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NHS Records

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the timescale of the police investigation into the death of a patient due to a blocked oxygen pipe at Broomfield hospital, Chelmsford in July and other alleged related incidents within the NHS is affected by record keeping with regard to (a) off duty rota records, (b) the off duty book, (c) weekly staff timesheets, and (d) agency timesheets; and if he will make a statement. [15011]

Ms Blears [holding answer 15 November 2001]: The police are looking at staff duty records as part of the investigation into the death of a patient due to a blocked oxygen pipe.

The police acknowledge that this is a long and painstaking investigation which is likely to take some time.

The Department and the national health service are co-operating fully with the police in this matter.

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NHS Catering

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the NHS has spent on providing meals for patients; and how many meals were served in each of the last three years. [14936]

Ms Blears [holding answer 15 November 2001]: The national health service spent almost £366 million on the provision of meals for patients in 1999–2000, the first year when information was collected centrally. Data collection for 2000–01 is still in progress.

The NHS provides over 300 million meals each year, detailed data are not collected centrally.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the applicants for the national franchise for NHS Catering; and if he will name the successful applicant. [15052]

Ms Blears [holding answer 15 November 2001]: The NHS Plan commits us to examining a franchise option by the end of this year. Any franchise arrangements will be subject to European Union regulation and will require open competition within the Community for any interested party.

Drug Deaths

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many persons died wholly or primarily as a result of the use of (a) alcohol, (b) tobacco, (c) cannabis, (d) heroin and (e) cocaine in the last year for which figures are available. [15287]

Ms Blears [holding answer 15 November 2001]: The information requested is as follows:






Number of deaths where selected substances were mentioned on the death certificate—England and Wales 1999

All deaths with substance mentionedDeaths where substance was the only one mentioned
Heroin/morphine(11)754575
Cocaine8731
Cannabis70

(11) As heroin breaks down in the body into morphine, the latter may be detected at post mortem and recorded on the death certificate

Source:

"Death related to drug poisoning: England and Wales 1995–99" Health Statistics Quarterly 09, spring 2001, Office for National Statistics; ONS database of drug-related poisonings


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NHS Direct

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the monthly running costs are of NHS Direct. [15311]

Ms Blears: During the first six months of 2001–02, the average monthly running costs of NHS Direct sites was £6,341,000. A further £1,800,000 was spent each month on running costs to cover centrally procured services, national management and administrative posts, NHS Direct Online, NHS Direct Information Points and other developments and pilots.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to establish a system of recording the performance of NHS Direct. [15409]

Ms Blears: An NHS Direct performance management framework is being developed which encompasses the principles of continuous quality improvement and will include qualitative as well as quantitative indicators. This will be implemented following consultation with the National Audit Office.

The Department collects information on performance and finance from each NHS Direct site in England.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many members of staff are employed by NHS Direct; and if he will make a statement. [15310]

Ms Blears: As of September 2001, NHS Direct employed around 2,240 whole-time equivalent staff, 75 per cent. of whom have direct caller contact.

NHS Direct aims to provide patients and the public with the information and advice they need to look after themselves and their families. It gives people the confidence to look after themselves when it is safe to do so and directs them to the right level of service when they need professional help.

To date NHS Direct has handled over 8,000,000 calls and is currently handling around 100,000 calls per week. Regular satisfaction surveys indicate that over 95 per cent. of callers are satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive.

Mobile Phone Masts

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will publish the next set of research into safety of mobile phone masts. [15376]

Ms Blears [holding answer 16 November 2001]: In May 2000, the Stewart report on mobile phones and health concluded that there is no general risk to people living near base stations on the basis that exposures are expected to be small. A subsequent measurement programme undertaken by the Radiocommunications Agency (RA) of mobile masts on school premises has confirmed that exposures are a small fraction of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines. Eighty measurements have now been completed and the results are available on the RA web site www.radio.gov.uk.

The Stewart report also recommended that a substantial research programme should be set up to investigate the potential health effects of mobile phone technology as a whole. This programme has been set up under the direction of an independent scientific management

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committee who have recently assessed a range of research proposals. The first group of projects is expected to start in the next few weeks. Information about the research is being made available at www.mthr.org.uk.

Nursing Accommodation

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average cost is per week of (a) keeping a person in hospital and (b) keeping that person in a nursing home. [15386]

Jacqui Smith: [holding answer 19 November 2001]: Based on final national health service trust accounts for 1999–2000, the latest published figures, the average cost of treating a patient in hospital is estimated to be £233 a day or £1,630 a week. Based on data provided by local councils for 1999–2000, the latest year for which data are available, the average gross cost of keeping an older person in a nursing home in England is estimated to be £319 a week.

Free Nursing Care (West Chelmsford)

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when those people who were receiving nursing care in the West Chelmsford constituency on 1 October will have had assessments carried out for free nursing care; [14968]

Jacqui Smith: The information is not collected on a constituency basis. However, 68 self-funding nursing home residents have been identified within Chelmsford primary care group and 36 have been identified within Maldon and South Chelmsford primary care trust. Determinations of these residents' registered nursing care will be completed by 31 December 2001.

New Opportunities Fund

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which targeted initiatives are receiving support from the £300 million provided by the New Opportunities Fund in January 1999. [15252]

Mr. Caborn: I am replying on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, as my Department sponsors the New Opportunities Fund.

The £300 million Healthy Living Centre initiative is designed to tackle the underlying causes of ill health such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and lack of access to health and leisure facilities. The majority of applications have been from partnerships between voluntary and public sector organisations and grants have funded new services and, sometimes, new buildings.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what proportion of the £300 million provided by the New Opportunities Fund in 1999 to support targeted health initiatives has been (a) allocated and (b) spent; [15253]

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Mr. Caborn: I am replying on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, as my Department sponsors the New Opportunities Fund.

I have contacted the New Opportunities Fund to request the information required, and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as it is available, placing copies of my letter in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what projects are being funded from the £150 million made available from the New Opportunities Fund in September 1999. [15254]

Mr. Caborn: I am replying on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, as my Department sponsors the New Opportunities Fund.

The £150 million Living with Cancer initiative funds projects which aim to improve cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and care. The initiative is intended to complement cancer service policy frameworks in each country.


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