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Regional Development Agencies

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many full-time staff are employed by each of the English regional development agencies. [8634]

Alan Johnson: The average number of staff employed by each of the English regional development agencies is as follows:

Number
One North East244
North West Development Agency237
Yorkshire Forward220
East Midlands Development Agency124
Advantage West Midlands164
East of England Development Agency83
South East of England Development Agency122
South West of England Development Agency167
London Development Agency77

Note:

Staff numbers are staff-in-post averages (not full-time equivalents) taken over the course of the year ending 31 March 2001, as stated in the agencies' annual reports for 2000–01, except in the case of the LDA where the figure refers to the staff complement for April to June 2001.


Fireworks

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received from the firework industry regarding illegal storage of fireworks in (a) the west midlands, (b) Lancashire and (c) Leicestershire; and what action she has taken in response to those reports. [9793]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 24 October 2001]: The Department has received no representations from the fireworks industry regarding illegal storage of fireworks in the west midlands, Lancashire and Leicestershire.

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what checks are undertaken (a) at ports of entry to ensure that bulk supplies of fireworks entering the UK are destined for licensed storage facilities and (b) to ensure that such supplies reach those facilities. [9790]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 24 October 2001]: HM Customs and Excise is responsible for undertaking intelligence-led, risk-based checks at ports of entry. Where it has concerns about fireworks reaching licensed storage facilities, it notifies the Health and Safety Executive and/or the relevant local authority.

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received from (a) the firework industry and (b) local authorities on (i) the 14-day rule allowing storage of fireworks for private use and (ii) the enforcement of fireworks safety and storage regulations. [9792]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 24 October 2001]: The Department has received no representations on the 14-day rule nor the enforcement of fireworks safety and storage regulations.

Salesmen (Vulnerable People)

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action the Government are

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taking to protect (a) dementia sufferers and (b) other vulnerable groups from door to door and telephone salespeople. [10154]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Consumer Protection (Cancellation of Contracts Concluded away from Business Premises) Regulations 1987 (as amended in 1998)—known as the Doorstep Selling Regulations—and the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 protect all consumers when goods or services are sold door to door or over the telephone.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations the Government have received from (a) organisations and (b) individuals, calling for greater protection of (i) dementia sufferers and (ii) other vulnerable groups from door-to-door and telephone salespeople. [10153]

Miss Melanie Johnson: During the past year (i) no representations have been received for greater protection of dementia sufferers in respect of door to door and telephone sellers; (ii) one representation has been received from an individual for greater protection of vulnerable groups generally from pressure selling; (iii) no other representations have been received.

HEALTH

Food Labelling

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are planned to ensure that food imported into the United Kingdom meets UK standards on food labelling. [8430]

Ms Blears: Food labelling rules are harmonised at European level and implemented here by the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. They apply to all food sold in the United Kingdom, wherever it comes from, and are supplemented by a range of guidance notes that aid consistent application and enforcement.

NHS International Scheme

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS patients have been treated in European countries under the NHS international scheme this year . [8668]

Ms Blears: Under European Commission Regulation 1408/71, it has long been possible for individual patients to be referred to all countries of the European Economic Area for specific treatment, at the expense of the sending country. A system of prior authorisation applies. Between 1 January 2001 and 16 October 2001, 920 such referrals were authorised.

Following recent rulings of the European Court of Justice, national health service bodies now have the power to commission treatment overseas, as part of their wider efforts to reduce waiting times. However, as far as we are aware no contracts have yet been signed to fund treatment for NHS patients in mainland Europe.

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what finance his Department is able to make available to NHS patients travelling to EU countries for treatment under the NHS international scheme in the current financial year. [8669]

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Ms Blears: There is no separate finance for national health service patients travelling to European Union countries for treatment. The E112 scheme allows NHS patients to travel abroad specifically to receive treatment in European Economic Area countries on the same conditions as the host country's own insured people, subject to a prior authorisation regime. There were 1,100 such authorisations in 2000. There is no set annual budget for this scheme.

Following recent rulings of the European Court of Justice, NHS bodies now have the power to commission treatment in EEA countries, as part of their wider efforts to reduce waiting times. However, NHS bodies meet any costs arising from such commissioning from their own budgets.

Strategic Health Authorities

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will delay consideration of the candidates for the chairmanship of the new strategic health authorities until after he has confirmed the boundaries of these authorities; and if he will make a statement. [8630]

Ms Blears: The recruitment and appointment of chairs to the new health authorities is a matter for the National Health Service Appointments Commission. I understand that they have already begun the recruitment and selection procedure. However, they will not be able to make substantive appointments until the consultation period has ended, the boundaries of the authorities have been agreed, and the relevant Establishment Orders have been agreed by Parliament.

Multiple Sclerosis Drugs

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on NICE's report on glatiramer acetate for multiple sclerosis. [9053]

Ms Blears: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) Appraisal Committee further considered the evidence on the use of beta interferon and glatiramer acetate for multiple sclerosis sufferers on 25 September 2001. NICE has subsequently issued a provisional appraisal determination (PAD) to interested parties for comment.

