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28 Nov 2006 : Column 559W—continued

Health Service Journal

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was of the Health Inequalities supplement in the 23 November 2006 edition of the Health Service Journal. [106083]

Caroline Flint: The cost of the supplement was £20,000.

It represents good value in reaching a key group of primary care trusts and national health service professionals who have a lead responsibility for delivering the health inequalities public service agreement target.

Health Visitors/School Nurses

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) health visitors and (b) school nurses were employed in England in each of the last five years. [105859]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The following table shows the number of health visitors from 2001 to 2005. The number of qualified school nurses were counted for the first time in the 2004 work force census and are also shown in the table. The overall number of nurses working in primary and community care settings—some of whose roles overlap with health visitors—has increased by 37 per cent. since 1997.

Table of health visitors in England, 2001 to 2005
England (headcount)
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Health visitors

13,053

12,774

12,984

13,303

12,818

Qualified school nurses

2,409

2,887

of whom:

Hold a pre registration school nurse qualification

856

943

Source:
The Information Centre for health and social care non-medical work force census.

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Home Heat Helpline

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether her Department is taking steps to ensure that vulnerable groups are made aware of the assistance available to them through the home heat helpline; [104528]

(2) whether her Department is providing funding for the home heat helpline. [104529]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department, the Department for Work and Pensions, Age Concern, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Help the Aged, WRVS and National Energy Action publishes a booklet “Keep Warm, Keep Well”. It gives practical advice, plus contact details for a number of other organisations including the Home Heat Helpline. NHS Direct also provides advice.

The Home Heat Helpline is an initiative of the Energy Retail Association.

Hospital Travel Costs

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been paid out under the hospital travel costs scheme in each of the last three years; and how many patients received payments under the scheme in each year. [106092]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department does not collect figures on how much has been paid out through the hospital travel costs scheme, nor how many patients have benefited from the scheme. It is for primary care trusts, as local commissioners of services, to make provisions so that patients with either a financial or medical need for transport can travel to and from their treatment or care.

Infectious Diseases (Border Control)

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people entering the UK from outside the EU were x-rayed at British airports to check for evidence of tuberculosis (TB) in each of the last three years; and what action has been taken with regard to those found to be carrying TB. [104187]

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of immigrants who entered the UK from countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis were (a) medically examined, (b) x-rayed and (c) found to have tuberculosis in the last period for which figures are available. [104380]

Caroline Flint: We are currently in the process of implementing our commitment to introduce targeted health screening for tuberculosis (TB) in high-risk countries at the entry clearance stage. In the six countries where we implemented the pre-entry TB screening programme last year on a pilot basis all those applying to come to the United Kingdom for over six months have been screened, using a protocol based on x-rays and sputum smears. From the commencement of pre-entry TB screening in October 2005 until the end of October 2006, 27,807 people were subject to TB screening. Of these, 14 were found to have infectious
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TB. Applicants with infectious TB are not considered for entry clearance until they have successfully completed a course of treatment.

My hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality announced on 21 November 2006, Official Report, column 51WS, the extension of these controls to a further group of countries with a high incidence of TB as defined by the World Health Organization. Until these pre-entry controls are in place Government policy is that all those entering the UK from these countries, and from other countries with a high incidence of TB not covered by the pre-entry screening programme, for over six months should be routinely referred for medical examination for TB.

The Health Protection Agency reports that the number of people x-rayed at Heathrow and Gatwick airports was 62,301 in 2002-03, 72,510 in 2003-04 and 76,560 in 2004-05. Approximately 100 of the people who were x-rayed in 2004-05 were subsequently found to have TB. Any person thought on the basis of the examination at the port to have TB is referred to the national health service, and those who are subsequently diagnosed with TB are offered treatment.

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many trained medical staff are deployed at x-ray machines at British airports to check for illnesses; and what proportion of the day such trained personnel are on duty. [104188]

Caroline Flint: The Health Protection Agency reports that there are six whole-time equivalent medical staff working in the health control unit (HCU) at Heathrow airport, and two whole-time equivalent medical staff working in the HCU at Gatwick airport, where there is also on-call cover overnight provided by medical staff who are not based on site. These are the only points of entry to England equipped for x-ray examination. The term medical staff here refers to doctors and radiologists. There are also two radiographers working at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.

At Heathrow, medical staff are on duty at one terminal for 24 hours per day and at two of the other terminals for 12 hours per day. At Gatwick, medical staff are on duty for 12 hours a day, with on-call cover overnight.

