainty, and to balance the need to communicate information about possible risks and protect public health.

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Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate her Department has made of the cost of holding a public inquiry into the supply of contaminated NHS blood products to haemophiliacs; [100631]

(2) what assessment she has made of the merits of undertaking a public inquiry into the supply of contaminated NHS blood products to haemophiliacs. [100633]

Caroline Flint: The Government have great sympathy for those infected with hepatitis C and has considered the call for a public inquiry very carefully.

However, as previously stated, the Government do not accept that any wrongful practices were employed and do not consider that a public inquiry is justified. Donor screening for hepatitis C was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1991 and the development of this test marked a major advance in microbiological technology, which could not have been implemented before this time.

The cost of holding a public inquiry would vary depending on the scope and length of any inquiry.

NHS Direct Website

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was of the recent redesign of the NHS Direct website. [101930]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The recent redesign of the NHS Direct website was undertaken and paid for by NHS Direct. Information on the total cost of the redesign is not held centrally but may be available from the chairman of NHS Direct Special Health Authority.

Problematic Drug Users

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on commissioning Glasgow University to develop more robust methodology for understanding prevalence of problematic drug users; and when new PDU figures and a new methodology are expected to be published. [100653]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

The research to produce estimates of problem drug use (opiate and/or crack cocaine use) and to further develop the methodology for producing such estimates, which is being undertaken by a research team led by Dr. Gordon Hay of the University of Glasgow, has been under way since April 2005. The report of the first sweep of the research project, containing estimates of prevalence of problem drug use for the year 2004-05 and describing the methodology used were published on 23 November 2006.

The main report forms the second chapter in the Home Office Online report 16/06 ‘Measuring different aspects of problem drug use: methodological developments’. It will be available on the RDS area of the Home Office website:

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Local level estimates for all 149 Drug Action Team areas in England were published in nine separate regional reports on the National Treatment Agency website, also on 23 November:

Radiotherapy Services

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects the National Radiotherapy Advisory Group to report; and if she will make a statement on the future of NHS radiotherapy services. [102432]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The National Radiotherapy Advisory Group (NRAG) is now in the final stages of completing its review and we expect Ministers to receive its findings and recommendations before the end of the year.

Good progress has been made on improving radiotherapy services. Since 1997 for example, there has been a 53 per cent. increase in clinical oncologists and a 31 per cent. increase in the total number of therapeutic radiographers. The total stock of linear accelerators has also increased from 140 in 1997 to 215 as of August 2006.

Waiting Times

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress she is making towards measuring waiting times from routine referral to seeing a specialist in cases where a patient is subsequently diagnosed with (a) breast cancer and (b) any other cancer; and what timetable her Department has for measuring such waiting times. [102435]

Ms Rosie Winterton: These data are not collected centrally. The NHS is only required to report data to support monitoring of current waiting times standards, including urgent referrals for suspected cancer. The timetable for commencing measurement of routine referrals through to treatment begins in January 2007 to support delivery of the 18 week maximum wait from referral to treatment

Welwyn and Hatfield Hospital

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment her Department has made of the effect on planned provision of treatment in Buckinghamshire of the cancellation of the new hospital planned for Welwyn and Hatfield. [102341]

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.

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Home Department

Antisocial Behaviour Orders

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many antisocial behaviour orders have been obtained in England and Wales since their introduction. [101017]

Mr. Coaker: A table giving the number of antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) issued within England and Wales since their introduction, as reported to the Home Office by the Court Service, up to 30 September 2005 (latest available), can be found on the Crime Reduction website at:

Child Pornography

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent work the Task Force for Child Protection on the Internet has undertaken on cartoon child pornography; and if he will make a statement. [100503]

Mr. Coaker: The Criminal Law Subgroup of the Home Secretary’s Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet have been considering a number of issues arising from the availability of cartoons, drawings and computer generated fantasy material depicting the sexual abuse of children.

The subgroup have considered the extent to which the material is already covered by the criminal law. They have examined information from the police and others on the accessibility of this material, particularly on the internet, and its use by offenders. The subgroup have also considered the approach taken by other countries to regulating this material.

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the merits of amending the Protection of Children Act 1978 to include cartoon child pornography. [100506]

Mr. Coaker: The Criminal Law Subgroup of the Home Secretary's Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet have considered the possibility of amending the Protection of Children Act 1978 as one of the options for dealing with cartoon child pornography. This legislation made it an offence to take, make, distribute or show indecent photographs of real children. Its purpose was to protect children from abuse. It was subsequently extended to cover simple possession of indecent photographs, to reflect concern that possession fuels demand and perpetuates abuse, and to “pseudo photographs” to cover manipulation of images where, for example, an adult's head can be joined to a child's body. (The resulting image must appear to be a photograph of a child.)

The age of the child was raised from under 16 to under 18 in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Offences under the 1978 Act (as amended) attract substantial penalties to reflect the fact that real children are involved in the making of the material:
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there is a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment for taking, making and supply of such images and a maximum of five years' imprisonment for possession.

Although cartoons depicting child abuse are deeply offensive, they do not in themselves constitute abuse of a child. The 1978 Act is well understood by those who work with it and enforce it and there are substantial arguments against extending its scope to cover cartoons of child pornography. We are, however, giving close consideration to the issues and options in this difficult area, including how it has been tackled abroad.

Crime Detection (Technology)

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish the evaluation of the three GPS satellite tracking pilots for dangerous offenders. [102884]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Home Office expect to publish the research evaluation of the satellite tracking pilots in spring 2007.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications were received by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority in each of the last five years; and how much compensation was paid to claimants in each year. [101945]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The information is as follows.

Number of applications Amount of compensation paid received by CICA to claimants in each year (£)










2004 05






(1 )Unaudited figures at this stage.
The figures given relate to the tariff scheme.

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