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Beta Interferon

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the cost to the health services in Australasia of purchasing beta interferon. [152957]

Mr. Denham: The Department has made no such assessment.

Multiple Sclerosis Nurses

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the desirability and cost of making the provision of specialist multiple sclerosis nurses mandatory in all NHS trusts. [153383]

Mr. Denham: No assessment has been made centrally on the desirability and cost of making the provision of specialist multiple sclerosis nurses mandatory in national health service trusts. This is a local matter for NHS commissioners and providers to determine as part of the provision of neurological services.

Aricept/Exelon/Reminyl Prescriptions

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many health authorities are prescribing (a) Aricept, (b) Exelon and (c) Reminyl to patients on the basis of need. [153140]

Mr. Denham: We have made no assessment of the prescribing of Aricept (donepezil), Exelon (rivastigmine) and Reminyl (galantamine).

In January this year, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence issued guidance to the National Health Service on the use of these medicines for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Health authorities and NHS trusts will be monitored to ensure they are taking full and proper account of this NICE appraisal.

NHS Computer Systems

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he and his officials have made of the effect on (a) patient services, (b) procurement costs and (c) IT system suppliers of the time taken between submission of the first draft of full business cases for NHS hospital trust computer systems to NHS regional offices and approval of the final version of full business cases by the NHS executive. [153094]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 9 March 2001]: No assessment has been made of the effect of the time taken between submission of the first drafts of full business cases (FBCs) for National Health Service hospital trust computer systems to NHS executive regional offices and approval of the final versions of those FBCs by the NHS executive. FBCs are approved as quickly as is consistent with the need to ensure that the proposed investment is affordable and represents value for money to the taxpayer.

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Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the average time taken between submission of the first draft of full business cases for NHS hospital trust computer systems to NHS regional offices and approval of the final version of full business cases by the NHS executive. [153093]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 9 March 2001]: The Department has approved eight full business cases (FBC) for hospital computer systems where the first draft of the FBC was submitted to the regional offices of the national health service executive on or after December 1998. On average, each of these FBCs was approved four months

19 Mar 2001 : Column: 96W

after the submission of the first draft of the FBC to the regional office. Details of the schemes concerned are shown in the table.

The regional offices of the NHS executive have a dual role. They are responsible for helping NHS trusts to develop their business cases for investment in computer systems. They are also responsible for approving the business case, working jointly with NHS executive headquarters as necessary. Where several months elapse between submission of the first draft of the FBC and approval of the final version, much of this time is likely to be taken up by the development of the FBC rather than the formal process of approval.

19 Mar 2001 : Column: 95W

NHS trust Type of investment Date of submission of first draft of full business case to the regional officeDate of approval by regional office (and NHS Executive Headquarters where appropriate)Time between submission of first draft of FBC and approval of final version
Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS TrustPatient Administration SystemDecember 1998/ January 1999January 19991 month
Royal Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS TrustIntegrated Patient Management SystemDecember 1998/ January 1999August 19998 months
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS TrustOrder Comms/Results Reporting and Departmental systemsJanuary 1999February 19991 month
Bolton Hospitals NHS TrustPatient Administration System and some departmental systemsOctober 1999December 19992 months
North Durham Health Care NHS TrustPicture Archiving and Communication SystemApril 2000August 20004 months
Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS TrustPatient Administration SystemApril 2000September 20005 months
Calderdale Healthcare NHS TrustPicture Archiving and Communication SystemJune 2000November 20005 months
Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS TrustElectronic Patient RecordsJuly 2000December 20005 months

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Abattoirs

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost to (a) small and (b) large abattoirs of inspection charges; and if he will make a statement on the levying of charges on (i) a per head basis and (ii) a per hour basis. [153268]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 12 March 2001]: We have accepted the recommendation of the Meat Inspection Charges Task Force (the "Maclean Group") that the current method of charging for meat inspections on an hourly basis should be changed and that all abattoirs and cutting plants should instead be charged the standard (headage/throughput) fees laid down in the European Union Charges Directive or their actual inspection costs where these are lower.

The Statutory Instrument (SI) giving effect (in England) to this recommendation--The Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) (Charges) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2001--was laid before Parliament on 9 March 2001 and, subject to parliamentary approval, will come into force on 2 April 2001. (Similar legislation is being made in Wales and Scotland).

The Regulatory Impact Assessment accompanying the SI gives examples of the impact of these changes on the level of meat inspection charges incurred by certain abattoirs. For example, a small plant (100 livestock units

19 Mar 2001 : Column: 96W

per annum) would see its annual inspection charges fall from £3,500 to £200. And a medium-sized plant (16,300 livestock units per annum) plant would see its annual charges fall from £107,200 to £49,200. A number of plants with very large annual throughputs will, however, continue to be charged their actual inspection costs (calculated on a per hour basis) since these will be lower than the charge calculated on a throughput basis.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many abattoirs there were in (a) the UK and (b) the region in which the Lewes constituency is located in every year since 1979. [153266]

Ms Stuart: The table gives the number of licensed red meat and licensed poultry meat abattoirs from 1979 to 2000, where available, in the United Kingdom and the county of East Sussex, which includes the Lewes constituency.

United Kingdom East Sussex
Red meatPoultry meatRed meatPoultry meat
19791,159------
19801,123------
19811,084------
19821,005------
19831,036(23)115----
19841,024(23)112----
19851,013(23)112----
1986973(23)106----
1987951(23)108----
1988929(23)108
1989825(24)118----
1990783(24)110----
1991726119----
1992671117----
199354212020
199452716522
199550018023
199648418223
199747217113
199845117113
199943215712
200042014412

(23) England and Wales

(24) Great Britain


19 Mar 2001 : Column: 97W

Parkinson's Disease

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received about including Parkinson's Disease on the list of conditions which have exemptions from prescription charges; and if he will make a statement. [153499]

Ms Stuart: Over the last 12 months we have received seven letters requesting that Parkinson's disease be included in the list of medical conditions conferring exemption from prescription charges. People suffering from Parkinson's disease are entitled to free prescriptions if they are aged 60 or over, or they (or their partner) are receiving Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or tax credits (with their maximum credit reduced by £70, £71 from 10 April, or less per week). They may also claim for help under the national health service low income scheme. We have no plans to change these arrangements.


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