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Walk-in Centres

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS walk-in centres there are (a) in England and Wales and (b) in the Buckinghamshire health authority area; and what plans he has for further centres. [32191]

Ms Blears: National health service walk-in centres are being piloted as a new initiative to offer convenient access to primary care services. As pilots, they are being independently evaluated. 42 centres are now open. All of these are in England and none is in the area of Buckinghamshire health authority.

Our decisions on the future development of NHS walk-in centres will be informed by the independent evaluation report.

Cleanliness

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will made a statement on NHS policy in respect of a cleanliness standard for patients; whether the Chief Medical Officer has made recommendations on this; whether guidelines to hospital and health trusts have been issued by his Department; and if he will make a statement. [32522]

Ms Blears: The National Standards of Cleanliness for the national health service were announced in April 2001.

The standards provide a comprehensive basis which hospitals can adapt for local requirements. They measure what is, or is not, clean.

All hospitals will be required to report a score against the National Standards of Cleanliness for the NHS on an annual basis. This score will form part of the Performance Assessment Framework by which trusts performance against key targets is assessed.

For the first time, members of the public will know how their local hospital compares against other hospitals in terms of actual cleanliness.

All trusts in England have received guidelines on how to implement the National Standards of Cleanliness for the NHS, and a series of regional workshops were held in November 2001 to support this initiative.

Macular Degeneration

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to make Verteporfin available on the NHS for the treatment of age related macular degeneration. [32583]

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Ms Blears: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently undertaking an appraisal of this treatment and will advise if it should be made generally available under the national health service. NICE expects to publish its advice in July 2002.

Patient Confidentiality

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health under what powers, and in what circumstances, an NHS trust or other health body is permitted to pass information from patients' medical records to (a) his office and (b) the Prime Minister's office. [32705]

Ms Blears: The powers and circumstances under or in which national health service trusts and other health bodies may pass information from patients' medical records to my office and that of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, are limited by the common law and the legislation on data protection and human rights which we have put on the statute book. For example, information may be disclosed where the patient to whom it relates has consented or has deliberately taken steps to make it public.

Teenage Pregnancy (South Tyneside)

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the sexual health strategy aims to reduce teenage pregnancy rates in South Tyneside. [26042]

Yvette Cooper: The sexual health and HIV strategy is distinct from the teenage pregnancy strategy and considers the sexual health needs of all age groups. However, its main aims of improving the information provided for the public and modernising sexual health services will support implementation of the South Tyneside local teenage pregnancy strategy, which aims to halve the local under 18 conception rate by 2010.

Organ Retention

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to change arrangements for the removal, retention and use of human organs and tissue; and if he will make a statement. [32544]

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Government intend to introduce legislation to cover the removal and storage of human organs by hospitals and universities. [32291]

Mr. Hutton: In his advice to the Government, published last year, the chief medical officer made 17 specific recommendations regarding the removal, retention and use of human organs and tissue. These recommendations were accepted by us. We have an extensive programme of implementation, led by the Department, which is working closely with other Government Departments and other agencies. This includes the following:


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Private Hospitals

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what percentage of private hospitals provide (a) whole-time and (b) part-time accident and emergency cover; [31126]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 28 January 2002]: The information requested is not held centrally, but when the National Care Standards Commission takes over from health authorities the regulation of private health care services on 1 April this year, it will compile a comprehensive national database about service providers and the facilities they offer.

Private hospitals will be required to have staff available at all times trained in resuscitation, and have procedures in place for transferring patients to intensive care facilities, when necessary, if they do not have them on site. However, private hospitals will not be required to have accident and emergency departments as they treat only elective cases—they do not take casualties.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of private hospitals have 24 hour medical cover in the form of qualified doctors. [31124]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 28 January 2001]: The information requested is not collected centrally. However, the national minimum standards that will come into force on 1 April when the National Care Standards Commission takes over the regulation of private hospitals, require that where an establishment provides in-patient care, there is a resident medical officer, trained in resuscitation to advanced life support level, available immediately at all times.

Tonsillectomy

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what cost-benefit analysis was performed prior to the introduction of single-use instruments for tonsillectomy. [32776]

Yvette Cooper: The decision to introduce single use instruments for tonsillectomy was taken after receiving advice from Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory

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Committee (SEAC), the expert body that advises the Government on BSE and CJD, that rigorous implementation of washing, decontamination and general hygiene procedures are key measures in minimising the risk of infection. The Committee also considered that, where practicable, the use of single-use instruments for surgery was to be encouraged. The Committee identified tonsillectomies as an operation where practical steps might be readily taken.

General Practitioners Recruitment

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the NHS GP Golden Hello scheme. [34137]

Mr. Hutton: We announced the national health service general practitioner Golden Hello Scheme in March 2001 and, after consultation with stakeholders, introduced the scheme on 2 November 2001. We are committed to keeping the scheme under review and are monitoring take-up. It is, however, still too early to draw any conclusions beyond the fact that the scheme has been generally welcomed by GPs and by their representative groups, including the General Practitioners Committee of the British Medical Association.


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