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National Health Service: Litigation

Lord Chan: asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health does not hold figures for all aspects of litigation made against the National Health Service. However, according to the National Audit summarised accounts for health authoritites, NHS trusts and NHS Litigation Authority, expenditure for clinical negligence for 1999–2000 was £373 million. Additionally, in respect of non-clinical litigation, figures are available for "liability to third party (LTPS)" and "property expenditure (PES)" claims. For 1999–2000 these were £33,445 and £325,478 for LTPS and PES respectively.

Any legal firm or sole practitioner is able to take instruction for legal action against the NHS, and the department does not hold data on the numbers of those that are involved in such actions on behalf of claimants.

Compensation is not paid out by the NHS unless there is a legal liability to do so. Therefore nil has been paid out in respect of no-fault claims. NHS bodies can and do make ex gratia payments on a case-by-case basis but the department does not collect centrally figures relating to these.

Genetics: Progress on Publication of Green Paper

Lord Jenkin of Roding asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Secretary of State for Health in his speech at the conference "Genetics and Health—A Decade of Opportunity" reaffirmed his commitment to the Green Paper on genetics being published later this year. No formal publication date has been announced but good progress is being made with five meetings of the advisory panel and a successful conference to inform the Green Paper having taken place.

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National Health Service: Standards for Information Systems

Lord Jenkin of Roding asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out the timetable for their declared ambition to develop standards for National Health Service informations systems.[HL2677]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The information strategy for the National Health Service Information for Health (1998) and its subsequent update Building the Information Core: Implementing the NHS Plan (2001) included the timetable for a range of supporting standards. The latter document described the process for agreeing standards through the Information Standards Board and its three sub-boards.

Testing: Genetic Proposed National Network

Lord Jenkin of Roding asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 15 January (HL Deb, col. 1062) whether they will give details of the proposed national network of genetic testing; and how it is envisaged that it will provide useful information for the counselling and treatment of patients pending the establishment of standardised, comprehensive and coherent National Health Service genetic databases.[HL2678]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The aim of the national genetic testing network for rare disorders and complex tests is to facilitate high quality and equitable services for patients and their families in the United Kingdom who require genetic advice and diagnosis. There will be access to a range of expert advice and appropriate tests via local genetics centres which would provide the clinical interface and act as a gateway to the national network. This co-ordinated network of laboratories would be grounded in the current regional genetics services and will be fully functional by the end of this year.

Anticoagulation Treatment: Disposable Testing Strips

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to make disposable testing strips for blood self-monitoring machines available on prescription for those with congenital heart disease who require anticoagulation treatment.[HL2688]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are currently considering whether to list such strips in Part IX of the Drug Tariff, so enabling them to be prescribed by general practitioners on the National Health Service in England.

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National Curriculum: European Integration

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What aspects of European integration are taught as part of the national curriculum.[HL2726]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Pupils in England are taught about Europe and the European Union at secondary school. Since the start of the school year 2000 they are taught about the history of Britain in its European and wider context within national curriculum history. From 2002 through national curriculum citizenship, pupils will be taught about the world as a global community, the role of the European Union and the UK's relations in Europe, including the European Union, the Commonwealth and the United Nations. The citizenship framework allows teachers and pupils to explore and debate issues that affect the UK's relations with Europe.

State Pension

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What number and proportion of (a) single male pensioners and (b) single female pensioners receive (i) a full state pension and (ii) a partial state pension, broken down into the following bands of the full state pension: 0–25 per cent, 25–50 per cent, 50–75 per cent and 75–99.9 per cent.[HL2692]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): I refer the noble Baroness to the reply I gave her on 28 January at WA 14.

European Union Signatures Directive

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they anticipate that they will be in a position to implement fully the European Union Signatures Directive, the deadline for which was July 2001.[HL2741]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): I refer the noble Earl to the Answer given in another place on 25 January 2002, (Official Report, Commons; col. 1181W). That Answer referred to the publication of a discussion document a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of the House. We expect to lay draft regulations within the next two weeks.

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EC Regulation 2037/2000: Implementation

Baroness Ludford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they are making in implementing European Regulation 2037/2000 on substances that depleted the ozone layer; and what work was carried out prior to December 2001 to prepare for the implementation of this regulation, especially with regard to fridges.[HL2609]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The EC Regulation 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer covers a wide range of measures including controls on production, supply, imports, exports and uses of these substances. The regulation is directly applicable in UK law and therefore obligations fall directly on the industry sectors concerned. My department, together with the Department of Trade and Industry, has widely publicised the control measures and obligations that have been introduced through publications and regular contacts with the industries involved. We will shortly be introducing secondary legislation covering offences and penalties.

With regard to fridges in particular, there are a number options for dealing with waste fridges including reuse, export to other member states for treatment, disposal in the UK via high temperature incineration and storage pending treatment in the UK. Investors are in the process of providing a network of new recycling facilities in the United Kingdom. I understand that the first new facilities are likely to be operational in the spring.

Prior to December 2001, my department held a number of stakeholder meetings to facilitate the provision of disposal routes for waste fridges and freezers. Work to produce guidance on standards for the extraction of ODS from fridges was undertaken to enable the necessary investment decisions to be made. Guidance on the storage of fridges was developed and issued and an information leaflet advising householders how to dispose safely of fridges was distributed.

In order to enable the regulation to be correctly implemented, between February 1999 and mid 2001 UK officials repeatedly asked the Commission for formal clarification of the position of ODS in the insulating foam of refrigeration equipment. The occasions on which this was raised by the UK and other member states, either directly or implicitly during discussion of items for clarification, are as follows:

    EC Regulation 3093/94 Management Committee meeting, 23 February 1999;

    EC Regulation 3093/94 Management Committee meeting, 11 October 1999;

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    EC Regulation 3093/94 Management Committee meeting, 1 March 2000;

    Margins of the Montreal Protocol meeting in Geneva, July 2000;

    DETR letter to European Commission dated 11 September 2000;

    EC Regulation 2037/2000 Management Committee meeting, 4–6 October 2000;

    DETR letter to European Commission dated 30 January 2001;

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    EC Regulation 2037/2000 Management Committee meeting, 13–14 March 2001;

    EC Regulation 2037/2000 Extraordinary Management Committee meeting, 11–12 June 2001.

EC Regulation 2037/2000 entered into force on 1 October 2000. In June 2001, the European Commission formally clarified that mandatory recovery and recycling also applied to ODS in fridge insulating foam as of 1 January 2002.

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