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Food Safety

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the funding of research into food safety. [38008]

Yvette Cooper: Many factors affect the safety of food including chemical, radiological and microbiological contamination. Nutrition and other issues may also affect whether an individual is following a safe diet. Research on food safety is therefore correspondingly diverse both in the nature of the research and its funding. Direct Government funding of the research is through the research councils and the Food Standards Agency while other funds are also available through the academic funding system. In addition, the food industry itself funds food safety research either directly or through industrial levies or in LINK schemes with, for example, DEFRA.

Private Treatment

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients at Weston General Hospital have been treated by the private sector over the past five years; what the nature of the treatment was; and what the total cost of these treatments was. [40490]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not held centrally.

Health Expenditure

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list for (a) England and (b) the Avon health authority the expenditure on health per head of the population, expressed in real terms, for each year since 1999. [40491]

Mr. Hutton: The expenditure on health by weighted head of population in real terms for Avon health authority area and England for each year since 1999 is shown in the table.

Expenditure by health authorities and primary care trusts

Avon health authority747.51810.53


1. Expenditure is taken from health authority and primary care trust summarisation forms which are prepared on a resource basis and therefore differ from cash allocations in the year.

2. Allocations per weighted head of population provide a much more reliable measure to identify differences between funding of health authorities.

3. The expenditure is the total spent on commissioning healthcare by the health authority and by the primary care trusts within each health authority area. The majority of General Dental Services expenditure is not included in the health authority or primary care trust accounts and is separately accounted for by the Dental Practice Board. An element of drugs expenditure in 1999–2000 and 2000–01 is accounted for by the Prescription Pricing Authority and not by health authorities.

4. Health authorities and primary care trusts should account for their expenditure on a gross basis. This results in an element of double counting in 2000–01 where one body acts as the main commissioner and is then reimbursed by other bodies. The effect of this double counting within the answer cannot be identified.

5. Some health authorities act as lead commissioners for particular specialties which inflates their figures when compared with others and also causes differences between years. Other factors may also distort the figures so the results are therefore not all directly comparable with each other and with answers to similar questions for previous years.


Health authority audited summarisation forms 1999–2000 and 2000–01

Primary care trust audited summarisation schedules 2000–01

Weighted population estimates for 1999–2000 and 2000–01

GDP deflator at market prices with 2000–01 as the base year

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Day Surgery Patients

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government have to increase the proportion of day surgery patients being treated in (a) cottage hospitals and (b) GP surgeries. [40856]

Mr. Hutton: Professor Ara Darzi has been asked to advise on how day surgery rates can be increased across the national health service as part of his appointment to advise the Department of Health on surgical issues.

The recent Audit Commission report on day surgery showed that in some trusts minor procedures are often treated in day surgery units while they could be carried out in treatment rooms or out-patient departments. This leads to surgery patients having to wait longer for their operations or having them as in-patients. As part of the day surgery strategy, Professor Darzi will be looking to ensure that day case procedures are undertaken in day surgery units.

General practitioners already carry out minor procedures in their surgeries, but there is the potential for more to be undertaken. Providing these services in the community gives patients better access to treatment, and reduces the time they would have to wait for the procedure. For these reasons the NHS plan provides that by 2004 there will be up to 1,000 specialist GPs taking referrals from fellow GPs for conditions in certain specialties, such as ophthalmology and dermatology. The Department is working with the Royal College of General Practitioners in developing this initiative.


Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what he estimates the cost to the NHS will be of the proposed new Health and Safety Executive regulations on asbestos. [39288]

Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 1 March 2002]: I have been asked to reply.

Total costs for the removal of asbestos from NHS hospitals and among all other health care facilities excluding hospitals are shown in the table. These figures have been revised upwards since publication of the consultative document, and include costs arising from the provisions implementing the chemical agents directive.

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Costs in NHS hospitals and all other health care establishments
£ million

SectorCosts over 50 years (not discounted)Yearly costs averaged over the first 5 years
Hospitals (NHS)364
Other health care (all)314

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence he has evaluated that white asbestos is more dangerous than asbestos substitutes. [39290]

Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 1 March 2002]: I have been asked to reply.

The Institute for Environment and Health undertook a study for the Health and Safety Executive in 1998. Copies of the report "Chrysotile and its substitutes: a critical evaluation" is available in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report stated that white asbestos at high enough exposures could cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. It also confirmed that this type was often contaminated with other higher risk types such as blue brown asbestos. It judged three substitutes to be less harmful, polyvinyl alcohol, aramid and cellulose. The report recognised that exposure to white asbestos will arise from asbestos-containing materials in buildings. While it indicated that exposure would be lower than in manufacturing, it was a persistent problem that would remain for many years to come. It therefore recommended wherever practicable the safer substitutes should be used.

Comparative Health Outcomes

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the differences in (a) health outcomes and (b) the effectiveness of health services between England and other developed countries; and if he will make a statement. [10742]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 31 October 2001]: I apologise to the hon. Member for the delay in responding to this question. I refer him to the reply that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood (Mrs. Humble) on 5 March 2000, Official Report, column 192W.

Making comparisons between health services in different countries on a like-for-like basis is not straightforward and truly comparable data are often unavailable. However, "The NHS Plan", published last year, contains some assessment of the differences between the United Kingdom and health services in other developed countries.

This assessment contributed to the programme as set out in "The NHS Plan". The national health service will continue to improve in effectiveness and efficiency as the plan is implemented.

We have promised the following extra resources to help improve NHS services:

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In addition to extra resources it is essential that investment is accompanied by reform.

The Department is setting national standards, matched by regular inspection of all local health bodies by the Commission for Health Improvement.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence will ensure that cost effective drugs like those for cancer are not dependent on where you live. The NHS Modernisation Agency has been set up to spread best practice.

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