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Food Supplements

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department is taking to ensure food supplements used by sports people do not contain banned substances. [3730]

Yvette Cooper: All food supplements, including those for sports people, must comply with food law, which is enforced by local authorities via their trading standards or environmental health departments.

Supplements which fit the legal definition of a medicine are controlled by the Medicines Control Agency (MCA). The MCA is responsible for enforcing medicines legislation, and is currently reviewing the status of a number of sports supplements.

Food Labelling

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the law covering food labelling. [3941]

Yvette Cooper: Food labelling laws are harmonised at European level and are implemented here by the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. We are committed to giving consumers more choice by promoting honest and informative labelling. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has adopted a wide-ranging action plan to tackle the issues consumers have identified as priorities for improving food labelling. The FSA is pressing for changes to European law and international standards and has established a number of working groups to explore the potential for voluntary improvements.

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Green Ministers

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the terms of reference are for the Green Minister in his Department; and if he will make a statement; [3981]

Ms Blears: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment on 13 July 2001, Official Report, columns 689–90W.

Breast Cancer Unit (Nottingham)

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the progress being made by Trent Regional Health Authority regarding the establishment of a new breast cancer unit at Nottingham City Hospital; and if he will make a statement. [4272]

Yvette Cooper: The development of the new breast care centre at Nottingham City Hospital National Health Service Trust remains a high priority. The Trent regional office of the NHS Executive continues to work closely with the trust to take forward its proposals and it is expected that the full business case will be submitted in September 2001.

Prostate/Testicular Cancer

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to promote a greater awareness among men of prostate and testicular cancer; and if he will make a statement. [4275]

Yvette Cooper: The Department recognises that men need to have information to identify health problems, and easy access to health care services and support when health problems arise. Two initiatives have recently been launched for men concerned about or suffering from prostate cancer.

The informed choice project for prostate specific antigen testing (PSA) is an education programme setting out the benefits and drawbacks of undergoing a PSA test. Men who are concerned about prostate cancer and who approach their general practitioner for a test will be given this information to help them reach a decision. Initially this is a consultation period and feedback on the usefulness of the materials, from GPs and the public, is welcomed. The leaflets are on the National Electronic Library for Health website

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The database of individual patient's experience of illness (DIPEx) is intended for use by patients, their families and carers as well as those working in the health services. DIPEx prostate cancer includes high quality information, prepared in collaboration with CancerBACUP, about the condition and its treatment, as well as answers to commonly asked questions. It is unique in recording patients in video talking about their own experiences and the choices they made.

We are looking at other innovative methods of conveying messages to men and of improving their access to services that are more tailored to their needs. The Health Development Agency is currently examining what measures are most effective for improving men's health in different areas, and preventing men from becoming ill in the first place. The findings of this work will inform the decisions that we make on how best to achieve better health for men in the future.

Milk Tokens

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the cost of extending milk tokens for pregnant mothers to pregnant mothers who are asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement. [4129]

Yvette Cooper: There are no figures available on the numbers of pregnant women who are asylum seekers and not receiving milk tokens. A major part of the cost of extending milk tokens to this group would be the administrative cost of devising and managing a system to do so, since none exists currently. We are currently reviewing separately the operation of both the asylum voucher scheme and the milk token scheme and will announce our conclusions in due course.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many of those who have enrolled on nurse induction and training courses in each of the last five years have not (a) completed their course, (b) completed their qualifications and (c) passed their qualifications at the required grade, expressed (i) numerically and (ii) as a percentage of those originally enrolled. [4343]

Mr. Hutton: Information is not collected on nurse induction courses. Information on the number and percentage of student nurses who have not completed their course is shown in the table. The human resource performance framework, published last year, sets a target of 13 per cent. attrition (leavers) for those students entering training in 2000–01.

Percentage left19.3920.0118.8914.437.0
Percentage interrupted2.914.345.214.992.5
Percentage active2.662.5130.0378.8790.3

(11) Students who have withdrawn completely from the course

(12) Students who have temporarily withdrawn but who intend to return

(13) Students who have still to complete their studies


These data are based on a snapshot in time of a particular cohort(s) and therefore each year there will still be students who have yet to complete their course

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Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what measures he plans to provide incentives to qualified nurses who are not working within the NHS and who have taken a career break; and if he will make a statement; [4340]

Mr. Hutton: To ensure there are sufficient staff to provide the treatment and care that patients need in a modern and improved national health service, funds have been made available to employ up to 20,000 more nurses, midwives and health visitors, 6,500 more therapists and other health professionals, 7,500 more consultants and 2,000 more general practitioners between now and 2004. To do this we are increasing the number of training places; improving retention of staff throughout the NHS; attracting former staff back to the NHS and international recruitment.

A national recruitment campaign was launched in February this year covering all staff groups in the NHS. Local initiatives continue to build successfully on the momentum of the national campaign and are again supported by NHS Careers.

In order to attract former staff back to the national health service, a package has been developed to encourage them to return. From 1 April 2001, healthcare professionals returning to the NHS will receive at least £1,000 income to support them while they are retraining (£1,500 for midwives). In addition we have also standardised the amount of child care assistance that can be offered to returners while they retrain. This means that a returner will now receive free refresher training; a minimum of £1,000 financial support while retraining; assistance with child care support of up to £135 per week for one child and £200 for two or more children; and assistance with travel and books.

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