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Baroness Thornton: There are two arms to the prion filtered red cells in surgery and multi-transfused patients (PRISM) trial-one control arm (patients receiving standard red cells) and one filter arm (patients receiving prion filtered red cells). Patients in both arms of the trial are followed up for six months in case of late complications, especially formation of antibodies to red cells which might affect future transfusions. This means that although it is anticipated that recruitment to the filter arm will be complete in 2010, follow up will continue to mid-2011. It may be clear at that point that the filters do not cause unexpected complications. As a comparison, a similar number of patients in the control arm are also being followed up. This will complete in 2011, with follow up until 2012.
Baroness Thornton: Since the prion filtered red cells in surgery and multi-transfused patients (PRISM) study is still ongoing, there are no publications related to it as yet. The Irish Blood Service has presented an abstract on its clinical experience with prion filtered red cells at the American Society for Haematology in December 2009.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many persons have been transfused with prion filtered red cells as part of the PRISM trial; and how many units of prion filtered red cells have been transfused in the United Kingdom as part of the PRISM trial. [HL1591]
Baroness Thornton: As of the end of December 2009, 107 patients in England and Scotland have received 320 units of prion filtered red cells as part of the prion filtered red cells in surgery and multi-transfused patients (PRISM) study.
Baroness Thornton: Other than the ongoing prion filtered red cells in surgery and multi-transfused patients (PRISM) study, we are aware of two other studies that have assessed the safety of red cells filtered using the P-Capt filter:a small study conducted by the manufacturer in healthy volunteers where the subjects received one unit of prion filtered red cells; anda study of 20 patients conducted in Ireland where patients were specifically followed up for evidence of adverse events. The Irish Blood Service has now transfused around a further 180 units of red cells filtered using the P-Capt filter, but these patients have not been specifically followed up.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in addition to doctors and dentists, other health professionals are entitled to legal representation in disciplinary hearings involving serious allegations as a consequence of the judgment in Kulkarni v Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. [HL1654]
Baroness Thornton: The Kulkarni case related to the application by Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust of Maintaining High Professional Standards (MHPS). MHPS is a disciplinary framework, which applies only to National Health Service employed doctors and dentists in England. The Court of Appeal found that MHPS gave a contractual right to legal representation at a disciplinary hearing. The decision therefore applies to all NHS employed doctors and dentists.
Baroness Thornton: In order to place a medical device on the European Union market a manufacturer must meet the relevant safety, quality and performance requirements laid down in the European Community medical devices directives. These have been transposed into United Kingdom law by the Medical Devices Regulations 2002. All but the very lowest risk classified devices require their conformity to be assessed by third party certification organisations (called notified bodies) designated by member states as being competent to undertake this function.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will issue guidance to health authorities stating that patients with eye treatment appointments should be issued appointment letters in large print. [HL1693]
Baroness Thornton: The Hospital Eye Service guidance issued to National Health Service trusts in November 2006 included the recommendation that all literature (including appointment cards and letters) should conform to the guidelines issued by the Royal National Institute of Blind People. This includes the recommendation that font size should be 14 point as a minimum.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 20 January (WA 264), how NHS staff find out whether someone seeking scheduled medical treatment in the United Kingdom is an Irish citizen; what criteria or documents they use to confirm that someone is an Irish citizen; and which parts of the National Health Service have the facility to record E112 forms submitted by Irish citizens electronically. [HL1532]
Baroness Thornton: It is for each member state to establish entitlement before issuing an E112. It would therefore be for the Irish authorities to establish eligibility in such circumstances. E112 forms are recorded via the overseas visitor treatment portal, which is a secure web based system available to all authorised National Health Service staff in acute and mental health trusts.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which body inspects private colleges listed as student visa sponsors on the UK Border Agency tier 4 register; what percentage of colleges inspected have been suspended; for what reasons; and when they expect every accredited college to have been inspected. [HL1652]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Education providers subject to public reviews (state schools, universities etc) do not require accreditation to enable them to apply for a sponsor licence.
As of 1 February 2010, tier 4 sponsor licences for 7 per cent of education providers had been suspended pending further investigation. We are unable to disclose the reasons for suspension as investigations are ongoing.
The UK Border Agency has visited every educational establishment holding a tier 4 licence. These visits are part of a continuous rolling programme and a large proportion will be visited again within then next 12 months.
