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Photodynamic Therapy

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is regarding photodynamic therapy and its availability on the NHS. [49022]

Jacqui Smith: At present, photodynamic therapy is not routinely available under the National Health Service. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is carrying out an appraisal of the use of photodynamic therapy in the treatment of macular disease, which they expect to complete in July, providing there are no appeals.

The Department has asked NHS bodies to continue with local arrangements for the managed introduction of new technologies where guidance from NICE is not available at the time the technology first became available. These arrangements should involve an assessment of all relevant factors including the available evidence on effect.

Equipment Assistance (Personal Care)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on providing people on income support with special equipment to help with personal care. [49842]

Jacqui Smith: People on income support who need equipment to help with personal care have it provided on the same basis as other people with the same needs. Equipment provided by the National Health Service is

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free of charge to all. Equipment provided by local councils may attract a charge according to local policy.


David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans there are to distribute fluoridated milk in schools. [50607]

Yvette Cooper: Decisions on whether to offer fluoridated milk in schools are taken locally following consultation between the community dental service, the school and parents. There are currently seven fluoridated milk schemes at schools in the North West and Yorkshire.


David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of cancer were detected using (a) x-rays and (b) CT scanners in each hospital trust in the last 12 months. [50614]

Yvette Cooper: This information requested is not available. Information on the numbers of diagnostic tests undertaken annually does not record the clinical outcome of each individual test.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the PSA target to connect all GP surgeries to NHSnet by the end of 2002 will be met. [47294]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 10 April 2002]: We are on track to meet target. There are likely be some dispensations agreed with Health Authorities for a small number of surgeries where it would not be practical or cost-effective to install a connection for a short period (e.g. where the GP is about to retire, or working from temporary premises).

Equal Treatment

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress he has achieved in establishing a baseline for policy appraisal against which to measure progress on equal treatment; [48010]

Jacqui Smith: [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The Department of Health is committed to providing equality of opportunity in all aspects of its work and gender is one aspect to be considered along with race, disability, age and sexual orientation. All policy development must support of the core principles in the NHS Plan, one of which states that the NHS of the 21st century must be responsive to the needs of different groups and individuals within society and challenge discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability and sexuality. The Department has been working with the Women and Equality unit on the production of the health section of its forthcoming publication "Key Indicators of Women's Position in Britain".

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The Department has also been working in collaboration with the Women and Equality Unit at the Cabinet Office on two case studies to test out the methodology developed by the Unit for assessing gender impact. These are the development of the National Service Framework for Diabetes and the implementation of the National Service Framework for Mental Health. These case studies are nearing completion.

The Diabetes National Service Framework was announced in April 1999 and the standard document to support the NSF was published in December 2001. The report of the use of the Gender Impact Assessment tool in the production of these standards is expected to be published via the Cabinet Office website in the near future. The Diabetes National Service Framework: Standards were developed with the help of an expert reference group with a wide range of representative interests, including service users. The Delivery Strategy will be published later this year and consultation on the contents is being undertaken through the department's website.

Gender impact assessment has been used in developing a strategy around women's mental health. The development of a strategy was announced in March 2001. A consultation document on the women's mental health strategy is to be published in the next few months. A three month formal consultation period will follow.

Press and Public Relations

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer given to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) of 20 March 2002, Official Report, column 436W, how much the increase in personnel employed in a press or public relations function in his Department since 1997 has cost. [47554]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The annual costs of personnel employed in the Departments Communications Directorate since 1997–98 are shown in the table below (£,000):

YearNewsPublicityNHS CommunicationsTotal

1. It is not possible to provide a comparable breakdown of costs. The figures provided include all Communications Directorate staff (staff and staff related costs).

2. For the financial year 2001–02 the annual budget figures are shown as the final expenditure figures are not yet available.

Illegal Meat Imports

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures the Food Standards Agency is taking to detect infected meat which has been imported from abroad and (a) is unsafe for human consumption and (b) could pass the infection to a farm animal; and if he will make a statement. [48175]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 11 April 2002]: European Union (EU) food hygiene legislation on meat for human consumption requires that all meat sold on the single market must be fit for human consumption, and

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free from animal diseases. It must have passed the specified health checks under veterinary supervision, and have been awarded the appropriate health mark.

Meat produced within the EU may circulate freely on the single market, and is not subject to border controls. However, imports of meat from other EU states are subject to random checks by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) at meat cutting plants, or by local authorities in meat plants under their supervision. Following problems over the presence of Specified Risk Material in contravention of BSE rules, the Food Standards Agency has instructed the MHS to inspect every single consignment of imported carcass beef.

All meat imports from third countries also have to satisfy the conditions set out in EU food hygiene and import legislation. The latter includes prior notification and importation through EU authorised Border Inspection Posts (BIPs). In the BIP, the meat is subject to a 100 per cent check of identity and documentation, and a random physical check. The controls cover both public and animal health aspects with responsibility resting respectively with the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Local authorities, including port health authorities, have day-to-day responsibility for enforcement of the import legislation in BIPs.

Agency officials are exploring proposals made in a report approved by the Board of the Food Standards Agency with a view to making a number of improvements to controls on imports at ports, and have already issued written guidance to port health authorities and local authorities to ensure there is continued vigilance and checks on imported products both at the point of import and at the retail level. In addition the Food Standards Agency is taking an active role in interdepartmental initiatives led by DEFRA aimed at co-ordinating action across Government concerned with illegal imports of meat.

Sussex Ambulance Service

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the total cost to public funds since 1 May 1997 from the work carried out, including consultation processes, on the future configuration of the ambulance service serving Sussex. [49278]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 15 April 2002]: The information is not held centrally.

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