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Obstetric/Gynaecological Care

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make arrangements to give women the choice not to be treated by obstetricians and gynaecologists who perform abortions. [4114]

Yvette Cooper: If a woman wishes to be treated by an obstetrician or a gynaecologist who does not perform abortions then she should ask her general practitioner or consultant beforehand who will advise her. She is entitled to refuse treatment if she wishes.

Under-age Children (Medical Care)

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what powers he has to regulate the medical profession's prescription and treatment of under-age children without parental consent. [4113]

Ms Blears: Health professionals work to the legal principle, drawn from case law, that a young person under 16 may give consent for him/herself if the health professional treating them considers them to have sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand

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fully what is proposed. This is described as competence and is judged by the health professional on a case-by- case basis.

If a young person under 16 is considered competent to consent to the proposed treatment, parental consent is not legally necessary. However the involvement of a parent or other appropriate adult should be encouraged.

Tobacco Advertising

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence underlay his Department's statement that the prohibition of tobacco advertising would reduce consumption by 2.5 per cent. [4245]

Yvette Cooper: Evidence as to the effect of tobacco advertising on tobacco consumption was reviewed by the Department's Chief Economic Adviser in the Smee Report, published in 1992. The evidence has since been reviewed from time to time. The advice is that the likely eventual net effect of an advertising ban would be to decrease tobacco consumption, and the size of the decrease could lie in a range up to about 5 per cent. It is reasonable to use the mid-point of this range to indicate the likely effects of a ban.

Other recent work supports the view that comprehensive advertising bans are likely to reduce tobacco consumption. A report from the World Bank 1 suggests that implementation of Directive 98/43/EC could have reduced cigarette consumption within the European Union by nearly 7 per cent.

NHS Prescriptions/Dental Treatment

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to provide further help for people on low incomes with the cost of (a) NHS prescriptions and (b) dental treatment. [4244]

Ms Blears: The current exemption and charge remission arrangements are intended to ensure that no one need be deterred from obtaining any necessary treatment on financial grounds. People who have to pay can seek help under the National Health Service low income scheme which provides help on an income related basis broadly following Income Support arrangements. We have no plans at present to change these arrangements.

Bursaries (Nurses)

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nursing students from non-European countries have received bursaries in (a) 1995, (b) 1996, (c) 1997, (d) 1998, (e) 1999 and (f) 2000. [4333]

Mr. Hutton: The National Health Service Student Grants Unit's best estimate is that, as of 16 July 2001, some 2,400 students from non-European countries, at different stages of diploma courses in nursing and midwifery, were in receipt of NHS bursaries. Reliable figures on a comparable basis from earlier time periods are not available.

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The Nursing and Midwifery Admissions Service (NMAS) reports that the number of students from non- European countries accepted for entry to pre-registration diploma level nurse training programmes at English universities from 1997 to 2000 was:

A small proportion of these students are likely to have been self-funded, that is, not in receipt of an NHS bursary. NMAS acceptance figures for earlier years, 1995–96 and 1996–97 are not available.

NMAS acceptance figures for academic year 2000–01 will not be available until after 31 August 2001, the end of the current academic year.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the adequacy of accident and emergency facilities in Birmingham, with particular reference to its impact on the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust; and if he will make a statement. [4133]

Yvette Cooper: We are aware of the recent pressures experienced by accident and emergency departments in Birmingham.

The recent negotiations between Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Health Authority, with the support of the Department, have addressed the situation in relation to delayed transfers of care in Birmingham. All the agencies involved will continue to work together to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to meet any future additional pressure on accident and emergency departments in Birmingham, which will minimise any possible impact on the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals National Health Service Trust.

Breast Screening

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he has set a target for breast screening coverage. [4028]

Yvette Cooper: The National Health Service breast screening programme has a target of 70 per cent. for uptake of breast screening invitations. This was the level recommended by the Forrest Report on Breast Cancer

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Screening (1986) and has been in place since the start of the programme in 1988. Copies are available in the Library.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost of extending breast screening to women over the age of 70 years; and how many more women would receive breast screening as a result. [4083]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 17 July 2001]: It is estimated that it would cost an extra £104 million a year to extend the National Health Service breast screening programme to women over the age of 70 years. It is estimated that the current programme costs £52 million a year and the current cost per woman screened is £40.

It is estimated that 2.6 million women aged 70 and over would participate in the programme taking account of 2001 population projection data and if uptake were in line with younger groups (75.6 per cent. in 1999–2000).

The Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer Screening is keeping this issue under review as new research evidence emerges.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he plans to take to increase the number of chiropodists/podiatrists. [4278]

Mr. Hutton: The number of chiropodists/podiatrists will increase as part of the NHS Plan commitment to provide more staff for the National Health Service. The NHS Plan states that by 2004 there will be 6,500 more therapists and other health professionals (including chiropodists/podiatrists) in post by 2004 and that 4,450 more therapists and key professional staff (including chiropodists/podiatrists) will be being trained.

Consultant Psychiatrists

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many vacancies there were for consultant psychiatry posts in each region in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [4139]

Mr. Hutton: Information about vacancies for consultant psychiatry posts is available only from 1999 onwards. This information is provided in the tables.

The NHS Plan provides for an additional 7,500 consultants by 2004. While those posts are filled there will inevitably be a temporary increase in the number of vacancies.

Department of Health Vacancies Survey, March 2001 Three month vacancy rates(14),(15) and numbers for total consultant psychiatry posts in NHS Trusts in England as at 31 March for each year

Psychiatry group of specialities
1999(16) 2000(16)
Rates (Percentage)Posts (Number)Rates (Percentage)Posts (Number)
Northern and Yorkshire7.3207.730
West Midlands9.02011.430
North West10.5307.930
South East6.2204.720
South West7.5202.210

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Total for 2001(16),(17) of which:
RatesPostsRates (Percentage) Posts
(Percentage)(Number)ForensicGeneralOld ageLearning disabilitiesForensicGeneralOld ageLearning disabilities
Northern and Yorkshire9.0300.
West Midlands9.6200.
North West13.54018.212.214.621.70301010
South East1.5307.710.28.511.1030100
South West1.50(18)

(14) Three month vacancies are vacancies as at 31 March for each year which trusts are actively trying to fill, which had lasted for three months or more (whole-time equivalents).

(15) Three month vacancy rates are three month vacancies expressed as a percentage of three month vacancies plus staff in post from the September medical and dental and non-medical workforce censuses (whole-time equivalent).

(16) In 1999 and 2000 breakdown of data was not available and includes consultants within child and adolescent and psychotherapy. The figures are therefore not comparable with the 2001 figures.

(17) Total for consultants in forensic psychiatry, general psychiatry, learning disabilities and old age psychiatry.

(18) Figures based on less than 10 posts.


1. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Percentages rounded to one decimal place.

3. Totals may not equal sum of component parts due to rounding.

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