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19 May 2008 : Column 116W—continued

The published reports provide statistics on "non-routine” requests received during each period where: an initial response was provided within 20 working days; an initial response was given outside this time but a public interest test extension had been applied; an initial response was given outside this time and no public interest test extension was applied, and where no initial response had been given at the time the statistics were collected.

The 2006 annual report provides statistics on the duration of the public interest test extensions in that year. Corresponding statistics for 2007 will be available when the 2007 annual report is published.

Information on requests where deadlines were extended beyond 40 days is not collected in the form requested.

Departmental Sick Leave

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many working days were lost by his Department due to stress-related illness in each of the last 24 months. [198937]


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Mr. Bradshaw: The Department does not record sickness absence due to stress, but uses a broader category of “mental health, including depression, anxiety and potential stress-related problems”. We do not monitor working days lost by reason each month, but produce information on a rolling year basis. The total number of working days lost for this reason in the calendar year 2007 was 2,097.

The Department has recently improved its internal reporting of sickness absence by reason by drawing information direct from its payroll system. This was in response to concerns that some absences on its human resources system were not being closed properly, leading to absence levels being overestimated. The 2006 figure of 4,305 working days lost is therefore an overestimate and not directly comparable with 2007.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many days sick leave were taken on average by staff in his Department in each of the last five years. [198948]

Mr. Bradshaw: Until recently the Cabinet Office produced annual reports of sickness absence across the civil service. Recent figures taken from these on average working days lost (AWDL) due to sickness per member of staff in the Department are:

Coverage AWDL

2006-07

Financial year

Core Department only

6.5

2005

Calendar year

Core Department only

7.0

2004

Calendar year

Department and its agencies

3.8

2003

Calendar year

Department and its agencies

5.4

2002

Calendar year

Department and its agencies

4.7


The change in the figures from calendar years to financial year between 2005 and 2006-07 reflects a change in the annual period covered by the reports. The change from the Department and its agencies to the Core Department only between 2004 and 2005 reflects a change in the level of aggregation of information in the reports.

Drugs: Misuse

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has commissioned into the (a) levels and (b) implications for public health of cocaine abuse in urban areas. [201622]

Dawn Primarolo: Provision of trend data on the level of use of cocaine and other illegal drugs is a matter for the Home Office.

Cocaine is a class A drug and its harmful effects on the health of individuals are well known. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs keeps the available evidence on the harms of cocaine, and other drugs, under review. Through campaigns such as Frank, the Department will continue to promote the message that cocaine use is harmful and should be avoided.


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Electromagnetic Fields: EU Law

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what meetings he has had with his European counterparts on the revision of the Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields) Directive; and when he expects the proposal for a revised Directive to be brought forward. [204229]

Mrs. McGuire: I have been asked to reply.

There have been no ministerial discussions with European counterparts. However, officials from the Health and Safety Executive have recently met with representatives of the European Commission, and also those of other member states and interested stakeholders, to discuss the way forward for this directive. The European Commission has indicated that it intends to carry out a full impact assessment and will engage in social dialogue before publishing a proposal for a revised directive. This is unlikely to emerge before 2010.

Food: Salt

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the proportion of the population which consumes six grams or less of salt per day. [206112]

Dawn Primarolo: The last estimate of salt intakes, via urinary analysis, which was carried out in 2005-06 suggests that 11 per cent. of men and 30 per cent. of women, aged 19 to 64 years, consumed an average of 6 grams of salt or less per day.

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance the Food Standards Agency provides to specific sub-groups of the population on dietary salt intake. [206113]

Dawn Primarolo: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends an average intake of 6 grams of salt a day for adults and children over the age of 11. Lower recommendations have been set, pro rata, for children under that age.

Guidance on achieving these recommendations is on the FSA’s website at:

in written resources, and has been made more widely available though the FSA’s mass media campaigns which have included specific projects targeted at providing information to particular sub groups such as parents, children, ethnic minorities and older people.

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of its joint campaign with the Food Standards Agency to reduce average daily salt intake. [206158]

Dawn Primarolo: The Food Standards Agency has in place a programme to monitor the effectiveness of its consumer campaign and reductions in average population daily salt intakes as a result of the overall salt reduction programme.


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Evaluations of the three-phase consumer campaign have shown that the number of consumers claiming to be cutting down on salt increased to as much as one-third. Since the start of the campaign there has also been a 10-fold increase in awareness of the 6 grams (g) a day message and the number of consumers trying to cut down on salt by checking the label has doubled.

The results of a urinary analysis survey that took place in 2005-06 showed a small but significant fall in the average population daily salt intake of 0.5 g. Further urinary analysis survey results are expected in July 2008.

