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GP Surgeries

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients have been burnt by radiators in GP surgeries in each of the past 10 years; and what he estimates to be the cost to GP practices of installing radiator guards in every surgery in the UK. [31029]

Ms Blears: There are about 10,500 general practitioner premises in England. Information on the numbers of radiators and incidents is not collected centrally.

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Burns from radiators are not reportable under the Reporting of Incidents, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations. To collect the information requested would incur disproportionate costs.

We estimate it would cost approximately £100 to fit a guard to a radiator.

In 1998 National Health Service Estates issued guidance relating to low surface temperatures (Health Guidance Note "Safe Hot Water and Surface Temperatures"). The installation of low surface temperature radiators is advised in all health care settings. This eliminates the need for guard installation.

NHS Service Reviews

Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department is making of the efficacy of public and community involvement in local reviews of NHS services. [30793]

Ms Blears: Subject to the passage and subsequent enactment of section 19 of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Bill, the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health will make an independent assessment of the efficacy of public and community involvement in local reviews through it's work with patients' forums and overview and scrutiny committees. These data will be collected locally by the commission and fed to Government via the commission's headquarters.

A prime example of the involvement of local people in determining the future of their health services occurred in my hon. Friend's constituency. It was agreed, after strong views were expressed by Crawley residents, that a review of the future provision of health care in South East Surrey and North West Sussex would take place. This review will involve local stakeholders in seeking agreement on a configuration which will ensure appropriate local access and meet the requirement for high quality, professional care.

Hormonal Treatments

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research has been conducted into the effects of hormonal treatments on women who are prone to (a) bipolar and (b) depressive illness; and if he will make a statement. [31075]

Yvette Cooper: Neither the Department nor the Medical Research Council (MRC) are currently supporting any research specifically into the effects of hormonal treatments on women who are prone to bipolar and depressive illness.

The main Government agency for research into the causes of and treatments for disease is the MRC which receives its funding via the Department of Trade and Industry. The MRC have a significant amount of research into mental disorders, including depression and is also funding the WISDOM (Women's International Study of Long Duration Oestrogen after Menopause) trial which is looking at women on long term hormone replacement therapy.

The Department provides national health service support funding for research commissioned by the research councils and charities that take place in the NHS.

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The Department is providing or has provided support for a number of projects on mental health in general. Details of research projects can be found on the National Research Register, which is available in the Library and most medical libraries on CD-ROM, or on the internet at


Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the levels of obesity in the UK; and if he will make a statement; [31162]

Yvette Cooper: The most recent health survey for England, in 1999, showed that one in five adults suffers from obesity. The National Audit Office report: Tackling Obesity in England, published in February 2001, provides a comprehensive assessment on the levels of obesity in England. It found that obesity had nearly trebled in the last 20 years, and is responsible for 9,000 deaths each year, before the age of retirement. It also states that obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The most likely causes of obesity are identified as an increasingly sedentary lifestyle combined with changes in eating patterns.

Obesity is a complex condition, but is largely preventable through addressing diet and physical activity. We have therefore put in place major cross-Government programmes of work to address these factors. The NHS Plan, Cancer Plan and National Service Frameworks all prioritise action to improve diet and increase physical activity.

Also the National Service Framework for Diabetes, published in December 2001, recognises obesity as a modifiable risk factor for type 2 diabetes and that it will need to be the focus of prevention strategies for diabetes.

The Health Development Agency is currently reviewing the evidence on effective interventions to prevent obesity. Their report, to be published early this year, will provide the evidence base on what works. To support primary care trusts, we have also asked the Health Development Agency to develop a framework to support the development of programmes to prevent overweight and obesity.

Last year the National Institute for Clinical Excellence issued guidance on the anti-obesity drugs Orlistat and Sibutramine. Patients are prescribed these drugs to help them lose weight in combination with counselling and advice on diet and exercise.

Ministerial Meetings

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he last met the health minister in the Scottish Executive; and if he will make a statement. [31335]

Ms Blears: On Monday 28 January 2002.

Kidney Dialysis

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many kidney dialysis machines have been

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issued to patients for use in their homes in each of the last five years in (a) the UK and (b) Hillingdon Health Authority. [31355]

Jacqui Smith: The available information is based on figures published in the third annual report of the United Kingdom Renal Registry, copies of which are available in the Library. In 1998 there were 516 patients in England using a haemodialysis machine at home. In addition, it is estimated that 1,150 adult patients and 83 children were using home automated cycling machines for peritoneal dialysis. Information for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is a matter for the devolved administrations. Equivalent information is not available at health authority level.

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the penalties that apply to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Warrford if surgical waiting list targets across all surgical disciplines are not met. [31547]

Ms Blears [holding answer 29 January 2002]: The performance against waiting list targets by the Royal Devon and Exeter healthcare national health service trust will be one of a number of criteria used to assess the trust in the annual performance ratings. There are no financial penalties if the trust does not reach key targets on waiting times; however, the trust's performance rating will determine how the trust can use additional monies from the performance fund. The best performing trusts gain additional freedoms in recognition of their success.

Departmental Leave Entitlements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the average annual leave entitlement of staff in his Department in each of the last four years. [31742]

Ms Blears: The Department holds no information on the average annual leave entitlement however actual leave entitlement in the last four years can be provided as shown in the table.

YearOn entryAfter one yearAfter 10, 15 or 20 years service depending on civil service grade

As of 1 August


1. Excludes staff in the senior civil service whose annual leave entitlement is currently set by Cabinet Office at 30 days and has been so for the last four years.

2. Excludes part-time, job share and casual staff annual leave entitlement. This is calculated at a pro rata rate dependent on the terms of employment.

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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the waiting list was for infertility treatment, broken down by health authority; how much each health authority spent on infertility treatment in each year since 1997; what action will be taken to address the differences according to area in infertility treatment; and if he will make a statement. [32717]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested on the waiting list and the amounts spent by health authorities is not available centrally. The Department undertook a baseline survey of infertility provision in the national health service in 1999. A report on this "Survey of NHS Infertility Services 1997–98" has been published and copies are available in the Library.

We have listened carefully to the representations we have received from couples seeking infertility treatment, and from hon. Members and interested bodies working in the field. We have asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to consider and update the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' existing guidelines on the management of infertility treatment in order to ensure that clinical guidance based on the latest knowledge and best practice are available for use throughout the NHS.

We want to see an improved service and greater efficiency for the benefit of all patients. We see the referral of these guidelines to NICE as a major step forward in infertility treatment by which we can act positively to improve services and reduce the postcode lottery in this area of health care.

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