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Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average number of hours worked per week by general practitioners in England and Wales was in (a) 1971, (b) 1990 and (c) 2000. [157882]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 10 April 2001]: The only data on hours worked by general practitioners are from the general medical practitioners (GMP) workload surveys. One was carried out in 1989-90. Details in the table show hours worked on general medical service (GMS) and non-GMS duties. The information is for Great Britain and is not available for England and Wales only.

Average(25) number of hours worked per week by general medical practitioners by type of activity, 1989-90

GMS and non-GMS duties41.99
of which:
GMS duties37.01

(25) Average is calculated whether or not the GMPs were involved in the activity in their recording week.


GMP workload survey 1989-90

Profound and Multiple Disabilities

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the reduction in the number of services for profound and multiple disabilities in the last three years. [158085]

Mr. Hutton: It is the responsibility of local statutory authorities to determine the level of services required in their area. Data on services for people with profound and multiple disabilities are not held centrally, but it is widely recognised that the number of children and young people with profound and multiple disabilities who survive into adulthood is increasing. The recently published White Paper "Valuing People, a New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21 Century" specifically recognises the needs of people with profound and multiple disabilities.

It included our target for an additional 6,000 severely disabled children by 2002 to receive support by a co-ordinated care package from health and social services. Additionally integrated health and social services for children and young people with severe disabilities and complex needs will be one of the priority uses of the capital element of the learning disability development fund. Support for families of disabled children is also being given through the Government's "Quality Protects" programme and through the New Opportunity Fund providing grants for projects offering palliative care to children with life limiting illness and their families.

8 May 2001 : Column: 146W

Meat Inspection

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce hazard analysis critical control points to the meat inspection system in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [158501]

Ms Stuart: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Leicestershire (Mr. Taylor) on 3 April 2001, Official Report, columns 137-39W.

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received concerning the introduction of hazard analysis critical points to the meat inspection system in the United Kingdom. [158502]

Ms Stuart: Representations on hazard analysis and critical control points and the future control of meat inspection have been received from UNISON and hon. Members on behalf of constituents. I am advised that UNISON and the Association of Meat Inspectors have also been holding discussions on this issue with the Food Standards Agency.

Council of Europe Public Health Committee

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what objectives he is pursuing in relation to the market in food supplements through the Council of Europe and meetings of its public health committee. [159179]

Ms Stuart: We consider that in the interests of consumer choice the market for supplements sold under food law should be open to all products which are safe and appropriately labelled.


Ms Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funds have been made available for (a) drug education and prevention and (b) drug rehabilitation in Luton since 1 May 1997. [159416]

Ms Stuart: Information on funding for drug education, prevention and rehabilitation is not available centrally for Luton. National health service funding for these services is provided to Bedfordshire health authority. The Luton drug action team will receive its share of the new pooled treatment budget via Bedfordshire health authority and has been allocated £1,199,000 for 2001-02.

Drug treatment in the Luton drug action team area is mostly provided from NHS, social services, police, Probation and Prison Service funds that are embedded within mainstream services and cannot readily be disaggregated. However, certain earmarked grants and allocations to Bedfordshire health authority can.

Drug misuse special allocation
In-year addition
Health Action Zone drug prevention work in Luton

8 May 2001 : Column: 147W

Eastbourne Hospital

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the average waiting times were for a first appointment with a consultant at Eastbourne District General Hospital in (a) May 1997 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available; [159191]

Ms Stuart: The information requested can be found in "Waiting times for first out-patient appointments in England: Detailed statistics". This is published quarterly and can be found in the Library.

Prescription Charges

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when the list of medical conditions exempt from prescription charges was last reviewed; [159754]

Ms Stuart: The list of medical conditions conferring exemption from prescription charges was agreed with the medical profession in 1968. It was last reviewed as part of the comprehensive spending review in 1998. We concluded that there should be no change to the list of conditions conferring exemption for the rest of this Parliament.

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what it would cost to exempt people with Parkinson's disease from prescription charges; [159786]

Ms Stuart: Information about people with Parkinson's disease who are required to pay for their prescriptions is not held centrally. We cannot, therefore, provide a reliable estimate of the cost of exempting all people with Parkinson's disease. However, many people with Parkinson's disease will be aged 60 or more and already entitled to free prescriptions.

Treatments (Children)

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps he is taking to monitor the use of unlicensed and off-label treatments on children; and if he will make a statement; [159605]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 30 April 2001]: The vast majority of medicines on the United Kingdom market have been granted a marketing authorisation. Use of medicines in children where this is not specified in the

8 May 2001 : Column: 148W

marketing authorisation ('off-label' use) is permitted under UK law where the clinician believes it is justified. This is a matter for clinical judgment, informed by specialist guidance produced by and available to the profession. The Medicines Control Agency and Committee on Safety of Medicines continue to monitor the safety of all medicines, whether used within their product licence or used unlicensed or 'off-label'.

It is our view that children should have access to medicines that have been fully evaluated for use in childhood. As medicines regulation in the UK derives largely from European legislation, an international approach is needed. We have therefore raised the profile of the issue at European level to encourage companies to undertake appropriate trials on the use of medicines in the treatment of children. This formed the basis for an international guideline, operational in the European Union from January, and applicable in the United States of America and Japan. In addition the European Commission has been asked to develop measures for children's medicines. We await their proposals.

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