Health Centres

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance has been issued to primary care trusts on the location of GP-led health centres within their catchment area. [205216]

Mr. Bradshaw: Primary care trusts (PCTs) have been asked to follow a small number of core criteria for the general practitioner (GP)-led health centres, one of which is ensuring the new services are in an easily accessible location. It is, ultimately, for PCTs to identify the best location for these new services following consultation with patients, GPs and others to reflect local needs and preferences.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether representatives of his Department are holding regular meetings with representatives of (a) primary care trusts and (b) strategic health authorities on the implementation of his Department’s plans for a new GP-led health centre in each primary care trust area. [205244]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department is supporting primary care trusts and strategic health authorities (SHAs) with a series of regional workshops which focus on the different stages of procurement. There are a number of programme based meetings within SHAs’ remit which Departmental officials are able to attend.

Health Services: Cannabis

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to put in place for a large-scale public health campaign on cannabis use. [202734]

Dawn Primarolo: The Department continues, through campaigns such as Frank, to make the public aware of the health harms associated with cannabis use.

In July 2007, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) were asked by the Home Secretary to reassess the medical and social scientific basis of the classification of cannabis in the light of real public concern about the potential mental health effects of cannabis use.

The ACMD report, “Cannabis: Classification and Public Health” (2008), was published in May 2008 and made a number of recommendations, including recommendations on public awareness, and we will update and refresh our messages on cannabis in light of these recommendations.


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Currently public health messaging is dealt with separately by the four devolved Administrations. However, through the four United Kingdom chief medical officers, we will explore how we can harmonise the cannabis public health message and share best practice and lessons learned around the UK.

Additionally, we will shortly be publishing an expert report on the health risks associated with the use of both cannabis and tobacco, which will also feed into the updating of our messages on the harms caused by cannabis.

Hospital Beds

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many inpatient beds there are in each NHS hospital in England; and how many outpatients were seen in each hospital in each of the last three years. [203518]

Mr. Bradshaw: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Hospitals: Greater London

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were treated by (a) Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Greenwich, (b) Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, (c) Princess Louise Hospital, Bromley and (d) University College Hospital, Lewisham in (i) 1997 and (ii) the last year for which figures are available. [205339]

Mr. Bradshaw: Information is not available in the format requested. Data are not collected at individual hospital level but by national health service trust. The trusts that manage the specified hospitals are, respectively, Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust, Queen Mary's Sidcup NHS Trust, Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust and The Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust. We have assumed that my hon. Friend means the Princess Royal University Hospital, which is part of Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust, rather than Princess Louise Hospital, which is in Kensington, and the University Hospital, Lewisham, rather than the University College Hospital.

In addition, we are unable to identify the number of patients treated. The following table therefore provides data for finished admission episodes (FAEs) for these trusts. A FAE is a period of in-patient care under one consultant within one health care provider. Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients as a person may have more than one admission within the year. The latest available data are for 2006-07.


19 May 2008 : Column 121W
Total admissions to hospital for 2006-07 and 1997-98, for Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust , Queen Mary's Sidcup NHS Trust , Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust and The Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust
Total FAEs
Trust name 1997-98 2006-07

Queen Elizabeth hospital NHS trust

36,279

60,382

Queen Mary's Sidcup NHS trust

39,417

39,211

Bromley hospitals NHS trust

49,395

(1)60,700

The Lewisham hospital NHS trust

34,824

54,613

(1 )For 2006-07, the figure for Bromley hospitals NHS Trust includes data for the Orpington Treatment Centre. Notes: 1. A FAE is the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one health care provider. Admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. 2. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by over 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts in England. The Information Centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data via HES processes. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain. 3. HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. During the years that these records have been collected by the NHS, there have been ongoing improvements in quality and coverage. These improvements in information submitted by the NHS have been particularly marked in the earlier years and need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. Changes in NHS practice also need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. For example a number of procedures may now be undertaken in out-patient settings and may no longer be accounted in the HES data. This may account for any reductions in activity over time. 4. Figures have not been adjusted for shortfalls in data (i.e. the data are ungrossed). Source: Hospital Episode Statistics, the Information Centre for health and social care.

Intensive Care

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) intensive care and (b) high dependency unit beds were available for (i) children and (ii) adults within primary care trusts in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [204590]

Mr. Bradshaw: The data is not available in the format requested as the data is collected from NHS providers and not on a commissioner basis. The data from the bi-annual adult critical care provision census (KH03A), which began in March 1999, does not collect data broken down by adult or children. The data from each census has been placed in the Library.

Intensive Care: Greater London

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of occasions in each London primary care trust when a patient could not be accommodated in a (a) intensive care and (b) high dependency unit because of the lack of an available bed in each year since 1997. [204609]

Mr. Bradshaw: Information about the number of occasions when patients could not be accommodated in intensive care or high dependency units because of a lack of available beds is not collected centrally. It is for local national health service organisations to assess the number of critical care beds needed to meet the demands of their population. The hon. Member may therefore wish to raise this issue locally.

The latest available information shows that in January 2008, there were 3,473 critical care beds in England. This is 114 (3.2 per cent.) more than in January 2007 and 1,111 (47 per cent.) more than in January 2000, when there were 2,362 beds.


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