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Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Government's policies (a) to prevent E.coli outbreaks and (b) to ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment of E.coli sufferers. [150312]

Ms Stuart: The E.coli bacterium of most concern is Vero cytotoxin-producing E.coli (VTEC) of which E.coli O157 is the commonest.

Many outbreaks of E.coli O157 are foodborne and have been associated with various foods including contaminated meat and dairy products. We have a wide range of policies aimed at preventing outbreaks of foodborne disease. All of these contribute to preventing outbreaks of E.coli O157 food poisoning. As well as comprehensive food hygiene legislation, examples of these policies include the clean livestock policy and butchers' licensing.

E.coli O157 outbreaks also occur from contact with farm animals or environments, including water, contaminated by animal faeces. The Chief Medical Officer issued health advice for farm visits by children last year, which was sent to all directors of public health and consultants in communicable disease control. Also in 2000, the Health and Safety Executive in collaboration with the Department of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food revised guidance to farmers, farm workers and teachers on avoiding ill health at open farms. Further information produced by Government is also given to vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women, on how to avoid infection from various zoonotic diseases, including E.coli O157. The Food Standards Agency has recently issued guidance on avoiding the risks from camping and picnicking on fields used for grazing animals.

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A Government task force on E.coli O157 has recently been set up to deal with specific areas of interest and concern. Their first meeting in September 2000 on human health aspects discussed and proposed practical steps on diagnosis, surveillance, treatment and care, outbreak management, person-to-person spread and risk assessment. The group are expected to report a programme of practical steps later in the year that can be taken forward to further reduce the risk of infection from E.coli O157.

The Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) has published guidelines dealing with sampling and identification procedures and requires its laboratories to test all stool samples for E.coli O157. All laboratories voluntarily notify all infections as part of an agreed reporting protocol.

In May 2000 the CMO's Update 26, which is distributed to all medical practitioners, carried an article "VTEC Guidance" which drew attention to the seasonal increase in infection, the risks from farm visits and the susceptibility of children to developing Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) following infection with E.coli O157.

E.coli O157 therapy is limited to supportive measures to maintain the body's fluid and electrolyte balance and monitoring for the development of HUS. Prescribing certain classes of antibiotics for E.coli infection may increase the risk of severe kidney disease and CMO Update 27 alerted medical practitioners to this in August 2000.


Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the percentage take-up of prescription pre-payment certificates by patients who would benefit financially from so doing; [153067]

Ms Stuart: The information is not available in the format requested

Information available about the number of pre-payment certificates (PPCs) purchased in England is in the table. The figures are estimates, rounded to the nearest 10,000, as some health authorities failed to return data in one or more of the years.


4 month500490550
12 month300290330

Health Benefits (Low-income Scheme)

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the estimated percentage level of take-up of the health benefits low-income scheme in the last three years for which figures are available. [153059]

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Ms Stuart: The information requested is in the table.


Claims received933865872
Certificates issued for full help (HC2)570519528
Certificates issued for limited help (HC3)324303293


The prescription pricing authority processes low-income scheme claims for Great Britain. The number for England has been estimated from a sample.

Abuse in Care

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the cost to Government in each of the past three financial years of providing (a) services, (b) compensation and (c) criminal injuries compensation to victims of abuse in care. [153393]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 12 March 2001]: Services provided to the victims of abuse may include counselling, sexual health screening, medical treatment and/or mental health treatment. We are not able to disaggregate the costs of providing these services to show whether or not the service-user in any case has been a victim of abuse in care.

Information is not held centrally about compensation payments paid by central or local government in the last three years to individuals abused while in care.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority does not record its awards under a separate category of children abused while in care.


Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent by the NHS on (a) incontinence pads and (b) incontinence pants in each of the last three years. [153548]

Mr. Hutton: Incontinence pads and pants are supplied either through National Health Service bodies, or supplied directly to patients' homes. Where products are supplied through NHS bodies, the figures in the table are broken down into spend on pads and on pants.

In respect of delivery to patients' homes, the breakdown between pads and pants is not held centrally.

£ million
April 1997 to March 1998April 1998 to March 1999April 1999 to March 2000
Home delivery(35)22.123.325.3

(35) Pads and pants

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent by the NHS on incontinence appliances, with particular reference to bedding mats and creams, in each of the last three years. [153550]

Mr. Hutton: The figures in the table show the National Health Service spend on incontinence appliances for the last three years. These appliances include urine drainage

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bags, bed pads, creams, incontinence sheaths and catheter valves. The figures exclude those appliances bought on prescription.

£ million
NHS spend on continence appliances
April 1997 to March 19987.2
April 1998 to March 199910.2
April 1999 to March 200010.6

NHS Dentists

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding will be allocated to the recruitment and retention of dentists under the NHS Plan in each of the next three years; and how many dentists were employed in the NHS from outside the UK in each of the last three years. [153738]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 14 March 2001]: Our strategy for modernising NHS dentistry was published in September 2000 "Modernising NHS Dentistry--Implementing the NHS Plan". In that publication we announced that £100 million would be invested in NHS dentistry by April 2002.

This year we have made available £4 million through the Dental Care Development Fund to reimburse dentists who expand their practices and treat more NHS patients. We are considering the need for a similar scheme in 2001-02 when we will also make available up to £35 million to modernise NHS dental practices and make commitment to the NHS even more worthwhile for dentists.

A new Commitment Payment Scheme was introduced from April 2000 to reward dentists in the General Dental Service for their past and present commitment. We plan to spend a sum in the order of £18 million for payments made to eligible dentists in England in respect of 2001-02. From April 2001 the scheme will be revised and enhanced; we expect the funding to be around £22 million in respect of payment due in 2001-02.

We are discussing with the profession additional financial support for dentists to undertake clinical governance, which will include clinical audit and peer review, and to support continuing professional development.

Information about the number of dentists working in the National Health Service who have come from outside the United Kingdom is available only for dentists in the General Dental Services in England and is given in the table.

General dental service: Number of dentists by country of qualification at 30 September each year England

Country of qualification199819992000
United Kingdom14,76514,95915,061
Total overseas2,1992,4572,656
South Africa638774864
Irish Republic577542513
New Zealand125131133
Other countries577188
Total 16,96417,41617,717


1. Dentists are principals on a health authority list, assistants and vocational dental practitioners.

2. Data exclude dentists whose title of registration is shown as Statutory Exams and those dentists awaiting entry.

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