The institute has stated that, to allow sufficient time to take proper account of the extensive comments received on the PAD, it now intends to issue the final appraisal determination to consultees towards the end of October this year.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when he expects NICE to publish its final appraisal determination on the appraisal of glatiramer acetate and beta interferon for multiple sclerosis; [8709]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady) on 15 October 2001, Official Report, column 1028W.

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IT Systems

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the total (a) revenue and (b) capital expenditure on the Read codes version 3 in each of the last five years. [9410]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: The detailed information required is not yet available and will be placed in the Library as soon as it has been obtained from both the National Health Service Information authority and Leicestershire health authority.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the estimated (a) revenue and (b) capital expenditure planned to be spent on Read codes in financial years (i) 2001–02, (ii) 2002–03 and (iii) 2003–04. [9411]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: The estimated central revenue expenditure per year on Read codes is £600,000 for each of the years 2001–02, 2002–03 and 2003–04. The estimated central capital expenditure over the same period is zero.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements have been agreed for financial compensation from SNOMED if the SNOMED CT coding system is not delivered to the NHS on time. [9399]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: There are no plans to seek compensation because the third and final payment will not be made in full until SNOMED CT Release: June 2002 is delivered.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the total expenditure on coding departments in NHS trusts in the last financial year for which figures are available. [9401]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: The information requested is not available centrally.

Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 clinical coders are employed by national health service trusts.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what stage of development SNOMED clinical terms project has now reached; when he expects the project to produce a final version; and if he will make a statement. [9409]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: SNOMED CT is being developed collaboratively with the College of American Pathologists. The terms of the agreement underpinning this work are such that overall responsibility for product delivery is with the SNOMED International Authority, a committee of the College of American Pathologists.

An interim, internal product is scheduled to be delivered to the National Health Service Information Authority by 10 December 2001. SNOMED CT 'first release to support implementation testing' is scheduled to follow in January 2002. This first release is to enable a programme of evaluative work to be undertaken in the NHS and is synonymous with a beta release.

A subsequent release is scheduled for June 2002. The naming convention for releases is month-year, for example, this would be referred to as the June 2002 release. It is synonymous with a version 1. This will be the final version of the joint development project. Further releases are planned to follow every six months.

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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has made for compensation to be paid to NHS trusts and suppliers who have invested in Read based IT systems. [9414]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: No compensation is planned. National health service trusts have been forewarned that they will need to develop a strategy at local level for moving to the NHS preferred systems based on SNOMED CT. The pace of this migration will be the subject of further guidance as the results of the implementation testing programme become clear.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the target date for the SNOMED system to produce automatic mappings to ICD and OPCS codes. [9402]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: The development of SNOMED CT includes (for United Kingdom users) mapping tables from SNOMED CT to ICD10 and OPCS4 codes. It is intended that these tables will be fully populated for inclusion in the 'First Release' scheduled for January 2002.

A feasibility study is being carried out as part of SNOMED development work to investigate automated cross mapping. Full automation from terms to codes requires additional contextual information held in the clinical record. As such, automation will be dependent upon establishing the rules base and sophisticated electronic records.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice he has given existing users of Read codes about the use of legacy data following their adoption of the SNOMED clinical terms system. [9412]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: Subject to successful development and testing of SNOMED, clinical terms users and suppliers have been advised not to develop new Read code based systems from April 2003 and that users of existing systems, based on other coding schemes including Read codes, should develop a strategy at local level for moving to the national health service preferred system based on SNOMED clinical terms. SNOMED CT "First Release" will include guidance (documentation) on the use of legacy data in the context of SNOMED CT.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the total (a) revenue and (b) capital expenditure to date on (i) the SNOMED CT system, (ii) the SNOMED RT system and (iii) earlier version of the SNOMED system; and if he will make a statement. [9413]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: Involvement to date has focused on development of SNOMED CT and related expenditure is capital. The agreement commits the national health service to contributing $3 million for each of the three years beginning April 1999. The contribution is made up of the value of work supplied with any shortfall being a cash payment. Additional costs arise from funding NHS representatives on joint boards. For 2001–02 this was estimated to be approximately £160,000.

SNOMED RT was released by the College of American Pathologists in May 2000. Their total revenue and capital expenditure on this product is not known.

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The United Kingdom has no centrally collated information regarding the use of and expenditure on earlier versions of SNOMED.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Government received advice from CISCO about IT policy in the NHS; and if he will place copies in the Library. [9407]

Ms Blears [holding answer 22 October 2001]: CISCO have, like other major national and international technology suppliers, been invited from time to time to provide advice to the Government. During the summer of 2001, CISCO carried out an "E-Compliant Network" study for the national health service. The report of this study was published on the website of the NHS Information Service. A copy will be placed in the Library.


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