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13 Dec 2006 : Column 1172W—continued

Hepatitis C

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of (a) the disease burden secondary to hepatitis C infection and (b) the resources necessary to manage the consequences of Hepatitis C infection over the next 20 years; and if she will make a statement. [104378]

Caroline Flint: The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has estimated the current burden of disease secondary to, or related to, hepatitis C and is carrying out work to predict the future burden of disease. The information is contained in the HPA's report “Hepatitis C in England—The First Health Protection Agency Annual Report 2005”, which has been placed in the Library.

The projected demand for and costs of hepatitis C services over the next twenty years are unclear given several uncertainties, including the number of new infections during that period, the rate at which people with existing infections are diagnosed, the number of patients with mild hepatitis C who opt to defer treatment to see whether progressive liver disease develops and the emergence of new therapies.

Hospital Treatment Times

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what average time elapsed between admission and treatment at (a) Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, (b) Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich and (c) Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford in each of the last five years. [105079]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not held centrally.

Infant Mortality

Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards reaching the target of reducing inequalities in health outcomes as measured by infant mortality by 10 per cent. by 2010 in (a) the North East Strategic Health Authority area, (b) Bishop Auckland and (c) England. [100917]

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Caroline Flint: The public service agreements health inequalities target for England is by 2010 to reduce inequalities in health outcomes by 10 per cent. as measured by infant mortality and life expectancy at birth.

It is supported by the specific objective in infant mortality starting with children under one year, by 2010 to reduce by at least 10 per cent. the gap in mortality between routine and manual groups and the population as a whole.

This is a national target. No targets for reducing inequalities in health outcome as measured by infant mortality have been set below this level, so no targets exist for the NHS North East area or for Bishop Auckland.

In terms of progress against the national target, infant mortality rates have declined in all groups and are at a historic low level. However, the rate of decline has been faster in other groups rather than routine and manual groups. As a result, there has been a widening in the relative gap between infant mortality in the routine and manual group and the total population between the target baseline 1997-99 and 2001-03 and 2002-04. The latest period 2003-05 shows a slight narrowing of the gap.

The infant mortality rate among the routine and manual group was 18 per cent. higher than in the total population in 2003-05, compared with 19 per cent. higher in 2001-03 and 2002-04. This compares with13 per cent. higher in the baseline period of 1997-99.


Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what participation by the biopharmaceutical sector is planned for the pandemic influenza planning exercise in February 2007. [104833]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In 2007, a separate exercise is planned for the participation of the medical supply chain to test their preparations in the event of an influenza pandemic.

Peter Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether people with Parkinson's disease will be entitled to free anti-influenza inoculations in 2006-07. [105542]

Caroline Flint: Parkinson's disease is not currently a risk group identified for routine flu vaccination. However, general practitioners may offer flu vaccine to their patients taking into account the risk of influenza infection exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from influenza itself.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the Government’s policy is on the (a) prophylactic and (b) acute use of (i) anti-viral drugs and (ii) the H5N1 avian influenza vaccine in the event of a pandemic reaching the UK. [107616]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We have purchased a sufficient quantity of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to treat 25 per cent. of the population. This should be adequate to treat all
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those who fall ill in a pandemic of similar proportions to those in the 20th century.

We are currently considering the practicalities of giving antivirals (as prophylaxis) to members of the household of a person with pandemic influenza. This would require a larger stockpile than currently planned for. Sustained use of antivirals for prophylaxis will not represent the best use of our resources, and would reduce the number of people who could be treated.

We are stockpiling 3.3 million doses of H5N1 vaccines (1.7 million have been delivered). These may be used for frontline healthcare workers if there was a close enough match between the vaccine strain and the emerging pandemic strain. It is important to remember that a pandemic virus could be so different from pre-pandemic vaccine strains that such vaccines would not offer any benefit.

Medical Research: Funding

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding has been allocated from the total NHS budget to (a) HIV and AIDS and (b) multiple sclerosis services and research in 2006-07. [103877]

Caroline Flint: Primary care trusts provide health care for those living with HIV and AIDS and multiple sclerosis funded from their general allocations. The total funding for HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis is therefore not separately identifiable.

The main agency through which the Government supports biomedical research is the Medical Research Council.

The Department provides funding mainly through allocations made annually to national health service providers for research and development to meet the priorities and needs of the NHS and to meet the costs to the NHS of hosting research supported by external funders. Research priorities are identified locally and the Department does not specify the disease or other areas in which the allocations made must be spent.

Mental Health

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the budget was of each NHS mental health trust in each of the last three years; and what the percentage annual change was in funding provided to each trust over that period. [106398]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not available. The Department makes revenue allocations to primary care trusts (PCTs), from which they can provide or commission mental health services in accordance with their own local priorities. Mental health trusts are not given funds for this purpose.

Allocations were first made to PCTs in 2003-04, but prior to this funding was allocated to health authorities. Information on expenditure by each PCT on the commissioning of mental illness services and details of revenue allocations to each PCT for 2003-04 to 2005-06 and for 2006-07 to 2007-08 is available in the Library. These data exclude social care spending on mental health and expenditure on mental health treatment in primary care.

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people are diagnosed with schizophrenia. [108244]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 11 December 2006]: This information is not held centrally.

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people detained within a secure hospital unit are diagnosed as psychopathic; and what trends there have been in the number diagnosed over the last ten years. [106867]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is not collected centrally.