Neurology/Epilepsy

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what funding the Government provides to independent organisations that provide specialist care for adults and children with severe forms of epilepsy; [101250]

(2) how many specialist care places there are in (a) Greater London, broken down by London borough, and (b) England for (i) adults and (ii) children with severe forms of epilepsy; and where they are located. [101251]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Information on the number of specialist care places for children and adults with epilepsy are not collected centrally.


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We do not provide direct funding for independent organisations providing specialist epilepsy care. However, local health bodies have the freedom to commission, and provide funding for, specialist epilepsy care for individuals from the independent sector.

NHS Staff

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures she is taking to maximise the opportunities available to displaced and newly qualified NHS staff affected by the recent workforce changes. [103784]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department is working closely with NHS employers and has published guidance to support local national health service organisations to help them maximise employment opportunities and to ensure the health and social care services do not lose the skills of displaced staff or new graduates.

Osteopaths

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when she expects to publish the cost-benefit analysis of the impact of revalidation on the osteopathic profession; [104264]

(2) what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the self-regulatory framework for osteopathy in meeting the needs of patients; [104244]

(3) what discussions she has had with the (a) General Osteopathic Council and (b) British Osteopathic Association on the proposed revalidation process for the osteopathic profession. [104265]

Andy Burnham: The Department has undertaken a review of the regulation of the non-medical healthcare professions including osteopathy, drawing on submissions and contributions from key stakeholders. I met the General Osteopathic Council and the British Osteopathic Association on 8 June 2006. The review was published on 14 July 2006, alongside Professor Sir Liam Donaldson’s report “Good Doctors, Safer Patients”.

A four-month consultation on both reviews ended on 10 November. We are currently considering all the responses and expect to publish our proposals, including a regulatory impact assessment, early in the new year.

Royal Free Hospital

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what percentage of phone calls were answered within 30 seconds at the Royal free hospital in the last 12 months; and if she will make a statement. [100994]

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


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Northern Ireland

A1 Dual Carriageway

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the timescale is for the commencement of the improvement schemes at the junctions of (a) Dromore Road, Hillsborough with the A1 dual carriageway and (b) Bunbridge Road, Dromore with the A1 dual carriageway. [103802]

David Cairns: The chief executive of Roads Service (Dr. Malcolm McKibbin) has written to the hon. Gentleman in response to this question.

Letter from Dr. Malcolm McKibbin, dated 28 November 2006:

Ambulances

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many ambulances are available in each health trust area in the Province between 9 am and 5 pm. [103437]

Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) is a regional service. Ambulances therefore cover areas not defined by trust boundaries.

The number of ambulances available in each board area in Northern Ireland during the period 9 am to 5 pm is as follows:

Board area Ambulance numbers

EHSSB

24

WHSSB

12

SHSSB

13

NHSSB

17


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many ambulances are available overnight in each health trust area in the Province. [103438]


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Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) is a regional service. Ambulances therefore cover areas not defined by trust boundaries

The number of ambulances available overnight in each health board area across Northern Ireland is as follows :

Board area Ambulance numbers

EHSSB

18

WHSSB

9

SHSSB

10

NHSSB

11


Overnight is defined by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service as 20.00 hours to 08.00 hours.

Audiology Services

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what the longest waiting time for a digital hearing aid was in each health trust area in the Province in 2005-06; [103431]

(2) what the average waiting time for a digital hearing aid is in each health trust area in the Province; [103432]

(3) how many patients are waiting for a digital hearing aid in each health trust area in the Province. [103433]

Paul Goggins: Information on the longest waiting time for a digital hearing aid in each health trust area in 2005-06 is not collected centrally (103431). Information is also not collected centrally on the average waiting time for a digital hearing aid in each health trust in the province (103432). However, information was collected on the number of completed waits for a hearing assessment/re-assessment for the quarter ending 31 March 2006. This is the first quarter for which information has been collected, according to specified time bands for each health and social services board. Waiting time is counted from the date a referral is received by the Audiology Department until the hearing aid is fitted.

All new patients assessed as requiring a hearing aid are fitted with a digital hearing aid. Analogue aids are normally only issued as replacements to current users of analogue aids for whom a digital hearing aid is unsuitable.

Waiting list information is collected by time band. It is therefore not possible to calculate the arithmetic mean (average) and longest waiting time for a digital hearing aid. Information in the following table shows the number of patients who were assessed and fitted with a hearing aid during quarter ending 31 March 2006 in each health and social services board by the length of time waited.


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