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3 Jun 2008 : Column 915W—continued


Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients have (a) received appointment notifications in error and (b) kept appointments which were not recorded in a hospital patient administration system in each of the last three years. [205572]

Mr. Bradshaw: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Where appointments have been made through the choose and book system, we are aware of only one system error that has affected patients. Out of 8.5 million bookings made, the error is known to have affected 272 bookings , between 11 April 2008 and 24 April 2008 through the transposition of unique reference numbers.

The affected cases were quickly identified and action was taken to minimise any potential impact for patients. All hospitals and patients were contacted where the possibility had arisen of notification of incorrect appointments resulting from the error. In many cases it was established that no adverse effect on patients had occurred and at no time was patient confidentiality compromised.

The supplier made corrections to the system and no recurrence of the problem has been experienced since 24 April 2008. While no further recurrence is expected in future, an automated process has been put in place to identify the problem immediately if that should happen.

Pregnancy Book

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to the Answer of 25 January 2007, Official Report, columns 2045-7W, on the Pregnancy Book, what criteria must be satisfied before the Pregnancy Book is revised. [207637]

Ann Keen: The Department regularly considers updating its publications and the only criterion for updating a publication such as the Pregnancy Book is that there is sufficient need to update the material within it to make publishing an update a sensible use of resources.

Tattooing: Plastic Surgery

Ms Hewitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to ensure that companies offering tattoos and/or tattoo removal are regulated and inspected by (a) the Healthcare Commission and (b) the new Care Quality Commission. [207842]

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Mr. Bradshaw: Regulation of tattooing and skin piercing is carried out by local authorities.

The Healthcare Commission does not regulate tattooing businesses. It currently regulates tattoo removals which are carried out surgically or by using class 3B or 4 laser equipment.

The Department is currently consulting on the scope of activities to be included in the Care Quality Commission’s registration scheme for health and social care, and this consultation will run until 17 June.

Ms Hewitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints his Department has received from patients who had been treated in tattoo and tattoo removal facilities in the UK in (a) the last 12 months and (b) the last five years. [207843]

Ann Keen: The Department has received a number of representations about tattoos, tattoo removals and related issues. However, it is more likely that a person who was not satisfied with their tattoo or tattoo removal procedure would complain in the first instance to the provider of that service, and then to local agencies such as the local authority, or the Healthcare Commission in the case of tattoo removals involving surgery or laser equipment, rather than directing their complaint to the Department.

Ms Hewitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department has taken to ensure that clinics offering tattoos and/or tattoo removals meet high standards of clinical quality and consumer protection. [207844]

Mr. Bradshaw: Regulation of tattooing and skin piercing is carried out by local authorities (LAs). The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, as amended by the Local Government Act 2003, gives LAs powers to require tattooing and cosmetic piercing businesses in their area to register and observe byelaws on hygiene and cleanliness. It is an offence for such a business to trade without being registered with the LA or to breach local byelaws.

LAs in London generally use the London Local Authorities Act 1991 (private legislation) which provides for a licensing scheme for businesses providing special treatments such as tattooing and cosmetic piercing. It is an offence to trade without being licensed or to breach licence conditions.

LAs also have general enforcement powers under health and safety at work legislation. This allows LAs to use improvement and prohibition notices, and ultimately prosecute tattooing and piercing businesses, if appropriate. Taken together with Healthcare Commission regulation of surgical tattoo removals and, currently, tattoo removals involving lasers, mean that there is protection for people who choose to use these services.

Tobacco: Young People

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps he is taking to discourage adults from purchasing tobacco on behalf of children as part of the Government’s commitment to reduce smoking amongst young people; [207378]

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(2) if he will consider the merits of introducing a criminal offence of proxy purchasing of tobacco by adults on behalf of minors. [207380]

Dawn Primarolo: This issue was considered by Parliament with respect to the tobacco provisions of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. During the passage of the legislation through Parliament an amendment was tabled in the House of Lords that was subsequently
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withdrawn after the Government indicated that they were not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence that proxy purchasing of tobacco problem was a widespread problem or that any criminal offence created could be effectively enforced. However, the Government have undertaken to review the position in a year.

The Department has raised the issue in its consultation paper “Consultation on the future of tobacco control”, copies of this publication have been placed in the Library.

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