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Green Ministers

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what dates his Department's Green Minister attended meetings of the Green Ministers' Committee during the current Session of Parliament; on what dates subsequent meetings are planned to take place; and if he will make a statement. [4817]

Ms Blears [holding answer 18 July 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment on 17 July 2001, Official Report, column 165W.

New Variant CJD

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have died from new variant CJD in each of the last five years broken down by (a) health authority and (b) unitary/district council where the person had been living. [5304]

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Yvette Cooper: For reasons of patient confidentiality the information cannot be provided in the format requested. I refer the hon. Member to table 3 in the ninth National CJD Surveillance Unit annual report which gives data on deaths by region and county of onset from 1 May 1995 to 31 January 2001. A copy is available in the Library.

Departmental Events

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) national and (b) international awareness events his Department has participated in since June 1997 in the form of (i) sponsorship, (ii) departmental attendance, (iii) similar departmental activities and (iv) a message of support. [5039]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Cannabis

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what clinical trials have been conducted into the use of cannabis for treatment of MS; and when the results will be published. [5343]

Ms Blears: The Medical Research Council (MRC) is funding a clinical trial into the efficacy of cannabis extract and a single cannabinoid in the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients. The trial is being run by Dr. John Zajicek, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, and the MRC Clinical Trials Unit. The trial started recruitment in autumn 2000. It will take three to four years to complete from the point of recruitment and the results will be published subsequently in peer reviewed publications.

We are aware that a second study on the development of a medicine derived from cannabis has started. This work is expected to last for three years and is being led by Dr. Guy of GW Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Detailed evidence about clinical trials with cannabis and its derivatives was presented to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology inquiry into the therapeutic uses of cannabis. It provides information about clinical trials with cannabis and its derivatives that are completed and published or on-going. The date of publication of the on-going trials is a matter for the investigators and sponsors. This information is recorded in the Committee's reports "Cannabis: the Scientific and Medical Evidence" (9th Report Session 1997–98, HL Paper 151) and "Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis" (2nd Report Session 2000–01, HL Paper 50), copies of which are available in the Library.

Ministerial Duties

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list for each week from Monday 23 July to Monday 8 October which departmental Ministers will be on duty (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) in London. [4893]

Ms Blears: Throughout the summer break, a Department of Health Minister will be on duty, in line with paragraph 68 of the current Ministerial Code.

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NHS Appointments Commission

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the (a) criteria which the NHS Appointments Commission must apply to making appointments and (b) membership targets which they have been set. [4186]

Ms Blears [holding answer 18 July 2001]: The criteria to be applied by the new National Health Service Appointments Commission are set out in the information pack sent by the Commission to all potential applicants. Copies of the information pack will be placed in the Library.

New, more ambitious, equal opportunities goals and objectives for all public appointments to NHS boards, special health authorities and Department of Health non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) were announced today. Full details will be placed in the Library.

Although Ministers are no longer directly responsible for making NHS appointments, we have set the Commission for Public Appointments equal opportunities goals and objectives which we will expect to see fully achieved by the end of 2004. While all appointments will be made on merit, we will expect the Commission to continue the progress already made in making NHS boards more representative of the communities they serve.

We have made huge strides over recent years in increasing the proportion of women and black and ethnic minority candidates appointed to NHS boards. 50 per cent. of all NHS board members are now women, and 12 per cent. are black or from ethnic minorities. This compares with figures of only 39 per cent. and 5 per cent. at the time of the 1997 general election. As a result, the boards of these bodies are now far more representative of the communities they serve.

Huge improvements have also been made in the representative nature of appointments to national bodies, with 37 per cent. of those appointed to Department of Health special health authorities and NDPBs now being women, and 15 per cent. being black or from ethnic minorities.

NHS Consultants

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS consultants there were in (a) England and (b) Buckingham in each year since 1980. [5642]

Mr. Hutton: Data showing the number of consultants working in the NHS in England for each year since 1987, and in Buckinghamshire for each year since 1994, are shown in the table.

Information regarding the number of consultants employed in the NHS in England prior to 1987 was not collected centrally. Prior to 1994 it is not possible to identify figures for the number of consultants working in Buckinghamshire.

Hospital, public health medicine and community health service medical and dental services

Number
As at 30 SeptemberEnglandBuckinghamshire
198714,870n/a
198815,200n/a
198915,720n/a
199016,370n/a
199116,670n/a
199217,140n/a
199317,490n/a
199418,050210
199519,420230
199620,300230
199721,370230
199822,220240
199923,220260
200024,310270

Notes:

1. "n/a" denotes not known. Prior to 1994 some data were returned directly by the Oxfordshire region. It is therefore not possible to identify individual organisation's contribution to these figures.

2. Figures rounded to the nearest 10. "0" denotes less than 5.

Source:

Department of Health medical and dental workforce census


20 Jul 2001 : Column: 729W

Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list by health authority the average number of hours per week consultants spend working in the NHS at the latest date for which figures are available. [5426]

Mr. Hutton: Information is not held centrally or across health authorities on the average number of hours per week worked by consultants in the national health service. For information on the types of contract held by consultants, I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 23 April 2001, Official Report, column 175W.

St. George's Hospital, Tooting

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated shortage of doctors and nurses at St. George's hospital, Tooting is. [5416]

Mr. Hutton: The current vacancy rates at St. George's national health service trust are shown in the table.

Department of Health vacancies survey, March 2001 medical and dental and qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff vacancies in St. George's hospital NHS trust—three month vacancy rates(70),(71) and numbers(72)

St. George's healthcare NHS trust
Number of three month medical and dental vacancies(73)
Three month medical and dental vacancy rate (percentage)0.0
Number of three month qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff vacancies160
Three month qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff vacancy rate (percentage)10.3

(70) Three month vacancies are vacancies as at 31 March 2001 which trusts are actively trying to fill, which had lasted for three months or more (whole time equivalents)

(71) Three month vacancy rates are three month vacancies expressed as a percentage of three month vacancies plus staff in post from the September 2000 medical and dental and non-medical work force censuses (whole time equivalent)

(72) Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10

(73) Zero

Notes:

1. Percentages are calculated on unrounded figures

2. Percentages rounded to one decimal place

Source:

Department of Health Vacancies Survey 2001


20 Jul 2001 : Column: 730W

In line with Government policy, St. George's has introduced a number of initiatives to combat nursing vacancies, including return to practice courses, overseas recruitment and open days for immediate appointment of nurses.


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