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14 Dec 2006 : Column 1363Wcontinued
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the Spine database will be compatible with the National Identity Register. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The spine is the name given to the national database of key information about national health service patients health and care. It forms the core of the NHS care records service.
There are no plans to disclose NHS patient information to the national identity register, and no plans for physical or electronic linkage between what would be two completely separate systems. Therefore questions of technical compatibility do not arise.
NHS patient information will only be disclosed in accordance with the NHS code of practice on confidentiality.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what personal data held by her Department will be entered on to the national identity register; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) which datasets held by her Department have been identified as suitable for use in the national identity register database. 
Caroline Flint: None. There are no plans to disclose national health service patient information to the national identity register. NHS patient information will only be disclosed in accordance with the NHS code of practice on confidentiality.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of the (a) clinical guidelines, (b) guidance on public health and (c) technology appraisals carried out by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have been initiated by (i) clinical and public health professionals, (ii) patients, (iii) carers, (iv) the general public, (v) her Departments national clinical directors, (vi) her Departments policy teams, (vii) the National Horizon Scanning Centre and (viii) NICE staff. 
Andy Burnham: The information requested is not collected by the Department. A bespoke data collection and analysis exercise could be carried out only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the evidence (question 742) given before the Health Committee on 21 November 2006, on NHS deficits, what estimate she has made of the oversupply of (a) doctors, (b) nurses, (c) other health professionals and (d) all other NHS staff in 2006-07. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Staffing levels for national health service organisations are a matter for local determination. It is for each trust and primary care trust to agree on the number and skill mix of staff they need to deliver services.
Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent per capita by the NHS in each of the regional health authority areas on mental health in the last year for which figures are available. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Information is not available in the requested format. Estimates of primary care trust expenditure on mental health are provided by the programme budgeting returns. At present, data are available for the financial years 2003-04 and 2004-05 as per the old primary care trust boundaries only.
Details of the net spend for each primary care trust in 2003-04 and 2004-05 on mental health in terms of expenditure per 100,000 unified weighted population are available in the Library.
Further analysis is available at the website:
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the announcements (a) she and (b) her Ministers have made pledging additional NHS funding on specific activities in each of the last five years; and which of this funding was ring-fenced. 
Andy Burnham: This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has received from the local national health service in North East Hertfordshire of the number of NHS posts expected to be lost in the next 12 months. 
Andy Burnham: This information is not collected centrally.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what performance targets have been set for NHS Professionals. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: NHS Professionals has a number of performance targets to meet each year. These are outlined in their business plan and monitored through a balance scorecard.
NHS Professionals report quarterly on their performance against the scorecard key performance indicators. Performance is discussed at quarterly accountability review meetings.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether NHS Professionals plans to increase the fees it charges to NHS trusts. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: NHS Professionals is currently discussing a new service proposition with its partner trusts, the Department and NHS Employers. This new proposition will deliver greater choice for trusts wishing to use the NHS Professionals service. The pricing levels for these services are not yet agreed.
From 21 February 2007, and in line with Departmental policy on trusts paying for the services they receive, trusts using NHS Professionals will be subject to a £6 transaction fee on all agency invoices.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what audit procedures are in place (a) to monitor the performance of NHS Professionals and (b) to ensure that all staff supplied by NHS Professionals to hospitals undergo the same recruitment checks, training and occupational health checks that are required of private recruitment agencies. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: NHS Professionals annual accounts are audited by the National Audit Office. It has also been audited by the Department of Trade Industry and has met and, in some cases exceeded, the requirements of the Employment Agencies Act and the Conduct of Employment and Employment Businesses Regulations.
NHS Professionals reports quarterly on their performance against key performance indicators. These indicators are discussed at quarterly accountability review meetings with senior Department officials.
NHS Professionals nursing staff and locum doctors are employed by the NHS and are therefore subject to the same stringent checks as any other substantive employee and as set out in the NHS Employers document Safer Recruitment. NHS Professionals is bound by all the mandatory checks required of any
other NHS organisation and no member is allowed to work until these checks have been completed satisfactorily.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding from her Department NHS Professionals received in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07, broken down by (i) staff salaries, (ii) recruitment costs, (iii) infrastructure and premises costs, (iv) marketing and advertising costs and (v) other costs. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: NHS Professionals received funding of £19 million in 2005-06 and will receive £13.3 million in 2006-07 from the Department. The funding is not broken down into the categories requested. Details of NHS Professionals running costs are available in their published annual accounts.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the UK Government will encourage the European Commission to support changes in regulations to enable pharmaceutical companies to provide information directly to patients about prescription medicines; and if she will make a statement. 
Andy Burnham: Regulations covering labelling, patient information and advertising associated with medicines are set out in national and European legislation, specifically Council Directive 2001/83/EC.
The United Kingdom Government recognise that patients want objective, authoritative information about medicines to help them make decisions about their healthcare. We strongly support the development of an improved framework for the delivery of medicines information and are keen to ensure that all patients have access to good quality, objective, reliable and accurate information. The UK Government do not, however, support lifting the current ban in European Union law on direct to consumer advertising for prescription only medicines.
