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Quality Protects Initiative

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the time currently taken by each police force to make police checks under the Quality Protects Initiative. [108214]

Mr. Charles Clarke: I have been asked to reply.

Separate information in the form requested is not available centrally.

Geriatric Care

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the weekly cost of keeping an elderly person (a) in an NHS ward and (b) in a residential home; and if he will make a statement. [109477]

Mr. Hutton: The cost per week of patients using a bed for the medical speciality of geriatrics was estimated to be £903 in 1998-99.

The weekly cost of keeping an elderly person in a residential home during 1997-98 is estimated to have been £252. Figures for 1998-99 and 1999-2000 are not available.

Prostate Cancer

Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many prostate cancer operations there were in each health authority in each of the past 10 years. [102592]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested has been placed in the Library.


Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (a) how many cases of influenza per 100,000 there have to be for an influenza outbreak to be defined as an epidemic and (b) how many cases of influenza per 100,000 there were on 11 January. [105677]

Yvette Cooper: The epidemiologists' definition of an epidemic is an increase in the frequency of occurrence of a disease in a population above its baseline level for a specified period of time. The term epidemic can be used when describing the pattern of either infectious or chronic diseases in the population.

Administrative definitions can be set for diseases in which an arbitrary threshold is selected above which the term "epidemic" is applied. In the case of influenza, the Department introduced in 1996 an administrative

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definition of an "epidemic" for a rate of consultation (with a sample of general practices) of 400 per 100,000 population in a week.

Such influenza activity in England is thus monitored through the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) sentinel surveillance scheme. This records the number of first visits to a general practitioner with influenza-illness. Other respiratory illnesses prevalent at this time of year are recorded separately.

This system does not and cannot measure the real incidence of influenza since it is restricted to those people who visit their general practitioner. This year a major campaign was run to encourage people to choose their own remedy, to consult a pharmacist and to use NHS Direct, as alternative sources of advice.

The severity of the disease itself can also vary from year to year. This year the elderly have been particularly affected by the complications of influenza. The level of cases of acute bronchitis, a serious complication of influenza, is the highest the RCGP surveillance system has seen for 15 years. In describing epidemics some other countries formally include measures of severity in the definition of an epidemic. For example, the United States declares an epidemic when the proportion of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza passes a certain threshold.

The latest confirmed figures from the RCGP show an overall rate of consultation of 236 per 100,000 for England for the week ending 16 January 2000.

Priority Health Targets (Shropshire)

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the progress made by Shropshire Health Authority on the Government's priority health targets of cancer, coronary heart disease, mental health and accidents. [105529]

Yvette Cooper: Shropshire Health Authority is making good progress in relation to these four priority areas.

The local trend in premature mortality from all cancers has been declining over the past decade. Data for September 1999 1 show that all referrals for breast cancer are being seen within the standard two weeks at both the Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals National Health Service Trust and the Princess Royal Hospital NHS Trust.

The health authority is well on course to meet its target to reduce the death rate from coronary heart disease and stroke in people under 75 by at least 40 per cent. by 2010. The health authority is hopeful that it will meet the target in 2006.

The mental health target is to reduce the death rate from suicide and undetermined injury by at least 20 per cent. by 2010. Shropshire has one of the lowest rates of suicide in the West Midlands and there is a downward trend in the figures.

Shropshire has identified a need to focus on preventing serious and fatal casualties from road traffic accidents. Particular attention is being placed on the 15-24 years age group and the health authority is planning several actions to take this forward.

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BCG Vaccinations

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on how stocks of BCG vaccine are allocated on the basis of clinical need; who makes the applications; and who determines the allocation. [105193]

Yvette Cooper: BCG vaccine is currently being made available at the request of clinicians who have determined, on the basis of clinical need and in accordance with existing recommendations, that an individual is at higher risk from tuberculosis and that immunisation with BCG vaccine is necessary. The Department is advised on BCG vaccination policy by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The recommendations are contained in the Health Departments' handbook, "Immunisation against Infectious Disease". Those at higher risk of tuberculosis include health service staff who may have contact with infectious patients or their specimens; veterinary and other staff who handle animal species known to be susceptible to tuberculosis; staff of prisons, old people's homes, refugee hostels and hostels for the homeless; contacts of cases known to be suffering from active pulmonary tuberculosis; and, immigrants from countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis and their children and infants wherever born.

Vaccine is distributed through Farillon who are the national distribution agent of all vaccines supplied as a part of the routine childhood immunisation programme. While supplies are limited, orders are accepted only for those at high risk; ultimately, the distributor has to trust the integrity of those placing orders.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the routine BCG vaccination programme for school children in the parliamentary constituency of Brentwood and Ongar will recommence. [105194]

Yvette Cooper: The schools BCG vaccination programme will recommence in England once we have assurance that uninterrupted vaccine supply can be guaranteed. The problem with the supply of BCG has been due to manufacturing problems with Medeva Pharma who provide the only licensed source of BCG vaccine. The assurances we have received so far do not allow us to give a date for restarting the programme.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many school children in the Brentwood and Ongar constituency are waiting to receive BCG vaccination. [105191]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested is not available centrally.


Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the categories of children at greatest clinical risk from tuberculosis ranked in order of risk. [105176]

Yvette Cooper: The categories of children at greatest risk from tuberculosis are as listed in Chapter 32 of the 1996 edition of the health departments handbook "Immunisation against Infectious Disease", copies of which are available in the Library.

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Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about the availability of vaccines to GP surgeries and community health clinics, with particular reference to triple vaccines and TB vaccines. [105519]

Yvette Cooper: The only childhood vaccine that is currently in short supply to general practitioner surgeries is the pre-school Diphtheria/Tetanus (DT) booster vaccine. A new manufacturer has recently had its DT vaccine licensed for use in the United Kingdom and the first batches are likely to be released and available at the end of February 2000. This should resolve the recent shortages of this vaccine.

TB vaccines are normally used in hospitals, chest clinics and at schools sessions, and are not usually ordered by GPs. Both BCG and Tuberculin PPD vaccines have been in short supply over recent months, but continue to be available for high-risk patients.

Clinical Staff (Temporary Contracts)

Mr. Pollard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to offer temporary contracts in the United Kingdom to Canadian consultants, doctors and other clinical staff. [109114]

Ms Stuart: None. Current arrangements give health authorities and National Health Service trusts flexibility to offer contracts without term (i.e. permanent), fixed term contracts (i.e. short fixed term) and fixed term rolling contracts as appropriate to the circumstances of a particular appointment.

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