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8 Jan 2007 : Column 347W—continued

NHS Trusts: Financial Deficits

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many trusts in deficit have had their deficit converted to public dividend capital; what the criteria are for converting deficits to public dividend capital; and if she will make a statement. [113579]

Andy Burnham: A deficit arises when a national health service trust’s revenue expenditure exceeds its revenue income. Public dividend capital (PDC) is the cash allocated to an NHS organisation to fund capital expenditure. It is not technically possible to convert deficits (an income and expenditure concept) to PDC (a cash concept).

NHS Trusts: Prompt Payment

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the promptness of payments to suppliers by NHS trusts; what mechanisms are in place to monitor their performance in this regard; and if she will take steps to ensure that NHS trusts keep to contract terms in paying suppliers. [R] [113007]

Andy Burnham: In 2005-06 national health service trusts paid 78 per cent. of non NHS bills within 30 days or contract terms. This is the most recent period for which figures are available.

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The Department requires NHS trusts to comply with the Confederation of British Industry’s Better Payment Practice Code (BPPC) which sets a target of paying 95 per cent. of undisputed invoices within contract terms or 30 days where no terms have been agreed.

It is the responsibility of strategic health authorities to monitor the performance of individual national health service bodies, report this performance to the Department and work with poor performing organisations to achieve and maintain a level of payment performance consistent with government accounting regulations and the Better Payment Practice Code target.

North Bristol Trust

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the letter of 15 December from the right hon. the Lord Warner to the hon. Member for Northavon, if she will set out in full the reasons why North Bristol Trust was not supported for foundation trust status; and if she will place in the Library a copy of the correspondence between (a) her Department and (b) Monitor to North Bristol Trust conveying the reasons for that decision. [112889]

Andy Burnham: The Secretary of State has deferred support for the trust as it is required to repay a significant debt to the Department in respect of an earlier income and expenditure deficit. The trust requires more time to make the necessary arrangements to fund the repayment and ensure that it remains financially viable.

A copy of the correspondence between the Department and the trust has been placed in the Library. There has been no correspondence between Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts) and the trust because the trust has not reached Monitor's assessment stage for authorisation as a national health service foundation trust.

Patient Forums

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of patient forum members at the beginning of 2006; and what her most recent estimate is. [113179]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not collected by the Department but is by the Commission for Patient and Pubic Involvement in Health (CPPIH). The CPPIH’s figures show that at the start of 2006 there were 569 forums in operation with a total membership of 4,666. Following the reduction of primary care trusts from 303 to 152 in October this year there are currently 398 forums in operation with 4,281 participating members.

Private Finance Initiative Projects

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent by her Department on private finance initiative projects postponed pending further consideration or stopped in the last 12 months. [112665]

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Andy Burnham: The Department announced on the 18 January 2006 that it would be reviewing all private finance initiative schemes yet to reach financial close and with an expected capital value of greater than £75 million. The purpose of the review process is to deliver schemes that are financially viable and sustainable over the long-term, and in pursuit of achieving these objectives certain schemes have experienced limited delays.

In conducting the review process, the Department has so far incurred costs of £220,271. These costs do not include any incurred by the trusts themselves.

Prostate Cancer

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on the prostate cancer awareness campaign pilot announced in 2005; and when she expects to make a decision on the national roll-out of the scheme. [113181]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has collaborated with the prostate cancer charter for action to fund a pilot public awareness programme on the prostate and its function. The Department provided £100,000 towards the pilot, with signatories to the charter providing a further £50,000.

The pilot took place in Coventry in October 2006, and an independent evaluation is now assessing the effectiveness of the messages used in the pilot, the interventions used to promote the messages, and the impact the pilot has had on national health service services. The evaluation is expected to report in early 2007. The learning from this pilot will help us in deciding the way forward on the public awareness of prostate cancer.

Public Involvement

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the model contract on the role for local involvement networks and their relationships with local authorities will be set out. [105358]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government response document to ”A Stronger Local Voice”, published on Monday 11 December, provides some detail about the proposed model contract between local authorities and the hosts of Local Involvement Networks. This contract is being developed with the involvement of stakeholders and will be consulted upon in the new year. The Government response document to “A Stronger Local Voice” is available in the Library and can be found at the following website address:

Severalls Hospital

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects the sale of Severalls Hospital in Colchester to be completed; and if she will make a statement. [110362]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

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English Partnerships and its partner organisations have now completed all the necessary agreements to dispose of the Severalls site. For commercial reasons English Partnerships and its partners have decided to market the site early in new year with a view to completing the sale in autumn 2007.

Sexual Health

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many sexual health leads as recommended in the 2001 National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV are employed in primary care trusts and strategic health authorities. [113372]

Caroline Flint: Most primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) have a lead for sexual health and HIV, however, exact numbers are still being clarified following the recent re-configuration of the national health service. Details of the employment of these leads are not held by the Department.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the Government plan to make an assessment of the effectiveness of its sexual health campaign Condom Essential Wear in reducing sexual transmitted infections for 18 to 24-year-olds. [113373]

Caroline Flint: We will be evaluating the success of the “Condom Essential Wear” campaign by conducting regular surveys among our target audience to measure campaign awareness and changes in attitudinal and behavioural indicators such as condom usage and attitudes to sex, relationships, contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

We will measure changes in behaviour and attitudes against a benchmark survey carried out in advance of the campaign launch in November 2006.

