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Hospital PFI Projects

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the (a) progress and (b) likely future timescale of each of the hospital PFI projects which have been selected as pilots for the contracting-out of the management of ancillary staff. [25496]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 9 January 2002]: Recent progress has been good. The risk matrix, which states which parties manage the various risks in the retention of employment model, has been agreed by Unison, private sector contractors and the Department. Bidders at the three pilot sites are now finalising their best and final offers incorporating the risk matrix and these will be received shortly. This will allow an evaluation of the model, along with establishing if it is value for money, to take place during March. If successful, the first contracts should be signed in March.

NHS (Early Retirement Costs)

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total cost of early retirement to the NHS budget was in the financial year 2000–01. [26613]

Mr. Hutton: The Department does not hold details of total early retirement costs for 2000–01 for the national health service. However, under the provisions of the NHS compensation for premature retirement scheme, during 2000–01, NHS employers have paid ongoing contributions totalling £86,118,000 and capital sums totalling £106,603,000, which includes £46,419,000 for a special exercise to clear residual liabilities for scheme members over age 60. These contributions defray expenditure on benefits, in respect of early retirements in the years up to and including 2000–01.

Vein of Galen

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what facilities are available within the NHS for treating

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the condition of Vein of Galen; what specialists on the treatment of Vein of Galen are available to treat patients through the NHS; and whether the Great Ormond Street Hospital provides specialist treatment for the Vein of Galen malformation. [26049]

Jacqui Smith: Great Ormond Street jointly manages the provision of national health service funded specialist clinical services for this condition in partnership with the National Hospital for Neuroscience. As a national tertiary centre, Great Ormond Street arranges treatment and aftercare for all United Kingdom referrals for children who either have or have had this condition. As this is a relatively new, highly specialist and developing service, a clinical review body has been organised to assess the most appropriate interventions on an individual case by case basis.

Great Ormond Street has recently appointed a new consultant in this specialty, whom they intend to send to Paris for specific training in this procedure. There are currently no children waiting for surgical intervention for this condition in the UK.

Respiratory Disease

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the cost of treating respiratory disease to the NHS in each of the last five years. [27459]

Yvette Cooper: The Department does not have precise details of the cost of treating respiratory disease. However it estimated that respiratory disease accounted for approximately 6 per cent. of hospital expenditure, 13 per cent. of primary care expenditure and 12 per cent. of pharmaceutical expenditure.

Two Shires Ambulance NHS Trust

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on improved ambulance communications in the Two Shires Ambulance NHS trust area in each year since 1997. [27785]

Ms Blears: Information is not available centrally on expenditure on improved ambulance communications by the trust in each year since 1997.

Care of Vulnerable Adults

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what legislation is in place to prosecute individuals who (a) neglect and (b) abuse vulnerable adults in care settings; and if he will make a statement. [27034]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 15 January 2002]: It is an offence under section 127 of the Mental Health Act 1983 to ill-treat or wilfully neglect mentally ill patients. In addition, the Mental Health Act 1959 makes it an offence for a man to have sexual intercourse with a mentally disordered woman in his care. Those who commit offences against other vulnerable adults will be liable to prosecution for criminal offences which are of general application.

Food Standards Agency

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people are employed by the Food Standards Agency in (a) the north-west and (b) Lancashire. [27858]

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Yvette Cooper: In the north-west (defined as covering Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria) 180 staff currently work for the Food Standards Agency and the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), which is an executive agency of the FSA. Of these, 90 staff work in Lancashire.

The MHS also employs some 49 contract official veterinary surgeons in the north-west, of which 16 are in Lancashire. The actual numbers vary from week to week.

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people are employed by the Food Standards Agency in Wales. [28656]

Yvette Cooper: 21 staff currently work for the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Wales. Of these, 18 staff are on loan from the National Assembly for Wales.

The Meat Hygiene Service, which is an executive agency of the FSA, employs a further 241 staff. The Meat Hygiene Service also employs some 55 official veterinary surgeons on contract although the actual number varies from week to week.

Epidemiological Data

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether continuity of epidemiological data will be maintained for areas which were health authorities before the latest reorganisation. [28210]

Mr. Hutton: Information needs in the light of the current re-organisation are currently being considered. Continuity of data will be an issue but it will also be important to provide data at operational levels of the new organisation where responsibilities will lie and decisions be made.

From later this year primary care trusts will be taking on the majority of functions of existing health authorities and will be the focal point locally for improving the health of the community, securing high quality services and integrating health and social care locally. Data at this level will therefore be the main priority.

Health Expenditure

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the planned expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP in (a) 2001–02, (b) 2002–03 and (c) 2003–04. [28031]

Mr. Hutton: The planned gross national health service expenditure on health as a percentage of gross domestic product for the financial years 2001–02, 2002–03 and 2003–04 is shown in the table. The figure for 2002–03 includes the extra £1 billion announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his pre-Budget report on the 27 November 2001.

Gross NHS spend as a percentage of GDP

NHS spend


These figures do not include private spending

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effects of (a) surgery and (b) medicinal drugs on the life expectancy of those who have rheumatoid arthritis. [28116]

Ms Blears [holding answer 17 January 2002]: Research in England does not answer this specific question. However, recent research in the United States of America suggests that the average life expectancy of those with rheumatoid arthritis is shortened by about four years for women and eight years for men. Although modern medical and surgical treatment have done a great deal to improve the quality of life for people with rheumatoid arthritis, evidence suggests that there is still room for the development of more effective treatments.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is currently considering the clinical use of etanercept and infliximab as second-line treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in adults. The appraisal is expected to be issued in March 2002.

Carbon Monoxide

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to increase awareness of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning among the medical profession. [28055]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 17 January 2002]: In September 1998, the then Chief Medical Officer, Sir Kenneth Calman and the then Chief Nursing Officer, Mrs. Yvonne Moores published a letter "Carbon Monoxide: The Forgotten Killer". The letter pulled together the most current information available on carbon monoxide and was forwarded to community nurses, midwives, health visitors and general practitioners, who are most likely to be aware of patients' living conditions and so can identify those at increased risk. This letter is currently being revised for re-issue and will be circulated soon.

The Department is also hoping to forward a video tape, prepared for the Health and Safety Executive, to all GP surgeries. This video tape highlights the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and advises medical practitioners on how to diagnose possible cases of poisoning.

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