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12 Jun 2007 : Column 993W—continued

( Handheld mobile phones and base station installations in the United Kingdom are designed to comply with international exposure guidelines. The Stewart Report, however, also recommended further research as part of an overall precautionary approach to the use of mobile phone technology pending the availability of more robust scientific research results.

The independently managed Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme, jointly funded by Government and industry, was set up in 2001 in response to the Stewart Report recommendations. It is currently supporting a number of studies into the possible health effects of technology relating to masts (base stations) and handheld mobile phones. These studies, some in progress and some already published, are described on the MTHR website at

Research on the potential health effects from mobile phone technology is evaluated periodically by the Health Protection Agency’s Radiation Protection Division. The report entitled “Mobile Phones and Health 2004” (Documents of the NRPB, Volume 15, No. 5) is available in the Library and at

Health Hazards: Radiation

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when 140 Osier Crescent, London N10 was last tested for polonium; and with what result. [133039]

Mr. McNulty: I have been asked to reply.

This is now a matter for the local authority, but we understand Haringey council has indicated that 140 Osier Crescent was last tested for polonium on 25 May 2007.

They are currently awaiting the results, which will be placed in the public domain when they are available.

Human Embryo Experiments

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) for what reasons she proposes to exclude pure hybrids from the licensing regime proposed in Clause 17 and Schedule 2 of the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill; [142320]

(2) on what basis she proposes that the mixing of human and animal gametes will be allowed for the purpose of testing fertility and normality of human sperm under Schedule 2, paragraph 6 of the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill. [142322]

Caroline Flint: Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, the mixing of human sperm and animal eggs is only permitted, for assessment of the
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fertility of normality of sperm, or research aiming to improve the assessment of the fertility or normality of sperm. Such testing and research involves analysis of the cellular processes which take place between the point of sperm penetration, and first cell division of the embryo. The Act thus states that any embryo created using this technique must be destroyed no later than at the two cell stage.

The Government believe there is, at present, a lack of merit in relaxing the current limitation the development of true hybrids.

The Government indicated in the introduction to the draft Bill that they intend to accept the principle that legislation should provide for certain inter-species embryos—cybrids, human-animal transgenic embryos and human-animal chimeras—to be authorised by research licence.

The Bill will have the flexibility for affirmative regulations to allow the creation both of new types of inter-species embryos and of true hybrids to be authorised by research licence if necessary in the light of evidence of the need for it.

Hyperactivity: Drugs

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in (a) England and (b) Maidenhead were prescribed methylphenidate drugs in each year between 1997 and 2006. [139193]

Caroline Flint: The Department does not hold data on the number of patients prescribed methylphenidate hydrochloride drugs. In terms of the number of prescription items dispensed in the community in England, I refer the right hon. Lady to the answer given on 9 May, Official Report, column 279W.

Data on the number of prescription items prescribed in the community and then dispensed are collected at primary care trust (PCT) level. The equivalent PCTs to the constituency of Maidenhead are the combination of Berkshire East PCT (formerly Bracknell Forest, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead and Slough) and Berkshire West PCT (formerly Newbury and Community, Reading and Wokingham) created in October 2006.

Data for these combined PCTs are provided in the following table.

Number of prescription items dispensed









Local data are from the prescription pricing division's (PPD's) prescribing analysis and cost tool (PACT) system. This is held for a maximum of 60 months only, therefore data areprovided from 2003 onwards.
Prescribing Analysis and Cost Tool (PACT) system

Incontinence: Medical Equipment

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 21 May 2007, Official Report, column 1130W, on incontinence and stoma
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appliances, when she expects the evaluation of the responses to the consultation to be completed; and if she will make a statement. [140089]

Caroline Flint: It has been announced that due to the volume and complexity of responses received to the consultations that closed on 2 April 2007, the Department has decided that it needs more time to analyse the information provided. Consequently, no changes will be implemented in July 2007 as proposed in the consultation documents. Moreover, we do not expect that the review will be completed before the end of the year.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will place in the Library a copy of the draft proposal for submission to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence asking the institute to consider including a comparison of the different types of insulin in its future work programme, as referred to in the letter of 19 December 2006 to the hon. Member for Torbay from the Minister for quality and delivery. [136750]

Caroline Flint: The National Clinical Director for Diabetes, Dr. Sue Roberts, has convened a liaison group to inform the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) work programme on a range of diabetes issues. This approach has been taken to support NICE in addressing and reflecting the needs of the diabetes community.

The group is due to meet shortly, and will discuss a range of diabetes issues, including the therapeutic use of insulins.

Internet: Health Hazards

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the health effects of wireless internet networks, with particular reference to those in schools. [141102]

Caroline Flint: The independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) undertook a comprehensive assessment of radio waves and health in 2003. Its report, entitled “Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields”, was published by the then National Radiological Protection Board (now the Radiation Protection Division of the Health Protection Agency (HPA)). Copies are available in the Library and on the HPA website at:

All devices that emit radio waves (such as wireless internet) should be used in compliance with the exposure guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) as specified in the European Recommendation on limiting public exposure to electromagnetic fields (EC/519/1999).