Increased awareness of STIs and improved technology may lead to more people presenting for testing so decreases in levels of infections may not be seen immediately.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to publish her Department’s response to the Independent Advisory Group report on sexual health published on 14 December 2006. [113374]

Caroline Flint: We plan to publish our response to the Independent Advisory Group’s report before the end of March 2007.


Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what evidence her Department has assessed on the effectiveness of statins in reducing the five-year incidence of (a) major coronary events and (b) stroke; and if she will make a statement; [113059]

(2) if she will assess the likely savings in health care costs which would result from lowering mean low density lipopropein cholesterol levels by one millimol per litre in the population at high risk of (a) coronary diseases and (b) cerebrovascular disease; and if she will make a statement. [113062]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) published a health technology appraisal (HTA) on statins in January 2006. This took account of all available evidence and concluded that it was both clinically-effective and cost-effective to intervene with statin therapy in patients who scored a 20 per cent. or greater 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), regardless of the starting cholesterol. This updates the national service framework for coronary heart disease (CHD) which had set the threshold for intervention at a 30 per cent. 10-year risk of CHD, both by lowering the intervention threshold and by including the range of vascular conditions—including cerebrovascular disease—which are together termed CVD.

More details can be found on the NICE website at:

Cost-effectiveness estimates vary as costs change. The cost of generic statins came down sharply while the HTA was in preparation and has dropped again since its publication. The NICE website therefore includes a tool which the national health service can use to determine current cost-effectiveness in their local health economies.

Waiting Times

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting list time was for (a) all hospital patients and (b) cancer patients on (i) 2nd May 1997 and (ii) the most recent date for which figures are available. [106390]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The median waiting times for in-patient admission has decreased from 13.2 weeks in March 1997 to 6.9 weeks in October 2006.

Average waiting times for cancer patients are not available centrally. Latest published figures show that 95 per cent. of patients are treated within two months of urgent GP referral. There are no equivalent figures for 1997, but this compares to 78 per cent. of patients treated within two months of urgent GP referral in June 2004, when this information was first published.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking to urge restraint and compromise among Bangladesh’s political parties and to defuse tension ahead of the national parliamentary elections. [112797]

Dr. Howells: We continue to take a very close interest in the political process and preparations for the elections due in Bangladesh. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Trade during a visit to Dhaka in November, emphasised to the leaders of the main parties the need for responsible leadership and restraint. Officials from our high commission in Dhaka continue to press the political parties to act positively and constructively towards ensuring free, fair and
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accepted elections. Our high commissioner in Dhaka did so most recently when he met the leaders of the main parties on 24 December and on 1 January.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the scale of recent protests in Santa Cruz; and what representations she is making to the Bolivian Government on a peaceful resolution to these protests. [113081]

Mr. Hoon: Hundreds of thousands of protesters took part in the recent protests in Santa Cruz and other states in Eastern Bolivia. There were also smaller counter-demonstrations by government supporters. Events are being closely monitored by our embassy in La Paz and discussed with EU colleagues. The EU Troika has been making representations to all sides in the disputes, urging them to attempt to reach consensus through dialogue.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the military activities of armed groups in eastern Chad; what representations she has received from (a) the UK ambassador to the UN and (b) her counterparts on the Security Council on those activities; and what her most recent assessment is of the security situation in Darfur. [112795]

Mr. McCartney: We are very concerned about the ongoing violence in eastern Chad, both by armed groups spilling over the border from Darfur and by groups internal to Chad. We continue to call on the Governments of Sudan and Chad to stop supporting each others’ rebels and to fulfil their obligations under the Tripoli Agreement.

Our ambassador to the UN met the Chad Foreign Minister on 20 December. He impressed on Chad the need for a resolution of the crisis in Darfur and an improvement in relations between Chad and Sudan, with both countries implementing the Tripoli Agreement in order to improve stability in the region.

We remain in contact with other members of the UN Security Council on the situation in Chad. The UN Secretary-General is due to report to the Security Council shortly on options for an international presence along Chad’s border with Darfur. We will consider his recommendations carefully.

The situation on the ground in Darfur was relatively calm over the last week of December and early January. However, there remains a strong possibility of a resumption of violence after the Eid al Adha holiday and the underlying security problems remain in place.


Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Chinese authorities on harvesting of organs in China. [113408]

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Mr. McCartney: The Government have raised concerns about the use of organs from executed prisoners for transplantation with the Chinese government on a number of occasions, most recently at the last round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in July 2006. The Government welcomed the regulation, which came into effect in China on 1 July 2006, banning the sale of organs and introducing medical standards for organ transplants. But we remain concerned that the regulations do not comply with the requirement for donation to be based on full, free and informed consent, as set out by the World Medical Association and the World Health Organisation.

We have received no evidence to date to substantiate media reports of large-scale organ harvesting in China. The Chinese government has denied such allegations.

European Common Asylum Policy

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the European Common Asylum Policy. [113497]

Mr. Hoon: The UK has opted-in to all asylum directives and is in the process of implementing the first stage of the Common European Asylum system. At the European Council in December 2006 EU member states agreed to realise the Common European Asylum System by the end of 2010, starting with a preliminary evaluation of its first phase in 2007. The development of its second phase will be accompanied by a strengthening of practical co-operation in the area of asylum.

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