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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 15 May 2008

[The following answers were received for publication on 14 May 2008.]


Alcoholic Drinks: Health Education

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when his Department plans to update the Know Your Limits leaflets. [204274]

Dawn Primarolo: The leaflets “Drinking and You” and “Drinking, You and Your Mates” were updated and reprinted in April 2008.

On 19 May, the Department will launch a public information campaign on alcohol units and health, which will include several new leaflets replacing current Know Your Limits leaflets.

Asthma: Health Services

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent steps the Government have taken to improve NHS healthcare services for asthma sufferers. [204994]

Ann Keen: In 2004, the Department introduced a National Service Framework (NSF) for Children, Young People and Maternity Services to set standards. Copies of the NSF are available in the Library. Asthma has a specific care pathway within the NSF, which serves as a benchmark in guiding national health service commissioners in procuring efficient, effective and child/family orientated services, and also serves as a reference for appraisal by families, service commissioners and the Healthcare Commission.

The NHS Choices website, launched June 2007, contains a wide and expanding range of information about asthma to help sufferers manage their condition. This includes information on causation, preventive measures, treatments, and comparative data on primary and secondary care providers. Later this year, an asthma pathway will bring together in one place a range of information about the five stages of the condition.

Published Quality and Outcome Framework scores indicate how each general practitioner practice in England performs in the delivery of recognised best practice in asthma care against the national standard, and that of the local primary care trust.

World-class commissioning is an ambitious initiative that is being rolled out across the entire national health service, with the purpose of strengthening the commissioning of health and wellbeing services across the board. The World-Class Commissioning Programme will improve health outcomes for people with asthma just as it will improve outcomes for people with any
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health need or condition, through transforming the way that health and care services are commissioned.

In addition, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has appraised the following asthma treatments: inhaler systems (devices) in children under the age of five years with chronic asthma; corticosteroids for the treatment of in adults and children aged 12 years and over; corticosteroids for the treatment of chronic asthma chronic asthma in older children (5-15 years) and omalizumab for severe persistent allergic asthma.

Where NICE has given a positive recommendation that the NHS should provide this treatment, primary care trusts are statutorily obliged to provide funding.

Bereavement Counselling: Children

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received on initiatives aimed at assisting bereaved children. [204265]

Ann Keen: The Department has not received any such representations. Over the last three financial years, we have financially supported the Child Bereavement Charity with £109,000 towards the cost of their Communicating with Children - Every Bereaved Child Matters project.

Cystic Fibrosis: Screening

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review his Department's policy on testing for cystic fibrosis carrier status when screening newborn babies for cystic fibrosis. [204082]

Ann Keen: On the recommendation of the United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC), a newborn cystic fibrosis screening programme was introduced in England in 2001 to identify babies with cystic fibrosis. The screening programme is not designed to test for cystic fibrosis carrier status. A small proportion of babies (about one in 100) are unavoidably identified during the testing as cystic fibrosis carriers. This can happen if a mutation analysis of a blood sample is required after the biochemical test. In such cases, in line with other newborn screening programmes, parents will be advised that their child is a carrier. The UK NSC keeps all its policy advice under review.

Statutory Instruments

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many statutory instruments have been (a) made and (b) revoked by Ministers in his Department since 1997. [204766]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Paice) on 25 March 2008, Official Report, column 14-15W.

Doctors: Manpower

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of doctors of each specialty and grade there will be in the NHS in each of the next 10 years. [204226]

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Ann Keen: The numbers of doctors that the national health service requires each year is a matter for determination by local NHS organisations, as they are best placed to assess the health needs of their local health community.

Doubt Kills Campaign

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department has given in grants to the Doubt Kills campaign by the British Heart Foundation. [204941]

Ann Keen: The Department has given no direct funding for the Doubt Kills campaign to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), although the Department does regularly support the BHF through Section 64 grant funding for other purposes.

EU Action

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which consultations undertaken at EU level affecting his Department there were in each of the last 10 years; to which of these his Department (a) responded within the deadline, (b) responded after the deadline and (c) made no response; and in which consultations the Department secured all the aims of its consultation response in the ensuing action taken by the European Commission. [205556]

Dawn Primarolo: In response to any consultation at European Union (EU) level, the Department always aims to meet the stated deadline. If this is not possible, we negotiate an extension when required. We are committed to keeping scrutiny committees fully engaged in accordance with Government guidance and always aim to influence the consultation process as constructively as possible and robustly where necessary. However, comprehensive information on all EU-level consultations affecting the Department in the last 10 years is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Food: Safety

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which local authorities were participating in the Food Standard Agency's Scores on Doors scheme at the latest date for which information is available. [204533]

Dawn Primarolo: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has sponsored pilot schemes of a variety of designs and involving a total of 47 local authorities(1). A number of other local authorities have implemented schemes independently of the FSA in response to local needs.

