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Multiple Sclerosis

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list for each health authority in England the budgeted allocations for disease modifying therapies for relapsing/remitting MS. [144860]

Mr. Denham: Health authorities are expected to meet the costs of drug treatments from their unified budgets. We do not hold centrally information on the amount each health authority may have allocated for specific treatments.

Contaminated Meat

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the impact of the recent judgment in the case of the contaminated turkey and chicken meat in Hull; and if he will review the adequacy of penalties under food safety laws. [144861]

Ms Stuart: Putting condemned meat in the human food chain is a very serious matter and one that could affect human health.

The charge in this case was one of unusually serious criminal activity involving food safety, based on an intention to defraud others for financial gain. The fresh meat sector is one of the most strictly regulated sectors of the food industry. Penalties under the Food Safety Act 1990 reflect the nature of the regulatory offences generally prosecuted under it. In this case, the appropriate charge was a common law conspiracy to defraud, where the penalties available are greater than those under specific food legislation. If the law needs strengthening to ensure better protection of human health, we will not hesitate to do this.

Chief Medical Officer's Annual Report

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason the Chief Medical Officer's Annual report was not published in autumn 2000. [145008]

Yvette Cooper: The last Chief Medical Officer's report was published in August 1998 by Sir Kenneth Calman shortly before he left office. The present Chief Medical Officer came into post in late September 1998. He has taken stock of the publications issued by the CMO and introduced a number of changes. He is currently exploring the opportunities for greater use of web-based publishing methods.

After listening to a wide range of views he also intends to introduce changes to the format of his annual report. Although the previous format served its purpose well in the past, it is very detailed and it is not always clear in what areas action is being called for. The practice of the CMO's annual report containing descriptions of a wide range of Government policies which are contained in other documents added to the detailed nature of the reports.

It is the intention of the CMO to produce a new format of the report. Although it was intended that the new report would be ready for the end of 2000, due to other pressing commitments it is hoped that it will now be published in the first quarter of this year. It will be shorter, with a clear

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focus on areas for action and in a more accessible form. The CMO has produced a number of major reports in the last eighteen months including: "An organisation with a memory: report of an expert group on learning from adverse events in the NHS"; "Supporting Doctors, Protecting Patients"; and "Stem Cell Research: Medical Progress with Responsibility".

NHS Consultants

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS consultant posts are unfilled; and if he will list the 10 consultancy categories with the most unfilled posts. [145305]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is given in the table.

Department of Health Vacancies Survey, March 2000.
Vacancies in National Health Service trusts in England

NHS consultants 3 month vacancies3 month vacancy rates (%)
Total consultants5902.7
Anaesthetics consultant300.9
Obstetrics and Gynaecology consultant101.0
Surgical group consultant601.5
Dental group consultant201.8
General Medicine group consultant902.0
Paediatrics consultant402.8
Pathology group consultant502.8
Radiotherapy consultant103.3
Radiology group consultant704.7
Accident and Emergency consultant305.8
Psychiatry Group consultant1906.9


1. Posts that have been vacant for 3 months or more

2. Posts are rounded to the nearest 10

3. Percentages are rounded to on decimal place


Department of Health Vacancies Survey 2000

Retinitis Pigmentosa

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research into retinitis pigmentosa (a) is being and (b) has been recently funded by the Government. [144932]

Mr. Denham: The Medical Research Council (MRC) which receives its funding via the Department of Trade and Industry is currently funding two research projects into retinitis pigmentosa, at a cost of £494,000. In 1999-2000 MRC spent an estimated £4.10 million on projects relating to vision. The MRC also funds broader research programmes into genetics, an estimated £57 million in 1999-2000, which is of relevance to retinitis pigmentosa and many other diseases.

Mobile Phones

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will publish a response to the Stewart report on mobile telecommunications. [145366]

Yvette Cooper: The Stewart report was published on 11 May 2000. On the same day we published our initial response on the Department of Health website welcoming the report and setting out its plans for implementing the recommendations. In December 2000 we published a public information leaflet on mobile phones and base

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stations and announced the start of a new mobile phones and health research programme. Other initiatives that are already in place include information to local education authorities and schools and a programme of measurement and audit of mobile phone base stations.

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the membership is of the mobile phone review group; what interests they have declared; and how many meetings of the group have been held since it was set up. [145864]

Yvette Cooper: The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP) (the Stewart group) was set up to investigate the public health implications of mobile phone technologies. The members were as follows:

Brief resumes for the members of the IEGMP were published in the report and are on They held a total of 15 meetings. Five of these meetings were open and their minutes are on the website. All members declared their interests at the outset. These records along with submitted written evidence to the group will shortly be lodged at the Public Record Office where they will be available for inspection. Their report was published on 11 May 2000. Copies are available in the Library. The report included a recommendation for a substantial research programme to be set up. This programme, jointly funded by Government and industry, was announced in December 2000 and will be launched at a meeting in central London on 9 February. The research will be undertaken under the direction of an independent programme management committee chaired by Sir William Stewart. Further details will be made available shortly.

Ambulance Paramedics

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the result of his Department's review of the list of medicines that ambulance paramedics are allowed to administer on their own initiative; if he will indicate the time scale for implementing proposals arising from the review; and if he will make a statement. [145356]

Ms Stuart: On 16 November 2000, I announced changes in the law which allowed ambulance paramedics to administer parenterally a wider range of medicines to provide emergency treatment for patients suffering heart attacks and other life-threatening conditions.

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Ambulance paramedics are already authorised to administer a range of medicines for the immediate, necessary treatment of sick or injured persons. The new additions, such as the thrombolytic agent, Streptokinase, will enhance patient care especially where fast access to treatment can be the difference between life and death.

Waiting Lists (Brent)

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients are on NHS waiting lists in the Brent Health Authority area; how many were on such lists in May 1997; and if he will make a statement. [145881]

Mr. Denham: The following figures relate to the total inpatient waiting list. Data for May 1997 are not available as data were collected only quarterly at that point. Therefore data are provided for the two nearest quarter months for Brent and Harrow Health Authority:

March 199711,481
June 199711,428
November 20008,421


QFO1 Quarterly return/monthly waiting times returns.

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