The European Commission is currently preparing a report for the European Parliament and the Council on current practice concerning the provision of information to patients across the community. Consultations are taking place with patients, healthcare professionals, member states and the pharmaceutical industry. We are actively contributing to this work. A report from the European Commission on how to best improve information on prescription medicines is expected in 2007. We will consider any proposals, including legislative change to improve the quality of information to patients.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average level of debt arising from private finance initiative funded hospitals is owed by health service trusts. 
Andy Burnham: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 5 December 2006, Official Report, column 387W.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the cost to NHS organisations of preparing business cases for failed private finance initiative applications in each NHS organisation in each year since 1997. 
Andy Burnham: Central records are only kept on private finance initiative (PFI) schemes with a capital value of over £25 million. Schemes below that level are managed locally and any write-offs of this kind are declared in the accounts of the trust concerned.
Information about schemes above £25 million is as follows:
East Kent hospital NHS trust was a fourth wave PFI scheme given the go-ahead to proceed in 2001. The scheme was cancelled in 2003. The trust reported that their abortive development costs were approximately £432,000.
Bradford teaching hospitals NHS foundation trust was a fourth wave PFI scheme given the go-ahead to proceed in 2001. The scheme was cancelled in 2004. The trust reported that their abortive development costs were approximately £719,000.
The Paddington Basin PFI scheme was given the go-ahead to proceed in 1999. The scheme was cancelled in 2005. Abortive development costs were £15 million.
Essex Rivers healthcare NHS trust was a fourth wave PFI scheme given the go-ahead to proceed in 2001. The scheme was cancelled in 2006. The trust advised the Department that they estimate their abortive development costs were about £4 million.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards the Choosing Health target of having each primary care trust run at least one Skilled for Health programme each year. 
Caroline Flint: Phase one of Skilled for Health was completed this year and the teaching resources published in November 2006 as part of the embedded learning curriculum content for the Skills for Life programme. They are available at no cost to primary care trusts (PCTs) and their partners from Prolog (0845 60 222 600). Copies have been placed in the Library.
Early adopter partnerships are now envisaged between local health and education bodies to provide local models of delivery for wider dissemination and as models of best practice before wider rollout can take place.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will take steps to ensure that patients in (a) Essex and (b) mid-Essex are not delayed in (i) getting on a waiting list and (ii) receiving treatment in the last quarter of 2006-07 because they are smokers; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) whether it is Government policy to treat smokers and non-smokers differently (a) when placing them on a waiting list for non-emergency treatment and (b) in respect of the length of time it takes to receive such treatment; and if she will make a statement; 
(3) if she will take steps to ensure that smokers and non-smokers are not treated differently when placed on a waiting list for non-emergency treatment in (a) Essex and (b) mid-Essex in the last quarter of 2006-07. 
Andy Burnham: Primary care trusts commission surgery services based on their assessment of the needs of their local population and available service capacity. The provision and availability of a particular surgical intervention should be dependent on the clinical need of the individual patient.
An assessment of the benefits of stopping smoking ahead of planned surgery was published in May 2006 by the London Health Observatory, entitled Stop before the Op: the short-term benefits of preoperative smoking cessation in London. It estimated that, if London patients admitted for planned surgery were to stop smoking prior to operation, 2,500 to 5,300 fewer post-operative complications would be avoided each year. A copy is available in the Library.
Since December 2005, the maximum waiting time standard for in-patient treatment has been six months. Most patients are admitted a lot quicker and the average (median) wait is now less than seven weeks.
Very clear guidance to the national health service has been issued, stating that clinical need must be the main determinant when prioritising patients.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many acute hospital beds in West Hertfordshire Hospital Trust, including closed bed spaces, there are; and how many there are expected to be once reconfiguration has been completed. 
Andy Burnham: As at November 2006, there were 669 acute hospital beds at West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust. Following the completion of the reconfiguration proposals, there will be 590 acute hospital beds at the trust.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) intensive care and (b) high dependency beds there are in West Hertfordshire Hospital Trust, including closed bed spaces; and how many there are expected to be in each category once reconfiguration has been completed. 
Andy Burnham: West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust currently has 17 intensive treatment unit/high dependency unit (ITU/HDU) beds located between Watford and Hemel Hempstead general hospitals. The beds are used flexibly between ITU and HDU care with the appropriate staffing levels. There are currently no ITU/HDU beds closed at the trust.
Modelling work done by an independent management consultancy company suggests that the proposed centralised service for the trust would require just over 16 ITU/HDU beds. However, the current plans have the flexibility to provide approximately 17-20 ITU/HDU beds.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent steps Waltham Forest primary care trust has taken to avoid unplanned admissions to Whipps Cross hospital for (a) angina and (b) asthma; and how the effectiveness of such steps is being assessed. 
Andy Burnham: I am advised that Waltham Forest primary care trust (PCT) has introduced a range of measures aimed at reducing unplanned admissions to Whipps Cross hospital no matter what condition an individual has.
For asthma, patients attending accident and emergency will be assessed by a specialist nurse, who will assess their treatment with them.
For angina, progress in the management in primary care of patients with ischaemic heart disease is monitored through the quality and outcomes framework of the General Medical Services contact. This enables practices systematically to manage key risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking.
I understand that the effectiveness of these steps the PCT has taken are assessed by the board and the professional executive committee, who receive reports at every meeting on the number of emergency admissions and monitor practice performance under the quality and outcomes framework.
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