To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to reduce the risks to public health from rodent-based arenaviruses originating in Africa. 
Rodent-based arena viruses originating in Africa can cause serious human disease that can be further spread from person to person. An example of such a disease is Lassa fever. Patients in whom such an infection is confirmed, or in whom such infection is suspected, are immediately transferred to a specialist high security infectious disease unit in which the highest biological containment measures can be applied. The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens has issued guidance on the care of patients infected with such viruses and on the highest containment measures that 6 Nov 2008 : Column 693W
must be taken when handling such dangerous pathogens, for example in a laboratory setting, to minimise the risk of infection.
Specialist diagnostic facilities are provided for the detection and laboratory confirmation of such infections by the Health Protection Agency within its high containment laboratories.
Rodent-based arena viruses are also endemic in other parts of the world, such as South America, and are also known to cause serious human disease.
For those travelling from the UK to areas where arena viruses are endemic, advice is provided by the National Travel Health Network and Centre and the Health Protection Agency and is published on their websites.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many GP referrals there have been to consultants within the NHS in each of the last 10 years. 
The numbers of general practitioner (GP) referrals to consultants within the national health service in England in each of the last 10 years are set out in the following table.
GP written referrals for first out - patient appointment (consultant led): All specialties, England provider based
Number of GP referrals made
Department of Health, QM08, KH09, QAR (Quarterly Activity Return).
General Practitioners: Pharmacy
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the potential loss of revenue to dispensing doctors of the proposals contained in the Pharmacy White Paper; and what assessment he has made of the effects on rural general practices of the removal of dispensing rights to patients living in rural areas; 
(2) what the projected cost is of each of the four proposed options for dispensing doctors outlined in the Pharmacy White Paper; 
(3) what plans he has to amend the basis on which general practitioners in rural areas can dispense medicines and other products; 
(4) what plans he has to ensure that rural communities are not adversely affected by proposed changes to dispensing arrangements for doctors; and if he will make a statement. 
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The factors for consideration are set out in the consultation paper, Pharmacy in England: Building on strengthsdelivering the futureproposals for legislative change, published on 27 August 2008.
As part of this consultation, we have put forward a range of options, including the option of leaving general practitioner dispensing arrangements unchanged, on which we are seeking views. The impact assessments, which have been published as part of the consultation, consider the likely effects of each of the options available.
We have no preferred option at this stage nor have we come to a view as to whether any reform of these particular arrangements is necessary.
The consultation paper and associated impact assessments have already been placed in the Library and are available on the Departments website at:
Mr. Stephen O'Brien:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) his Department and (b) the Medical Research Council spent on research in each of the last five years; and what proportion of that money was spent on each (i) broad area of research and (ii) disease or condition. 
The Departments national health service research and development budget for the five years from 2002-03 has been:
The main part of that budget has been devolved to and managed by NHS organisations. Those organisations have accounted for their use of the allocations received from the Department in an annual research and development report. The reports estimate total, aggregated expenditure on the national priority areas shown in the following table.
Spend of NHS support funding on priorities
Coronary heart disease
Improving the patient experience
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Chronic neurological disease
Degenerative neurological disorders
Medicines for children
n/a = Not available
Where a research project relates to two or more priority areas, the expenditure on it is included under each relevant heading.
Comparable information in respect of the Departments centrally managed research programmes is not available.
Medical Research Council (MRC) expenditure on medical research since 2002-03 and its distribution is shown in the following tables.
Genetics, Molecular Structure and Dynamics
Cell Biology, Development and Growth
Medical Physiology and Disease Processes
Immunology and Infection
Neurosciences and Mental Health
People and Population Studies: Health Services and Health of the Public