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Ms Rosie Winterton: A large amount of correspondence is received by the Department from patients and their representatives each year, including on matters relating to health service consultation. There is no central record kept of the numbers of letters received in relation to health service consultation or of the issues to which they relate.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what account is taken of (a) convictions and (b) accepted cautions when employing (i) doctors, (ii) nurses and (c) other healthcare workers to work for the NHS. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: It is matter for the individual national health service employer to consider declared convictions or cautions on a case-by-case basis. Guidance is available from the NHS Employers website on obtaining CRB checks at:
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the average working hours for (a) staff in her Department, (b) nurses, (c) doctors, (d) other clinicians and (e) all other NHS staff in each year since 1997-98. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not held centrally for either the national health service or Department since staff work a great variety of both full and part-time hours and may work additionally through other mechanisms such as overtime and non-contracted hours. Of course, both the Department and NHS employers must comply with working time regulation requirements.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment her Department has made of the merits of keeping operating theatres open into the evenings for non-emergency procedures. 
Andy Burnham: In 2003-04, a number of national health service trusts piloted the Departments Hospital at Night project, which has subsequently been taken up by many acute hospitals across the service. The NHS Modernisation Agency also published a Step Guide to Improving Operating Theatre Performance in June 2002, which provides advice on improving the efficiency of operating theatres.
However, no specific assessment has been made centrally and it is for NHS organisations locally to decide how best to use their hospital operating theatre capacity to deliver the best services for their patients.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the level of funding to be allocated to the training in specialist orthopaedic (a) surgery and (b) nursing. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 21 February 2007]: Primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for commissioning and funding services for their resident population, including palliative care. It is for PCTs to determine the level of investment required to meet their locally identified priorities, and to commission and fund those services accordingly.
The NHS Cancer Plan made a commitment to provide £50 million additional funding for adult specialised palliative care by 2004, and this has been delivered. This money has been made recurrent in PCT baseline allocations since 2006-07.
In September 2006, I announced the creation of a £40 million capital fund which adult hospices will be able to bid for to improve their physical environments. This money will available to hospices from 2007-08.
In May 2006, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health, announced £27 million of funding for voluntary sector childrens hospice services which is being made available over the three financial years 2006-07 to 2008-09. He has also announced an independent review of the long-term sustainability of funding for palliative care services for children, which is due to report shortly.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her Departments press statement of 23 January 2007 on patient choice, if she will give a breakdown by provider of the 200 hospitals and treatment centres referred to. 
Andy Burnham: Information regarding the choosing your hospital national menu is available on the website www.nhs.uk. The information will be updated as new providers become eligible to join the national menu. The current list of providers eligible to offer services on the national menu is available at:
Andy Burnham: The hospital travel cost scheme will be extended, to include patients referred by health care professionals in a primary care setting, following the conclusion and recommendations of the hospital travel costs scheme consultation which may be found at:
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many (a) NHS prescriptions and (b) NHS prescription items were issued in each of the last 10 years, broken down by (i) those attracting a charge and (ii) those receiving an exemption; 
|Total forms charged||Total forms free||Total items charged||Total items free|
Caroline Flint: Since Paroxetine (brand name Seroxat) was first licensed its safety and that of other medicines in this class has been continually reviewed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and has been considered by the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM, the predecessor to the Commission on Human Medicines) on a number of occasions (in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001). In May 2003, in response to continuing public concern, an expert working group of the CSM was established to further review the safety of these medicines, with a particular focus on suicidal behaviour and the risk of withdrawal reactions.
The conclusions and key findings of the expert group were communicated to health professionals on 6 December 2004. Overall, the expert group concluded that the balance of risks and benefits of all selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in adults remains positive. The key findings of the expert group in relation to suicidal behaviour in adults concluded that based on the available clinical trial data, both published and unpublished, a modest increase in the risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm for SSRIs compared with placebo cannot be ruled out. It was also recommended that prescribers and patients should be made more aware of the side effect profile of these medicines and recommended the need for close monitoring of patients, particularly young adults, being treated for depressive illness or anxiety disorders.
In reaching its conclusions the expert group considered a large body of evidence from a wide range of sources including spontaneous reports of adverse drug reactions (from health professionals and patients), clinical trials, epidemiological databases and the published literature. The published literature included studies which had examined the effect of recent increases in antidepressant prescribing (including SSRIs such as Paroxetine) on national suicide rates. With some exceptions, these studies generally conclude that recent rises in antidepressant prescribing have contributed to declines in suicide. Many factors influence suicide rates and generally definitive explanations for fluctuations in these rates cannot be ascertained. It is encouraging that the latest figures on suicide rates in England show that the national suicide rate continued to fall in 2005 and stood at its lowest ever level.
The safety of Paroxetine remains under continual review. The United States Food and Drug Administration has recently completed a review of adult clinical trials for SSRIs and related antidepressants examining the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour. These data are under consideration by the MHRA and other European regulatory authorities and new prescribing advice will be issued if any update is considered necessary.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the productivity of surgeons who work both for the NHS and the private sector in their (a) NHS and (b) private sector work; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department does not examine the productivity of single staff groups. Delivering high quality healthcare services relies on all staff working together as a team and it is not possible to disentangle the input of single groups.
However, the Department commissioned York University to undertake an analysis using hospital episode statistics data to examine activity rates for consultants in five surgical and five medical specialties across the national health service to support local discussion of consultant clinical activity. It did not look at support staff, teaching and research responsibilities and is intended as a benchmarking tool to support investigation of productivity and best practice at a local level. The results were published in October 2006 in Delivering Quality and Value: Consultant Clinical Activity which is available in the Library.
Andy Burnham: The information is not available in the format requested. The following table shows the median waiting time for an in-patient admission in Dewsbury since 1997, for the years where data are available.
|Median waiting time for an in-patient admission in Dewsbury (provider based)|
|Month end||Organisation name||Median (weeks)|
| Notes: 1. Dewsbury District Health Authority became Dewsbury Healthcare NHS trust in the financial year 1993-04. This merged with other trusts in the financial year 2001-02 to form Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS trust. 2. There are no data available for Dewsbury for the financial year 1993-04. Source: Department of Health, KH07.|
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