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Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many low cost housing units for nurses in London have been found by the Department's housing tsar. [14112]

Mr. Hutton: 802 units have been provided so far with agreements signed for a further 120 units due for occupation next year. We are well on target to deliver the additional 2000 units of affordable housing units for national health service staff in London which is the target set in the NHS Plan. We expect to exceed this target.

In addition London NHS trusts are refurbishing 2,500 units in London, and 2,300 units of accommodation will be provided in London as part of the starter home initiative which will benefit some 5,000 NHS key workers. Overall we will have helped 7,500 individual staff in the NHS by mid-2003.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nursing posts there are (a) in the UK and (b) in London; and how many unfilled vacancies there are. [14111]

Mr. Hutton: As at 31 March 2001 there were 9,000 (3.4 per cent.) qualified nursing and midwifery posts in England which had been vacant for three months or more. The equivalent figure for the London area was 2,960 (6.4 per cent.).

Information on vacancies for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is a matter for the devolved Assemblies.

Mental Health

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of the NHS budget was spent on mental health in (a) 1997–98, (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000, (d) 2000–01 and (e) the current year to date. [13855]

Jacqui Smith: Spend on mental health services as a percentage of total national health service spend was 12.3 per cent. in 1997–98, 12.1 per cent. in 1998–99 and 12.5 per cent. in 1999–2000. Information from health authorities and NHS trusts for subsequent years is not yet available.

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The figure given for 1999–2000 is not directly comparable to previous years or future years, 1999–2000 represents the first year that primary care group expenditure was included in the calculation and the formula used to apportion the expenditure was based on estimated data. In future years the data for primary care groups will be more detailed and the resultant figure for percentage spend will be more accurate.


Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the incidence of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus in hospitals was in each of the last five years. [13504]

Mr. Hutton: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley) on 25 October 2001, Official Report, columns 341–42W.

Health Spending

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the UK is spending on health as a percentage of GDP in the current financial year; and what the comparable figures are for (a) Spain, (b) France, (c) Germany and (d) Italy. [13479]

Mr. Hutton: For the year 2001–02, total health spending in the United Kingdom is estimated to be 7.3 per cent. of gross domestic product.

The best available comparable data for other countries comes from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The latest data for Spain, France, Germany and Italy are for 1998, and in calendar years rather than financial years. The spend as a percentage of gross domestic product of these countries and the United Kingdom can be seen in the table.


United Kingdom6.8


OECD Health Data 2001

NHS Trusts (Franchises)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what performance measures will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a franchise arrangement. [13509]

Mr. Hutton: If a national health service body is required to enter into a franchise arrangement under Section 13 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001, it will be expected to agree an action plan with the Department that addresses its particular areas of weakness. Successful implementation of the action plan will be the key criterion in evaluating the effectiveness of franchise arrangements.

National Blood Service

Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the National Blood Service's appropriate use of

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blood and blood components group contingency plans for prolonged periods of blood shortages will be published for consultation. [13507]

Mr. Hutton: Consultation is currently taking place with health professionals who use blood to establish what measures are practicable to introduce into the national health service.

Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the National Blood Service's appropriate use of blood and blood components group plans to minimize the risk of transfusion-transmitted vCJD. [13506]

Mr. Hutton: The National Blood Service appropriate use of blood group aims to minimise the theoretical risk of transfusion-transmitted vCJD by ensuring that blood and blood components are only ever transfused when clinically indicated. This is in addition to measures introduced by the Government to reduce the theoretical risk of transmitting vCJD through blood—leucodepletion of blood for transfusion and the importation from the United States of America of plasma for fractionation.

Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what kind of blood substitute therapies and alternatives to blood transfusions the National Blood Service's appropriate use of blood and blood components group is examining; and who it is consulting on these matters. [13505]

Mr. Hutton: The National Blood Service appropriate use of blood group is looking at simple pre-operative measures to avoid the need for transfusion, including assessment of haemoglobin levels to determine whether transfusion is necessary; correcting anaemia with appropriate vitamin and iron supplements; volume replacement with solutions other than blood components and autologous blood transfusion in all its forms.

The group is carrying out wide consultation with experts in the field both inside and outside the National Blood Service including the Jehovah's Witnesses Hospital Liaison branch.

The four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers held a "Better Blood Transfusion" conference on 29 October 2001. The main aim of the conference was to help set the priorities for blood transfusion in the national health service for the coming three to five years. One of the important issues discussed was how to avoid the unnecessary use of blood in clinical practice in the face of decreasing supplies and numbers of blood donors. We will be taking work forward on this and other issues considered at the conference and further guidance will be issued to the NHS in 2002. Information about the conference is available on


DNA Databases

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his policy is on the creation, maintenance and retention of DNA databases in combating terrorism in the United Kingdom. [13409]

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Mr. Denham: Our policy on DNA is the same for combating all crime. The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 included an amendment modifying the restriction on the use of DNA taken under the provisions of the Terrorism Act in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to allow their use additionally for the prevention and detection of any crime, the investigation of any offence or the conduct of any investigation.

The fingerprint and DNA databases are registered with the Data Protection Registrar and information stored on them is covered by data protection legislation. Additional safeguards ensure that this information can only be used for the prevention and detection of a crime, the investigation of an offence and the conduct of a prosecution.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the handcuffing of a prisoner at Strangeways during his chemotherapy treatment for cancer at North Manchester General Hospital. [13406]

Beverley Hughes: Following a risk assessment, a prisoner receiving treatment at the North Manchester General Hospital was released on temporary licence so that he could receive treatment without escort and without the application of any restraints. However, he breached the conditions of his licence by disappearing from the permitted area of the hospital, and his licence was revoked pending a full reassessment of risk to the public. During this period, lasting six days, he was handcuffed and escorted by prison staff. On completion of the risk assessment, the Governor was satisfied that the prisoner had not deliberately breached his licence conditions. He was therefore again released on licence and all security measures have been withdrawn. It is Prison Service policy that restraints should normally be removed at the request of medical staff. No such requests were made in this case.

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