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Strategic Health Authorities

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects the appointments to be made of the chairs and other members of the boards of the strategic health authorities in England. [24637]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: The names of 27 of the new health authority chairs were announced by the national health service appointments commission on 19 December 2001. The appointment of the remaining chair was announced on 21 December 2001. The Commission expects to appoint the non- executive members between January and April this year.

Community Health Councils

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many representations he has received from members of community health councils supporting their abolition; [24625]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: The listening exercise on "Involving Patients and the Public in Health Care" generated a large number of responses from a wide range of sources—including community health councils, members of the public, the voluntary sector, the national health service and local government. We were not consulting on whether CHCs should be abolished—that is our intention and is currently subject to parliamentary scrutiny. We were seeking views on the how the replacement arrangements should work.

The Association of Community Health Councils in England and Wales and the majority of CHCs accept that the system of patient and public involvement in the NHS needs to be modernised and that the new system has many advantages. We continue to work with the Association for

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Community Health Councils in England and Wales and other key stakeholders to ensure that what replaces CHCs builds on the best of CHCs and secures improved patient and public involvement in the NHS.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many paramedics are on long-term sick leave in England as a result of (a) work-related injuries and (b) being physically assaulted by the general public in the line of work. [24332]

Ms Blears [holding answer 8 January 2002]: Information on levels of sickness absence resulting from work-related injuries or violence at work, by individual staff group, is not collected centrally, but may be held at a local level by individual national health service employers.

The Department conducted a survey of NHS trusts in England in 1998–99. The survey found that, on average, seven violent incidents were recorded each month per 1,000 staff. This is equivalent to approximately 65,000 violent incidents against NHS trust staff each year. The average monthly accident rate for NHS ambulance trusts was 38 per month per 1,000 staff. Details of the survey can be found in Health Service Circular 1999/229: 'Managing Violence, Accidents and Sickness Absence in the NHS', a copy of which is in the Library.

The average sickness absence rate for staff directly employed by NHS ambulance trusts in 1999 was 6.6 per cent.

Patient Confidentiality

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the NHS guidelines and rules regarding patient confidentiality. [31221]

Ms Blears: Guidance on patient confidentiality was issued to the national health service in March 1996 entitled 'The Protection and Use of Patient Information'. This has been supplemented by guidance to NHS staff responsible for advising their organisations on patient confidentiality—Caldicott Guardians—in the form of a manual entitled 'Protecting and Using Patient Information: A manual for Caldicott Guardians' issued in March 1999. A strategic framework for improving confidentiality as part of wider work to modernise the NHS was published in December 2001 entitled 'Protecting and Using Patient Information: A strategy for the NHS'.

Primary Care Budgets

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will state for each primary care organisation in England at the most recent date for which figures are available (a) the prescribing budget for 2001–02, (b) the forecast outturn for 2001–02, (c) the projected overspend or underspend and (d) the projected overspend or underspend as a percentage of budget. [32306]

Ms Blears [holding answer 1 February 2002]: A table setting out the prescribing budgets notified to the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA) by each primary care trust or primary care group has been placed in the Library. They are practice level prescribing budgets. They do not necessarily reflect the total resource set aside

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locally for prescribing as primary care trusts, primary care groups and health authorities may hold contingency reserves. The forecast outturns are based on prescribing data up to and including November 2001.

Surgical Instruments

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the value of the re-usable instruments destroyed following the advice of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee on their use. [32778]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what factors were used to inform purchasing decisions for single-use instruments for tonsillectomy in 2001. [32781]

Jacqui Smith: The following criteria were used to evaluate suppliers and their products to make sure that single use instruments were acceptable to the national health service:

Road Traffic Accidents

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patient stays in the last three years in NHS hospitals were subject to recovery of costs because the individual concerned had been involved in a motor accident; and how much revenue arose (a) by entitlement to recovery and (b) by actual repayment. [32462]

Ms Blears [holding answer 4 February 2002]: Since April 1999 the recovery of national health service charges following road traffic accidents has been undertaken centrally by the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health. Charges are recoverable where a road traffic accident victim is treated at a NHS hospital and subsequently makes a successful claim for personal injury compensation. The CRU collects charges from insurers and pays them direct to NHS trusts when the compensation claim settles. CRU is responsible only for recovery on claims that settle on or after 5 April 1999.

The amount of income potentially owing to NHS trusts in England for patient stays since 5 April 1999 is £71.7 million and the total amount paid to NHS trusts is £74.9 million. These figures do not represent the full amounts potentially owing or paid to NHS trusts as they relate only to patient stays since 5 April 1999. Although the CRU can only recover costs where a personal injury compensation payment settles on or after 5 April 1999, there are a large number of cases where the accident and patient's hospital treatment will have occurred before this date.

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Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 29 January 2002 (ref 27681), Official Report, column 272W, what the figure would have been for (a) 1999 and (b) 2000 if the counting procedures had been corrected in those years. [32858]

Ms Blears [holding answer 4 February 2002]: As a result of the changes in the counting procedures it would not be possible to calculate with any degree of accuracy the corrected number of out-patients waiting for treatment for 1999 and 2000.

Beta Interferon

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when a decision is expected on funding arrangements for beta interferon; [33128]

Ms Blears [holding answer 5 February 2002]: I am pleased to announce that in line with the recommendation from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence we have concluded an agreement with five companies on an innovative scheme which allows patients with multiple sclerosis meeting the criteria of the Association of British Neurologists to be treated cost-effectively with disease modifying therapies on the national health service. The companies have agreed terms for the supply of their products under the scheme. Patients will be monitored to confirm whether the drugs are working. Prices will be reduced if patients do not benefit as expected.

The scheme starts on 6 May 2002. NHS bodies are expected to fund any treatment within this scheme prescribed by clinicians for eligible patients, in accordance with statutory directions. Consultant neurologists, in consultation with patients, will have a choice of treatments within the scheme taking into account expected benefit and potential side effects. The products included in the scheme are Avonex (Biogen), Betaferon (Schering), Copaxone (Teva/Aventis), Rebif 22mg and 44mg (Serono).

Patients whose condition does not come within the ABN guidelines and who are currently receiving treatment with these drugs will continue to do so in line with NICE's recommendation on this point. I am also taking steps to ensure that those patients who have funded their treatment privately because the drug was not available to them locally on the NHS will have the costs of their prescription met from today.

Copies of the Health Service Circular issued to the NHS to explain the scheme have been placed in the Library.

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