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Alzheimer's Disease

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) men and (b) women in England suffer from Alzheimer's disease. [24693]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 8 January 2002]: This information is not routinely collected. The 1998 Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study estimated that about 600,000 people in the United Kingdom have dementia. Alzheimer's disease causes up to 60 per cent. of cases of dementia.

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The only available statistical returns are for hospital admissions. The number of admissions in England, by sex, for Alzheimer's disease in 2000–01 is shown in the table.

Sex not known41

NHS Direct

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the average time taken to answer NHS Direct's telephones (a) at weekends, (b) between 6 pm and 11 pm, (c) between 11 pm and 6 am and (d) during daytime office hours in the last 12 months. [24700]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: It is not currently possible to provide the information on average time taken to answer NHS Direct calls as requested. However, the average time it takes for NHS Direct to answer the telephone is approximately 30 seconds after the confidentiality message finishes.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many calls NHS Direct received in each of the last six months. [24699]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: The information on the number of calls to NHS Direct for each of the last six months is shown in the table.

Month/yearTotal calls


NHS Direct sites

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St. John Ambulance Volunteers

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many times in 2001 St. John Ambulance volunteers carried out duties normally the responsibility of London ambulance service personnel. [24308]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: Figures are not held centrally for the number of times the London ambulance service have called upon the individual services of St. John Ambulance.

Head Injuries

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans there are to increase support and training for head injury survivors. [25453]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 9 January 2002]: We are keen to help ensure that all disabled people, including those with head injury, are able to play a full part in society. One important way of doing this is by helping people return to work whenever possible. Currently local authorities are taking the lead on Joint Investment Plans on Welfare to Work for disabled people initiative. The idea of these plans is to provide effective and joined up services for disabled people who want to work, to stay in work, or to move closer to the world of work.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government have to compile up-to-date epidemiological data on the extent and severity of traumatic brain injury. [25454]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 9 January 2002]: There are no plans to extend our data collection. We already collect data on the number, extent and severity of traumatic brain injury, as shown in the table, which has data for the last five years. Around one million people a year receive a head injury in the United Kingdom, and over 100,000 of those attend hospital.

Finished consultant episodes (FCEs) by main diagnosis NHS hospitals, England 1995–96 to 2000–01

S00—S09 Injuries to the head1995–961996–971997–981998–991999–20002000–01
S00 Superficial injury of head9,73110,82911,00010,87512,29311,379
S01 Open wound of head20,18023,18623,82423,66827,18425,883
S02 Fracture of skull and facial bones29,83931,41930,26527,83730,82528,318
S03 Dislocation sprain and strain of joints and ligaments of head317381367410349314
S04 Injury of cranial nerves7863949610668
S05 Injury of eye and orbit3,6553,5033,3203,2553,5913,230
S06 Intracranial injury23,22620,03616,52911,94212,79011,892
S07 Crushing injury of head30161119165
S08 Traumatic amputation of part of head127116102111123123
S09 Other and unspecified injuries of head40,91242,19341,10240,16343,27139,175


A Finished Consultant Episode (FCE) is defined as a period of patient care under one consultant in one health care provider. The figures do not represent the number of patients, as one person may have several episodes within the year. Data for 1995–96 to 1997–98 are adjusted for both coverage and unknown/invalid clinical data. 1998–99 to 2000–01 data are not yet adjusted for shortfalls.

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Hospital Management

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria will be used to assess the need for franchised management of persistently failing hospitals. [29398]

Mr. Hutton: If a national health service body is not performing one or more of its functions adequately or at all, or there are significant failings in the way the trust is being run, the Secretary of State for Health has the powers, under section 13 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001, to intervene.

In the case of trusts that have recently received a zero star performance rating they are required to provide an action plan, agreed with the Department, to address the particular areas of performance which they need to improve. Franchise arrangements will be considered only if these trusts fail to make progress against their action plan.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to attract back retired general practitioners to work in the medical profession; and if he will make a statement. [29968]

Mr. Hutton: We are committed to increasing general practitioner numbers in line with the NHS Plan target for at least an extra 2,000 by 2004. To deliver this we are, in consultation with the profession and others, exploring and implementing change to make general practice more attractive.

These changes already include increasing the number of training places, recruiting from overseas, providing additional training and support for new GPs; improving GPs' working lives by reducing bureaucracy and introducing family friendly packages; giving better support by providing better information technology, better buildings and different ways of working; developing flexible career options; and offering cash incentives to new GPs or returning GP retainees. These measures are intended to attract new GPs, to retain those now practising, and to encourage the return of those who are qualified but not currently working in general practice.

Primary Care Trusts

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria he has used in the evaluation of primary care groups in their applications to become primary care trusts; and if he will make a statement. [29969]

Mr. Hutton: Primary care trusts are established after full and open consultation locally. Each application to establish a PCT is assessed against the nationally published criteria for assessment contained in Health Service Circular 1999/167. Applications must demonstrate:

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Mobile Phones

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his definition is of other sensitive sites referred to in the Stewart report on "Mobile Phones and Health"; and whether this includes sites directly on top of homes. [31345]

Ms Blears: In May 2000, the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP), chaired by Sir William Stewart, issued a report on "Mobile Phones and Health". This report included a number of recommendations designed to provide more information to people about base stations in their area. It included a recommendation that there should be an independent random on-going audit of all base stations to ensure that exposure guidelines are not exceeded outside the marked exclusion zones and that the base stations comply with their agreed specifications. The group said that particular attention should be paid initially to the auditing of base stations near to schools and other sensitive sites. The group was particularly concerned about schools, as at open meetings held by the group around the country, concern had been expressed about the potential exposure of children in schools and this was seen as a sensitive issue. The group was not specific about other sensitive sites. There was no specific concern about homes directly underneath base stations as the radio signals are generally directed to the horizon and not downwards.

The IEGMP was also concerned about possible interference caused by the use of mobile phones in hospitals and other sites where the radio frequency radiation could possibly interfere with sensitive equipment. They, therefore, made a recommendation that health authorities/health boards should issue guidance on the use of mobile phones and should ensure that all hospitals comply. This guidance includes the placing of visible warning signs at entrances to buildings to indicate that mobile phones should be switched off. In addition, health care establishments have liaised carefully with mobile phone organisations to ensure that any risk is negligible to patients and staff when considering the location of base stations on their premises.

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