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Voluntary Euthanasia

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his policy on voluntary euthanasia. [48021]

Ms Blears: Voluntary euthanasia—the intentional taking of life at the patient's request—is unlawful in the United Kingdom. Anyone alleged to have undertaken it would be open to a charge of murder or manslaughter. Similarly, medical treatment that is either omitted or given to a patient with the specific intention by the health care professional of hastening or inducing death is an illegal act.

The Government have no plans to change the law in this respect.

"Keep Warm, Keep Well"

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was of the Keep Warm, Keep Well leaflet issued by his Department in the winter of 2001–02. [48014]

Jacqui Smith: The cost of the Keep Warm, Keep Well leaflet issued by the Department in the winter of 2001–02 was £257,353.11.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many patients are receiving treatment for diabetes in England and Wales; [47462]

Jacqui Smith: There are an estimated 1.3 million people with diagnosed diabetes in England. Incidence is difficult to predict in diabetes, but it has been estimated that this figure will increase by 3 per cent. each year.

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Information is not collected on the cost of treating individuals with diabetes. Around 5 per cent. of total NHS resources, and up to 10 per cent. of hospital in-patient resources are used for the care of people with diabetes.

The Diabetes National Service Framework: "Standards", published in December 2001, sets 12 standards in nine areas, including the prevention and detection of diabetes. We have asked the National Screening Committee to assess the benefits and drawbacks of screening for Type 2 diabetes. The Committee has decided that further research, which may require some complex studies, is needed to inform its advice. It will report to the Department of Health in 2005.

Mobile Operating Theatres

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many MASH type mobile operating theatres are (a) in use and (b) on order; [47459]

Mr. Hutton: The Department does not collect data on how many NHS Trusts are negotiating to acquire mobile operating theatres, or on how many trusts already have them in place. The purchase of mobile operating theatres is a matter for individual NHS trusts to make, in partnership with their commissioners.

Costs for the provision of mobile operating theatres vary according to the type of facility, the costs of securing plumbing and power, and the length of time the facility is likely to be in operation, as well as a range of site-specific conditions. However, the approximate costs are £3,600 a day or £12,000 per week for a "low loader" facility (which can be moved around from day to day) and for Modular kits, which provide a fixed-temporary service, the cost is £1,200 a day or £750,000 as an outright purchase.

Guidance on ventilation in health care premises and operating departments have been issued by NHS Estates. In 1991, NHS Estates issued "Health Building Note 26 on Operating Departments" which covers the planning and design, including space requirements, maintenance, cleaning, energy consumption, engineering and staffing requirements. While the guidance does not refer directly to mobile operating theatres, the standards set out in the guidance applies to all types of operating theatre. Health Technical Memorandum 2025 was issued in 1993 and sets out how the NHS can ensure facilities control and reduce hazards to patients and staff from airborne contaminants, dust and harmful micro-organisms.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures his Department is taking to ensure appropriate medication is provided for children suffering from asthma. [47457]

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Jacqui Smith: We commissioned the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to produce guidance on inhalers for children under five with chronic asthma. Guidance on that topic was issued in September 2000. Further guidance was commissioned from NICE on the clinical and cost effectiveness of inhalers in older children. This appraisal will be available on the NICE website ( from 11 April.

Cancer Patients

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cancer patients have been waiting more than four weeks, broken down by cancer types. [47456]

Yvette Cooper: Standards of a maximum wait of one month from diagnosis to first treatment for breast cancer and one month from urgent GP referral to treatment for children's and testicular cancers and acute leukaemia came into effect at the end of December 2001. Central monitoring of these standards began on 1 January 2002 and data will be published on a quarterly basis. Data collection on waiting times to treatment for other tumour types will be introduced as we roll out the Cancer Plan waiting times targets.

Hospital Re-admission Rates

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to publish the latest quarter figures for hospital re-admission rates for (a) all ages and (b) those aged over 75. [47543]

Jacqui Smith: Quarterly information on re-admissions is only collected for those aged 75 and over. We currently anticipate that the Quarter 4 (January-March) 2001–02 information will be available late in May.

NHS Leadership Centre

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to make an announcement of a permanent appointment to the position of Head of the NHS Leadership Centre. [47534]

Mr. Hutton: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 11 March 2002, Official Report, column 850W.

Health Trusts (Security Staff)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if health trusts are given an allocation of their budgets to fund security staff for hospital accident and emergency departments. [47524]

Ms Blears: Security and safety of staff, patients and property in the national health service is of great importance to the Government. It is for health authorities in partnership with primary care trusts and other local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services.

Security is provided in trusts by 'in-house' staff or by private security organisations. The method of provision and level of staffing is a matter for individual trusts dependent on the size of the hospital, the locality, staffing levels and the general configuration of the building.

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Guidance on effective management of security in accident and emergency departments was issued by the NHS Executive in 1997 and was an important aspect of the Government strategy when funding the upgrading of A and E departments.

NHS Patients (Overseas Treatment)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the policy of his Department is on sending national health service patients for treatment in South Africa; and which health authorities have approached his Department about sending NHS patients for treatment in South Africa. [47455]

Mr. Hutton: Our policy on commissioning health care outside the European Economic Area remains that such commissioning should only take place where exceptional circumstances apply. No health authorities have approached the Department about sending NHS patients for treatment in South Africa.

NHS Beds

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds are available in the NHS. [47734]

Ms Blears: The latest information on the average daily number of available beds for England is on the Department of Health website

Anti-impotence Drugs

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria were used to decide which medical conditions qualify for anti-impotence prescribing; and if he will make a statement. [37637]

Ms Blears: In 1999 we decided to constrain the spend on drug treatments for impotence broadly within the range £12-£14 million a year, the approximate amount that was being spent on these treatments before the first oral treatment became available. The medical conditions conferring eligibility for NHS prescriptions from GPs were those believed to be commonly associated with impotence that we estimated could be met within the spending range (although, in fact, latest figures indicate that annual expenditure on drug treatments for impotence is £25 million). This does not mean that patients suffering from impotence arising from other causes have no access to drug treatment on the NHS. NHS treatment for such patients is available from specialist services where impotence is causing severe distress.

Following a review in 2001, we decided to continue the existing scheme.

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