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NHS: Vacancies

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many vacancies there were in the NHS for (a) junior doctors, (b) consultants and (c) nurses in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006; and how many there are predicted to be in 2007. [120488]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not collected centrally. Information on vacancies that had lasted for more than three months and that trusts had been actively trying to fill is available since 1999 and can be found on the information centre’s website at:

Copies have also been placed in the Library.

Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which non-departmental public bodies are sponsored by her Department; what the function is of each body; and what the budget was of each body in the most recent year for which figures are available. [116769]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: Details of the remit, Government funding and gross expenditure of public bodies sponsored by the Department can be found in the Cabinet Office publication “Public Bodies 2006”, copies of which are available in the Library and which is also available online at:


Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department expects to publish its Obesity Action Plan. [122981]

Caroline Flint: The Government’s strategy towards tackling obesity has already been published through the “Choosing Health: Obesity Bulletin” published in May of 2006. The Government’s formal response to the Public Accounts Committee eighth report of 2006-07 on tackling child obesity will set out the further plan of action.

Prescriptions: Fees and Charges

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what response she has made to the representations sent to her by English NHS patients on the decision by the Welsh Assembly Government to fund free prescriptions in Wales; [119518]

(2) what effect the recent decision by the Welsh Assembly Government to fund free prescriptions will have on (a) English NHS patients accessing NHS services in Wales and (b) Welsh patients accessing NHS services in England; and if she will make a statement. [119678]

Caroline Flint: The decision to fund free prescriptions in Wales is a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government. There will be no changes to the current arrangements for English national health service patients accessing NHS services in Wales. The English charging arrangements will continue to apply the same as if the prescription was dispensed in England. Welsh patients accessing NHS services in England will be subject to the English charging arrangements with the exception of those patients in border areas who are resident in Wales but registered with English general practitioner practices. We understand that they will be issued with an entitlement card that will allow them to receive free prescriptions from Welsh pharmacies.

Primary Health Care

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what strategy her Department has in place to deliver secondary care services in primary care (a) in Bedfordshire and (b) in England; and if she will make a statement; [122819]

(2) what steps her Department is taking to ensure doctors' surgeries and general practices can undertake the shift in patient services from the secondary sector to primary care; and if she will make a statement. [122821]

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Andy Burnham: How services are delivered locally is a matter for practice based commissioners in collaboration with primary care trusts and local people to decide; there is therefore no centrally driven strategy to deliver secondary care services in primary care in Bedfordshire.

However as we set out in ‘Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: a new direction for community services’ it is our aim for more services to be provided in settings that are convenient for patients and there are a number of mechanisms in place to facilitate this including:

In addition in the summer we will be publishing a report about how services in six speciality areas can be delivered in settings that are more convenient for patients—this report will be based on existing practice in shifting care.

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what support is available to ensure doctors' surgeries and general practices can access funds to invest in appropriate premises to undertake the shift in patient services from the secondary sector to primary care; and if she will make a statement. [122820]

Andy Burnham: We are making £750 million capital funding available over the next five years to fund community hospitals and services. The intention is that
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this funding is used to fund the development of services that deliver more care in settings that are convenient for patients such as community hospitals, primary care centres and services that can be provide in people's homes.

There is also the local improvement finance trust initiative which increasingly is being used to build health centres that provide services that would formerly have been based in hospitals, saving patients long journeys to hospital. These centres also contain a variety of health and social services, so that general practitioners, social workers, a pharmacy and outpatient clinics are all under one roof—again, avoiding the need for journeys between each of these services. To date, primary care trusts (PCTs) have commissioned £1 billion worth of facilities under this initiative.

In addition we have recently announced a 30 per cent. increase in the operational capital allocations for PCTs. This funding can also be used to build new facilities that deliver more services closer to people's homes.

Public Health Improvement

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what campaigns her Department has run to improve public health since May 1997; what the cost was of each; and what assessment she has made of the impact on the relevant health indicators in the following year in each case. [115679]

Caroline Flint: The following table outlines the cost of departmental campaigns undertaken to improve public health since May 1997.

£ million
Campaign 1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06


















Drugs (1)














Hepatitis C










Mental health, Mind Out




Sexwise/teenage pregnancy








Sexual Health














TB awareness












(1) Departmental contribution to the Frank substance misuse campaign is jointly funded by the Department, Home Office (HO) and Department for Education and Skills (DfES)

Each campaign is only one of a number of interventions in the drive to improve public health. It is not possible to separate the impact of these campaigns from that of other interventions or factors which may have influenced public behaviour over the period in question.


As a result of an increase in the number of strains of bacteria developing resistance the Department launched a publicity campaign, aimed at health professionals and the general public, in 1999-2000 to encourage sensible prescribing and use of antibiotics.

The ongoing publicity campaigns inform the public not to routinely expect antibiotics for coughs and colds as antibiotics only work on bacterial infections, and not on most coughs and colds or viral infections. As well as posters and leaflets we also provided general practitioners with pads of non-prescription forms that could be given to patients explaining why the doctor was not prescribing an antibiotic.

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Evaluations have shown that the public has understood the key messages and we believe that they will have contributed to the decrease in antibiotic prescribing in the community.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

The suicide rate in young men is coming down but we do not have direct evidence of the effect or influence of the CALM campaign on that reduction.

This Department campaign came to and end on 31 March 2006. From 1 April 2006 CALM became a charity, not sponsored by the Department.


The FRANK drugs information campaign funded jointly by the Department, the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs targets young people aged 11 to 21 years, particularly vulnerable young people, and the parents or carers of 11-18 year olds. It provides a gateway for information and advice about the effects and risks of drugs, local treatment services and drugs and the law.

The campaign contributes towards the Department’s public service agreement (PSA) target to increase the participation of problem drug users in drug treatment programmes by 100 per cent. by 2008 (from 1998) and increase year on year the proportion of users successfully sustaining or completing treatment programmes.

The PSA target was exceeded in 2005-06 with 181,390 users going in to treatment. The FRANK campaign is now placing particular emphasis on meeting the needs of vulnerable young people as well as supporting a wider programme of activity in support of the joint DfES/Home Office target to reduce the numbers of young people using drugs.

In the two years to April 2006 the talk to FRANK campaign website received over 10 million hits with 500,000 hits to its treatment pages. Over the same period the FRANK helpline received 1.6 million calls and answered 107,000 emails. The helpline has directed over 45,000 young people to treatment services.


The seasonal influenza campaign in the United Kingdom has made considerable progress in increasing the coverage of the at-risk and target population, set against the World Health Organisation 2010 target of 75 per cent. The UK has already achieved this target and among European countries is one of the highest achievers.

Hepatitis C awareness campaign (FaCe It)

One of the main aims of the hepatitis C awareness campaign (FaCe It) is to increase diagnosis and there are two national outcome indicators, drawn from epidemiological surveillance by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), intended to track this.

The first indicator is the total number of laboratory confirmed hepatitis C infection reports. There has been a significant increase in hepatitis C diagnoses in England reported to the HPA through national surveillance from around 5,600 in 2002 to around 7,600 in 2005.

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