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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the impact of payment by results on the financial position of hospital trusts (a) in England and (b) in North Yorkshire; and if she will make a statement. 
Andy Burnham: The financial position of national health service trusts is subject to continual monitoring. The impact of the implementation of payment by results is the focus of an independent evaluation project being undertaken by the University of Aberdeen, supported by the University of Dundee and the Office of Health Economics in London.
Andy Burnham: There are no plans to outsource a set proportion of the national health service's accounting and finance jobs to India. NHS shared Business Services Ltd. (SBS) is a 50:50 joint venture with Xansa, a listed plc, which offers a range of finance and accounting services to the NHS on a commercial basis.
It is for each trust to decide if it wants to contract for these services, a decision which will be based on price, quality and service. Given that the United Kingdom business is based in Wakefield, a decision to contract with NHS SBS results in staff being displaced locally.
|£ million||Increase in real term s (Percentage)||Increase in cash terms (Percentage)|
Ms Rosie Winterton: The latest data collected were for March 2006 through the national health service vacancy survey. This collects vacancies that the trusts have actively been trying to fill for the last three months.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent by her Department on palliative care services in each of the last five years for which figures are available, broken down by health authority. 
Mr. Clelland: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average number was of people on waiting lists for (a) radiotherapy, (b) chemotherapy and (c) other treatments for prostate cancer in the latest period for which figures are available; and what the average waiting time was in the same period. 
Ms Rosie Winterton:
Statistics on average waiting times for cancer patients and average waiting times for
different types of cancer treatment are not collected centrally. Cancer waiting times standards of a maximum wait of 31 days from diagnosis to first cancer treatment, and a maximum wait of 62 days from urgent referral for suspected cancer to first cancer treatment were introduced for all cancer patients from December 2005. In the last quarter (October to December 2006) performance against these standards was 99.6 per cent. and 96.3 per cent. respectively.
Ms Rosie Winterton: Developing policy which benefits all sectors of the community is absolutely central to the role of the Department, and we have a strong commitment to promoting race equality. The Department welcomed the Prostate Cancer Charter for Actions report, Tackling Prostate Cancer in Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Groups, published in September 2006. We know that men of African origin are more at risk of developing prostate cancer, and the Department funded two of the key studies featured in the report, the successful African Caribbean Awareness Project and the Prostate Cancer in Ethnic Subgroups research study.
Good progress has been made in considering the recommendations of the report. The recommendations were included for consideration in the cancer equality action plan, which fed into the Department action plan to support the publication of the single equality scheme on 4 December 2006.
With specific reference to treatment, the cancer action team (CAT) have appointed to the post of Associate Director: Patient Experience. This post is being funded by the National Audit Office, and the postholder begins work on 1 April 2007. Responsibilities will cover equality issues for cancer, including prostate cancer, as follows:
provide leadership on BME issues within the CAT;
promote the establishment of a forum of the key stakeholders working with BME communities and work with them to facilitate the sharing of good practice; and
work with key stakeholders and selected cancer networks to develop best practice guidance for cancer networks (including needs of local population, awareness raising, information and support for patients, end of life care and promoting the implementation of guidance).
Ms Rosie Winterton:
The Department has commissioned and funded two research studies on fluoridation and health. A Systematic Review of Public Water Fluoridation published by the University of York in 2000 identified two studies,
which found no significant association between thyroid disorders and water fluoridation, and one study with a positive association. However, the positive study looked at combined fluoride/iodine intakes and has not been published in a peer review journal.
Water Fluoridation and Health published by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in 2002 endorsed Yorks recommendation on the need for further research into fluoridation, but accorded low priority to further research on thyroid disorders. This was because the MRC judged the scientific plausibility of an association between water fluoridation and thyroid disease to be low.
Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) occupied consultant posts and (b) locums there are in the opthalmology units of the (i) Alexandra and Princess of Wales, (ii) Worcester Royal and (iii) Kidderminster hospitals; and what population is served by each. 
The Department collects data on the number of consultants and locums working in the ophthalmology speciality, but these are at national health service trust level rather than by individual hospital. Data on the number of consultants and locums working in ophthalmology in Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Alexandra, Worcester Royal and Kidderminster hospitals as at 30 September 2005, are shown in the table. The same data source show that Worcester primary care trust (PCT), which runs the Princess of Wales community hospital, did not have any ophthalmology staff working for them in the same time period.
| Note: Locum data are not collected to the same level of detail and validation as the main workforce census. Locum figures are therefore rounded to the nearest 10 due to data quality. Locum data exclude staff who already hold a substansive contract. Source: The Information Centre for health and social care medical and dental workforce census.|
The Department holds data on population numbers, but this is at PCT-level rather than by individual hospital. The general practitioner (GP) population data collected in April 2005 for GP relevant populations as at April 2004, showed Worcester PCT as serving a population of 542,261. Please note that these data have been constrained to the Office for National Statistics 2004 mid-year population estimates, based on the 2001 Census, but do not include armed forces and some prisoners.
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what representations the Electoral Commission has received from Equifax on the reliability of signature scans to verify postal votes. 
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission if he will place in the Library copies of the correspondence between the Electoral Commission and the Department of Constitutional Affairs on remote electronic voting pilots in the 2007 local elections. 
Peter Viggers: This is a matter for the parties concerned. However, I am informed by the Electoral Commission that copies have been placed in the Library, along with a note setting out the context of the correspondence. The Electoral Commission's letter of 1 December 2006 to the Department for Constitutional Affairs commenting on the pilot scheme applications for the May 2007 elections is also available on its website at:
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1015W, on elections, if he will place in the Library a copy of the new guidance manual and polling station handbook. 
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what the timetable is for the Electoral Commission to complete its analysis of the Crown Prosecution Service records of cases of alleged offences under electoral legislation; and whether its analysis is planned to be placed in the public domain. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it will be publishing on its website later this week an initial analysis of the relevant Crown Prosecution Service files. It will also place a copy in the Library. The Commission intends to continue this work, and will report further in due course.
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission how much the Electoral Commission spent on (a) sponsoring newspaper or publication supplements and (b) funding advertorials in newspapers or publications in the last year for which figures are available; and what the topic of each was. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it spent £4,800 in 2005-06 on funding advertorials in eight regional newspapers in Northern Ireland to provide registration and voter information prior to the 2005 general election. It also spent £1,736 on sponsoring a student magazine in Northern Ireland, with the specific aim of conveying the same information to young people, an under-registered section of society.
Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps local authorities have taken to protect the personal identifiers collected from postal voters from being (a) sold to third party companies and (b) used by (i) credit reference agencies and (ii) other non-governmental bodies. 
Bridget Prentice: Personal identifiers for postal voters are personal data held by an Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) not a local authority. Under the Electoral Administration Act 2006, they may only be disclosed to: other EROs to help them carry out their duties; returning officers at an election; persons involved in the preparation or conduct of legal proceedings under the Representation of the People Act 1983, such as the police or an election petition court.
Also, at the checking of postal votes at an election, candidates and their agents may see the personal identifiers relating to any postal votes that the returning officer is minded to reject, and they may also be disclosed to election observers, but only to the extent required to permit them to observe the proceedings.
There is no provision in legislation for personal identifiers collected from postal voters to be sold to third party companies or to be used by other non-governmental bodies such as credit reference agencies.
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