MRSA Screening

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her policy is on screening of patients and staff for MRSA agents prior to entering hospital. [107767]

Andy Burnham: On 16 November 2006, the Department published enhanced advice on screening patients at risk prior to, or on admission to hospital and in particular clinical circumstances. It advises trusts to review their strategies for screening and decolonisation of patients with MRSA carriage immediately. The advice includes a number of scenarios for local consideration, where the risk of infection can be reduced through screening and/or decolonisation of patients at relatively high risk.

Recommendations on staff screening for MRSA were published in May 2006 in the ‘Journal of Hospital Infection’, as part of updated guidance on prevention and control of MRSA. This was produced by a working party on MRSA(1) at the Department’s request. Routine screening of staff for MRSA carriage is not recommended practice. However, screening may be advised by the local infection control team, when there are particular epidemiological features to indicate that staff may be the source of linked cases of MRSA infection.

Copies of the source documents containing the advice/recommendations referred to above have been placed in the Library.

Myotonic Dystrophy and Sexual Health: Funding

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether her Department plans to fund research into (a) myotonic dystrophy and (b) sexually transmitted diseases between 2006 and 2010; and if she will make a statement. [106068]

Andy Burnham: The Department's genetics programme is funding a four-year project on gene therapy for muscular dystrophy. The project is due to be completed the end of 2008.

The Department supports a research programme on sexual health and HIV that is managed on its behalf by the Medical Research Council (MRC). In this way, the MRC is able to coordinate the work of the programme
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with its broader portfolio of national and international research on sexual health and HIV. The programme is set to continue—a recent tender has led to some40 applications for funding on which decisions will be made next year.

The Department's national research programmes are funding a number of ongoing projects concerned with sexually transmitted disease. Details of these canbe found on the national research register at The Department has also commissioned a two-year project to test access for screening and treatment of genital Chlamydia infection in a community pharmacy setting. Findings from the research will be available in late 2007.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which recommendations made by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence have been rejected by her Department; and what the reasons for rejection were in each case. [104724]

Andy Burnham: The Department has not rejected any guidance made by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to the NHS.

National Programme for Information Technology

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many projects undertaken as part of the National Programme for Information Technology have been delivered (a) over budget, (b) after their original deadline, (c) on budget, (d) under budget, (e) on their original deadline and (f) ahead of their original deadline. [101723]

Caroline Flint: 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. The approach, in line with best practice, is to implement new services incrementally, avoiding a big bang approach, and to provide increasingly richer functionality over time.

Of the key centrally-funded programme projects, the first elements of the national health service care records service, to provide a transaction messaging service, a personal demographics service, a spine directory service and secure access controls via smartcards, went live on time and to budget in July 2004. The software to support choose and book is complete and went live on time and to budget, also in July 2004. The software to introduce the quality management and analysis system (QMAS) in support of the general medical services contract went live on time and to budget in August 2004 and was fully rolled out within three months, supporting payments to 100 per cent. of general practitioners (GPs) under the quality outcomes framework (QOF) every month since then. The software to allow electronic prescriptions to be issued went live on time and to budget in February 2005. The rate of connections to the new national broadband network (N3) has always been, and remains, ahead of schedule, and 98 per cent. of GPs now have a broadband connection.

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The first Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) under the programme was implemented in April 2005 and 57 systems have been implemented to date with over 86 million digital images stored. NHSmail was implemented on time in October 2004 and currently has over 210,000 registered users sending 800,000 e-mails per day.

Further details of progress towards delivery across the NHS of the centrally funded national infrastructure and services within the programme are contained in the National Audit Office (NAO)'s report published on 16 June 2006 which is available in the Library and via the NAO website at

However, some local service deployments are late, as some suppliers and their subcontractors have taken longer than anticipated to deliver software. Local service provider (LSP) systems are between one and two years behind original plans. Delays are due in part to the great complexity of developing computer software but also other factors—the need to reach a consensus with stakeholders, including doctors and patients, about the detail of both the software and the operational framework of electronic health records. Significant levels of data corruption and concomitant problems in existing local systems have also impeded the take-up of the new systems. The cost of delays is met by suppliers, not the taxpayer.

Though there have been delays, the programme is also delivering additional projects which were not part of the original scope of the programme. These include PACS, QMAS, the NHSmail email system, an IT system that will be used to invite people to take part in the bowel cancer-screening programme, andspecial enterprise-wide agreements by which NHS organisations can buy additional products and services at significantly discounted prices. In its first two years of implementation activity the programme has made more progress towards the objective of information being available throughout the NHS than had been achieved in the previous decade.

As the NAO made clear in their report, the value of contracts let for the core components of the national programme over 10 years has not increased since the contracts were let in 2003 and 2004. None of the relevant project budgets managed by the Department's NHS Connecting for Health agency have been exceeded. Anticipated expenditure under these contracts remains at planned levels.

NHS Data Spine

Jeremy Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which commercial organisations have access to the NHS Data Spine; and for what purpose the organisations have access. [104324]

Caroline Flint: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone) on 29 November 2006, Official Report, column 799W.

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NHS Deficits

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the evidence given before the Health Committee on 21 November 2006, on NHS deficits (Question 793), what specific workforce targets were cascaded to strategic health authorities (SHA); and what assessment she has made of how each SHA has performed against such targets. [106171]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The targets for General Practitioners and consultants contained in the national health service plan were broken into indicative delivery envelopes for the 28 strategic health authorities (SHAs). Nationally the targets were met in December 2003 and December 2004 respectively. Focus was on achievement of the national target rather than the SHA envelope.

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