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Andy Burnham: The main agency through which the Government supports medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Innovation.
The MRC funds a considerable programme of research that underpins scientific understanding of hospital acquired infections including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other antibiotic resistant pathogens. The programmes research portfolio includes two relevant projects:
researchers at Nottingham University have found that signalling molecules produced by another bacterium block communication, toxin production and the growth of Staphylococcus; and
researchers at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, London, have discovered the structure of metallo-beta-lactamases, a superfamily of enzymes involved in the development of antibiotic resistance.
The Department has for some years recognised the importance of the control of hospital acquired
infection, and the threat to public health posed by the increase in antimicrobial resistance. As part of a wide-ranging approach to these issues, the Department set up an advisory group to identify research priorities in 1999. The groups report, published in 2001, made recommendations for future research that led to a research programme that is currently under way.
In 2003 the Department published Winning Waysworking together to reduce healthcare associated infection in England, a report that laid out a strategic approach to dealing with health care associated infections, including recommendations for further research. The report placed particular emphasis on activity aimed at preventing the occurrence and spread of infection.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much her Department has committed to spend on tackling hospital-acquired infection in each year since the launch of the initiative to tackle such infections on 1 September 2004; and how that spending has been allocated. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Home Secretary is aware of the Department's interest in the potential use of identity cards in the national health service, through routine discussions about matters of common interest.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the 20 week maximum wait for imaging scans from April has the status of a Government target; which imaging scans are included for the purposes of measuring success in meeting this maximum wait; and if she will make a statement. 
The national health service is working to the December 2008 referral-to-treatment target of 18 weeks. Intermediate stage-of-treatment milestones have been set such that diagnostic waits should be less than: -
26 weeks by March 2006 for MRI and CT scans;
13 weeks by March 2007 for all diagnostic tests; and
six weeks by March 2008 for all diagnostic tests.
The choice of scan initiative is designed to support delivery of these milestones by offering patients who do not have an appointment scheduled within a maximum time the choice of a scan at another provider within the maximum time. Phase 1: 26 weeksapplied to MRI and CT tests from November 2005. Phase 2:
20 weekshas applied to all diagnostic imaging tests (including MRI, CT, ultrasound and DEXA) since April 2006. Phase 3: 13 weekswill apply to all diagnostic imaging tests from April 2007.
The Department collects no specific data on choice of scan but the new national diagnostics data collection which started in January 2006, and associated census collections, show how waiting times for diagnostic tests are falling for example:
the number of waits of over 13 weeks for diagnostic imaging tests were 36,000 in September 2006 down from 68,000 in January 2006; and
the number of waits of over 26 weeks for diagnostic imaging tests were 4,900 in September 2006 down from 16,700 in January 2006.
Mr. Denham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance she has issued to NHS trusts on NHS staff members who express a wish not to be seconded to independent sector treatment centres. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: A jointly agreed HR framework for wave one of this independent sector treatment centres programme was published in January 2005 following consultation both nationally and locally and copies are available in the Library.
Ms Rosie Winterton: Consideration is being given to increasing our antiviral stockpile, including purchasing alternative antivirals. In particular, we are looking at Relenza as a possible back up to Tamiflu.
Ms Rosie Winterton: The current version of the Departments United Kingdom influenza pandemic contingency plan was published in October 2005. The plan describes the likely impact of an influenza pandemic for the UK and outlines the actions the Government and other authorities are taking to prepare for a possible pandemic, to slow down the spread of infection, minimise the health impact and minimise disruption to society.
The plan is currently being revised. The new version will have a broader scope than just the health response and cover wider areas of national planning. It is due to be published for comment on the Departments website in early January.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients the NHS has treated for lung disease in each year since 1997; and what resources the NHS has allocated for research into and treatment of lung disease. 
Andy Burnham: The number of patients the national health service has treated for lung disease in each year since 1997 is not held centrally. However, the following table provides details of how many patients the NHS has admitted to hospital where the primary diagnosis was lung disease.
|Count of hospital admissions where the primary diagnosis was lung disease 1998-99 to 2004-05 NHS Hospital, England|
|ICD-10 codes relating to lung disease||2004-05||2003-04||2002-03||2001-02||2000-01||1999-00||1998-99|
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