Information about wireless devices and health is available on the Department’s website at:

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In response to recent media and public concern about the use of wireless computer networks in schools the HPA has provided further advice at:


Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many primary care trusts provide in vitro fertilisation on the NHS. [140983]

Caroline Flint: This information is not collected centrally as a matter of routine. We are aware that most primary care trusts (PCT) are providing at least one cycle of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Northamptonshire Primary Care Trust is now restarting the provision of IVF following a temporary period of suspension. We are working with the patient support organisation Infertility Network UK to help PCTs share best practice in the provision of fertility services and engage with fertility patients in the planning and prioritisation of services.

Medical Equipment

Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment her Department has made of the extent of implementation of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency guidelines on managing medical devices by NHS trusts; [135636]

(2) what responsibility the Healthcare Commission has to report (a) on and (b) to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency on the compliance of NHS trusts with guidelines on managing medical devices; [135641]

(3) whether the Healthcare Commission has powers to enforce Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency guidelines on managing medical devices. [135662]

Caroline Flint: The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published its updated Device Bulletin on the management of medical devices in November 2006. The MHRA does not have powers to enforce its advice, which is for guidance only; the Healthcare Commission does not have powers to enforce MHRA advice either. It is the responsibility of each NHS organisation to ensure that appropriate governance systems are in place to ensure that medical devices are managed and used correctly.

The Healthcare Commission assesses the performance of the NHS against the standards set out in Standards for Better Health (Department of Health 2004). In carrying out its assessments, the Commission looks specifically at, among other aspects of safety, the management of risks associated with the acquisition, use, and proper decontamination of medical devices in accordance with guidance issued by the MHRA.

If an organisation is found not to be complying with a core standard, it is the responsibility of the relevant strategic health authority (SHA) in the first instance to support it to achieve the necessary improvement. In exceptional individual cases where an organisation's failure to comply with a compulsory core standard is of significant and sufficient concern, and where the
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Department and the SHA agree that departmental engagement can add value, the Department would work with the SHA to ensure that improvement was made.

The Healthcare Commission reports to the Secretary of State. The Commission publishes its assessment of NHS performance in its annual health check; performance ratings for 2005-06 were published in October 2006 and are publicly available on the Commission's website at

Medical Records: EC Countries

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has (a) to permit and (b) to implement the transfer of patient information between member states of the European Union, as referred to in paragraph 3.1.1. of the European Commission’s Consultation on Community Action on Health Services, published on 26 September 2006. [131858]

Caroline Flint: In collaboration with the European Commission and other European health administrations we are exploring ways in which citizens could, if they so choose, make key health data available when seeking treatment in other European states, subject to stringent confidentiality safeguards. This work is at a very early stage and complex technical and information governance issues have yet to be resolved. In particular, any transfer of patient information would need to be in line with the undertakings given in the NHS Care Record Guarantee, and subject to compliance with the European Union Data Protection Directive.

The consultation acknowledges work that is already under way in some member states in developing interoperability standards for electronic medical records. The Department’s NHS Connecting for Health agency is in fact the global leader in healthcare interoperability. NHS Connecting for Health have developed the message implementation manual which uses the international standard HL7V3 to define a standards-based approach to clinical message interchange. These messages are used by the systems which have been through the NHS Connecting for Health national integration centre, to create the largest range of heterogeneous interoperable systems in healthcare globally, with in excess of 100 certified systems. This interoperability framework is underpinned by a robust and resilient messaging infrastructure, known as the spine, which already supports the transfer of many millions of messages every week across the national health service.

Another key aspect of healthcare system interoperability is the consistent use of a clinical terminology. NHS Connecting for Health have been instrumental in the establishment, and are a founding member of the Standards Development Organisation, which has acquired the intellectual property rights for SNOMED-CT, an international standard for codifying clinical data.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department will respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Billericay of 16 May 2007 on the
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proposed Independent Sector Treatment Centre for Basildon. [142450]

Andy Burnham: The reply to the hon. Gentleman's letter of 14 March, which was the subject of his further letter, was sent on 16 May.

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps were taken by her Department in response to the letter from the Head of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre at the Public Health Laboratory Service dated 9 May 1983; and if she will make a statement. [140981]

Caroline Flint: The “Review of Documentation Relating to the Safety of Blood Products 1970-1985 (Non-A, Non-B Hepatitis)” was released on 22 May, together with the references identified in the review. An additional 4,600 documents were identified during the review, including those relating to HIV/AIDS, and it has been agreed that these documents will be released in line with the Freedom of Information Act. Numerous documents are already in the public domain.

The issue of AIDS and licensed blood products was discussed at the Committee on Safety of Medicines Sub-Committee on Biological Products at a meeting on 13 July 1983, at which the Head of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre at the Public Health Laboratory Service was present. A copy of these minutes, together with a paper considered by the Committee on Safety of Medicines, are in the public domain.

Any further documents relevant to action in relation to the letter from the Head of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre will be released with the documents currently being prepared for release.

NHS: Databases

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which data set change notices were issued under her authority to NHS organisations in each year since 1997-98. [135891]

Caroline Flint: The NHS Information Standards Board has responsibility for assuring and signing off information standards for use in the national health service in England. The Board has had direct responsibility for the publication of approved information standards—Data Set Change Notices (DSCNs)—since October 2005. The accountability of the Board's chairman, Professor Martin Severs, is to the NHS chief executive.

A table of all DSCNs published since 1997 has been placed in the Library. The number of DSCNs published in each year is shown in the table.

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Yearly totals

























(1) To date.

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