There has been widespread support for a nationwide scheme to ensure clarity for consumers and consistency for businesses. In view of this, the FSA will shortly be launching a public consultation on proposals for introducing a United Kingdom-wide scheme.

Health Centres

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department's definition of a health centre is. [205200]

Mr. Bradshaw: “Health centre” is a term used to describe a range of health services characterised by the co-location and integration of different services, including those traditionally provided in a hospital setting. The scope and scale of these services will be determined by local commissioners in collaboration with clinicians and patients to reflect local needs and circumstances.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which team within his Department leads on plans for a new GP-led health centre in each primary care trust area. [205218]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Commissioning and System Management Directorate supported by the Commercial Directorate are jointly assisting the national health service to deliver the new general practitioner (GP) led health centres and new GP practices in poorly served areas.

Health Services: Rural Areas

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that people with mobility problems or other disabilities secondary to chronic health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis will be able to access polyclinics and other primary care services in rural areas. [204746]

Mr. Bradshaw: The premises from where such services are to be delivered must comply with the Disability Discrimination Act. It is for primary care trusts to develop, in consultation with local people, general practitioners and others, the services within the health centre that best reflect local needs.

Health: Children

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the (a) levels of obesity and (b) general health of school children in England in the last three years. [204375]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is not available in the exact format requested.

Data on the prevalence of obesity and self-reported general health among children aged two to 10, 11 to 15, and two to 15 between 1995 and 2006 can be found in the “Health Survey for England 2006 latest trends”, published 31 January 2008. The data are presented in table 4 (obesity) and table 8 (general health) of the “Children trend tables 2006”. This publication is available in the Library.

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Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether Ministers from his Department have (a) authorised parliamentary counsel to assist in preparing amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill on behalf of private Members and (b) authorised officials to instruct parliamentary counsel to prepare amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which were subsequently passed to private Members in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [205072]

Dawn Primarolo: Ministers from the Department have on no occasions either authorised parliamentary counsel to assist in preparing amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill on behalf of private Members, or authorised officials to do so.

Meat Hygiene Service

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1801W, on the Meat Hygiene Service, what assessment he has made of the effect of the changes referred to in the answer on the functioning of Red Lion Abattoir, Nantwich. [205550]

Dawn Primarolo: We have been advised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that the new approach to charging for the costs of the delivery of official controls in approved meat plants, referred to in the earlier answer, continues to be developed with stakeholders, including representatives of abattoir operators. The FSA Board will discuss proposals for this and an impact assessment at its meeting on 17 July 2008. The intention will be for a full public consultation to start in late summer to enable the new approach to charging to be introduced from late March 2009, subject to consideration of the consultation responses and of the associated impact assessment. It is too early to assess the impact of the proposals on individual abattoirs.

Mesothelioma: Health Services

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate his Department has made of the funds and resources required to implement the mesothelioma framework. [204680]

Ann Keen: The Department has estimated that implementing the mesothelioma framework will be largely cost neutral as it builds on service structures already in place for the treatment of lung cancer.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations his Department has received on the implementation of the mesothelioma framework. [204681]

Ann Keen: The Department received 10 representations on the implementation of mesothelioma in response to a campaign letter seeking support for the ‘Action Mesothelioma Day’ parliamentary reception held on 27 February 2008.

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NHS: Armed Forces

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of NHS employees who were also serving members of the British armed forces in each of the last 10 years. [204474]

Ann Keen: The Department does not collect data about the number of national health service employees who are serving members of the armed forces. Last year the Ministry of Defence carried out an exercise to assess the number of United Kingdom health care professionals serving in the Volunteer Reserves and estimated this to be around 1,600.


Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what mechanisms he has put in place to monitor the effectiveness of the NHS's contract with DHL for the delivery of medical supplies; what estimate he has made of the effect on costs of the contract over its lifetime; and if he will make a statement. [204127]

Mr. Bradshaw: DHL is contracted to run the business operation now known as NHS Supply Chain and has committed to key performance indicators (KPIs), including service delivery and financial targets. A business plan has been submitted to deliver savings of £1 billion over 10 years.

While the contractual high level KPIs are used for performance and penalty reporting, lower level KPIs are used predicatively and diagnostically to forecast and understand performance.

KPI information is produced for the lifetime of the contract in the form of standard reports, which are monitored and evaluated by the Supply Chain Management Division (SCMD) of the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) which has been set up to manage DHL performance. Along with KPI measurement, rigorous process evaluation and gateway reviews, the SCMD are audited to ensure processes and procedures for managing the contract are robust.

The SCMD will liaise with key stakeholders via appropriate forums and feedback routes to ensure that service delivery reflects customers' needs and that the outsourcing delivers value for money. The master service agreement gives the NHSBSA full audit rights of NHS Supply Chain.

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