Lord West of Spithead: Between 1 April and 31 December 2009, 1,530* students were studying at a college whose licence was subsequently revoked, and 27,715* were studying at a college whose licence was subsequently suspended.
Colleges whose tier 4 sponsor is suspended are not able to issue a visa letter or confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) to new students. UKBA will also suspend consideration of any in-country applications for students to move to that college. Student, who are not involved in the reason why the sponsors licence was revoked have their stay in the UK limited to 60 days to enable them to apply for permission to stay with another approved education provider, if they wish to remain in the UK. They also have the option voluntarily to depart the UK during this time.
To ask the Chairman of Committees whether unused food and beverages which reach their consume-by date before being used for meals in the House of Lords are offered to charities for distribution to those in need. [HL1747]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): No. Stock is carefully controlled so as to minimise waste. Packaged goods which reach their use-by date are thrown away rather than distributed to charities as under food labelling regulations they are considered a risk to health and the House of Lords would remain liable for any food poisoning which might result after consumption. Fruit and vegetables which are reaching the end of their shelf life are, wherever possible, used as an ingredient in the preparation of other dishes for immediate consumption.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The timing of the Easter Recess will depend on the progress of business. An announcement will he made in due course. The Government hope to be able to give both Houses as much notice as possible of the dates of the Recess.
The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Ministry of Defence regularly exchanges information on work and research with its allies to the mutual benefit of all parties. Discussing such topics is part of continuing successful coalition operations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Christian and Mandaean refugees from Iraq (a) have requested, and (b) are awaiting a decision on, indefinite leave to remain; and whether they plan to permit those applicants to work or study at university while awaiting a decision. [HL1519]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The applications of Christian and Mandaean asylum seekers from Iraq are not reported on by the UK Border Agency and information on them could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost through the examination of individual case files.
Recognised refugees have access to the labour market but it is not our policy to allow asylum seekers to work. The only exception is asylum seekers who have been waiting 12 months for a decision where this delay cannot be attributed to them. Allowing asylum seekers to work in these circumstances is in accordance with the EC directive on the reception of asylum seekers. Asylum seekers can attend university or college courses but they generally have to pay overseas fees while their asylum claim is outstanding.
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what date and at what time the Memorandum of Understanding between them and the Government of the Republic of Ireland on Irish Language Broadcasting was signed; by which Ministers; and at what time on what date the corresponding press release was issued. [HL1803]
Lord Davies of Oldham: A Memorandum of Understanding on Digital Television, which provides a framework for continuing co-operation on broadcasting issues on the island of Ireland, was signed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD, on Monday 1 February, at approximately 3.30 pm. A press release was issued subsequent to the signing, at 3.40 pm.
The MoU is intended to ensure a smooth transition to digital terrestrial television; ensure the widespread availability of TG4 (the Irish language channel) in Northern Ireland; and facilitate the widespread availability of BBC services in Ireland and of RTE services in Northern Ireland.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are required by the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the Republic of Ireland on Irish language broadcasting to postpone the switch-off of public service broadcasting analogue services in Northern Ireland until an equivalent digital terrestrial television service exists in the Republic; if so, whether that will have any effect on the switch-off date in the rest of the United Kingdom; and whether they have estimated the additional cost of each possible year of postponement. [HL1898]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The MoU does not require the UK Government to postpone the digital switchover programme in the UK to bring it into line with the plans of the Government of Ireland. Rather it provides that the two Governments should co-operate to ensure a smooth transition to digital switchover. In addition, it provides that the two Governments will co-operate to ensure the widespread availability of TG4 (the Irish language channel) in Northern Ireland and facilitate the widespread availability of BBC services in Ireland and of RTE services in Northern Ireland.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): No forecasts have been made regarding asylum applications made by overseas nationals involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): A visa waiver will operate for a limited number of the accredited Games family who would, under normal circumstances, require a visa before travelling.
This group is expected to be the athletes themselves, coaches and support personnel, International and National Olympic and Paralympic Committee members, accredited media and a small number of representatives from high-level global sponsors. Excluding nationals from the EEA, current estimates are that there will be about 40,000 accredited foreign nationals entering the United Kingdom.
Of these just over half are expected to be nationals of countries who would normally require a visa to enter the United Kingdom or other persons coming for reasons that would normally require some form of entry clearance. In these circumstances the Olympic or Paralympic accreditation card will act as evidence that an entry clearance is not required.
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