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Medical Records

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of patients have access to electronic personal medical records. [47001]

Yvette Cooper: At present no official figures are available on the proportion of patients who have been given direct on-line, secure access to their electronic medical records. However, we are aware of a number of

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sites who have taken forward work in this area. These include the Bury Knowle Health Centre (Oxford) and the Hadfield Medical Centre (Derbyshire) funded by the electronic record development and implementation programme (ERDIP). These sites, as well as the work being taken forward by the ERDIP site in south Staffordshire (how to satisfy requirement of law, ethic and policy), will inform policy development and any future national rollout.

School Fruit

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will specify the countries of origin of the fruit supplied as part of the National School Fruit Scheme. [47032]

Yvette Cooper: The countries of origin of fruit supplied to schools as part of the national school fruit scheme are the UK, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand, Cameroon, South Africa, Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guadaloupe, Martinique, Surinam, Uruguay, USA and Windward Islands. The choice at any one time depends on season and crop in supplying countries.

MRI Procedures

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many MRI procedures have been carried out since the publication of the NHS National Plan. [47014]

Yvette Cooper: For the financial year 2000–01, there were a total of 632,594 magnetic resonance imaging scans carried out by national health service trusts in England.


Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on article 5 of the European Union food supplements directive and the potential banning of selenium. [48217]

Yvette Cooper: Article 5 of the proposed food supplements directive would establish the approach to setting maximum limits for vitamins and minerals present in food supplements. The Food Standards Agency, which has taken the lead on negotiating this directive on the Government's behalf, is now directing its energies towards arguing the case for these limits to be based on thorough scientific risk assessments and forging strong links between the scientific committee on foods and an expert group it has set up to advise on acceptable levels.

The positive list in annexe II of the directive, which lists permitted sources of vitamins and minerals, already includes three sources of selenium; additional sources may be added during the seven-year transitional period allowed under the directive.

Folic Acid

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of folic acid. [47419]

Yvette Cooper: A Medical Research Council trial in 1991 showed that supplementation with folic acid significantly reduced the risk of neural tube defects

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(NTD) in women who had already been through a pregnancy affected by NTD. Following this, in 1992, the then Government issued guidance on supplementation. All women planning a pregnancy are advised to take a daily 400 milligramme supplement from before conception until the twelfth week of pregnancy. They are also advised to eat folate-rich foods.

In 2000, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) advised that fortification of wheat flour with folic acid would help to reduce the number of births affected by NTDs. However, COMA also recognised the potential for increased folic acid intake to mask vitamin B12 deficiency, particularly in older people. The level of fortification recommended by COMA aimed to minimise the number of people having intakes of folic acid which may mask B12 deficiency.

A consultation document on COMA's conclusions was issued in July 2000 jointly by the Health Departments and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The majority of residents were in favour of fortification although this was not overwhelming (59 per cent.). The most common concerns were over the potential risks of fortification and the possible restriction of consumer choice.

Meat Products

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what outbreaks of disease in humans in Britain have been linked to the import of illegal meat products in the past five years. [46775]

Yvette Cooper: The UK organisations involved in the collection of foodborne disease data are not aware of any links of illegal imported meat products to outbreaks of foodborne disease in humans in the last five years.

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Overseas Treatment

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2002, Official Report, column 1412W, on overseas treatment, how many patients have travelled overseas to receive treatment in continental hospitals since 15 February; and from which health authorities. [47523]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Between 15 February and 22 April a total of 138 patients travelled overseas to receive treatment in continental hospitals. 57 of these patients were from East Kent, 36 from West Sussex and 45 from Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the total savings to public funds of the Private Finance Initiative contract for the Richmond Friary Community Hospital for the Northallerton Health Services NHS Trust by comparison with a non-Private Finance Initiative alternative; [49511]

Jacqui Smith: The business case justifying the individual schemes estimated the net savings in present value terms (ie all future costs and benefits discounted to their present values) compared with publicly funding the scheme is set out in the table.

Net present costs of PSC v. PFI option

TrustPFI £000Public £000Savings in net present value terms £000Difference percentage
Northallerton Health Services National Health Service Trust—Richmond Friary Community Hospital2,4573,7221,2650.05
Bradford Community Health National Health Service Trust—Horton Park Centre7,1368,3501,2140.17
Hull and East Riding Community Health National Health Service Trust—Withernsea Hospital(35)729,926(35)734,667(35)4,741(35)0.064

(35) Equivalent annual cost.

Research (Maternity and Paediatric Care)

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) published on the relationship between maternity and paediatric care. [41405]

Yvette Cooper: The Department has not commissioned any such research. The maternity and neonatal work force group (MNWG) that was set up last year is considering the best models for providing maternity and neonatal care based on existing evidence.


Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many paediatric intensive care beds have been (a) funded, (b) established and (c) staffed by quarter in the last five years for which figures are available. [41478]

Yvette Cooper: The number of paediatric intensive care beds that are funded, established and staffed for each quarter for the last five years is not collected centrally.

The number of available paediatric intensive care beds is collected in an annual census. Available beds are those beds available to be used/or being used by patients. The information is given in the following table.

Paediatric intensive care beds available at 31 March, England

Available number of paediatric intensive care beds
31 March 2001291
31 March 2000280
31 March 1999278
31 March 1998289
31 March 1997235


Department of Health form KH03

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NHS Efficiency Savings

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the level of (a) waste, (b) fraud and (c) inefficiency in the NHS in each of the last five years; and what measures he has introduced to reduce the level. [46730]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The Department monitors and manages the performance of the NHS in the delivery of the key targets set out in the "NHS Plan". In addition, the NHS is subject to external independent audit by the Audit Commission and the National Audit Office. They publish a number of studies each year on the value for money of aspects of the NHS. The Department considers each of these reports, and implements their recommendations where appropriate.

Analysis using data from November 1998 identified £117 million of pharmaceutical patient fraud. Further analysis showed that this had been reduced to £48 million by 1999 (41 per cent.). A range of measures have been introduced to reduce fraud, including patient exemption checks and a penalty charge where a person fails to pay appropriate NHS charges.

In addition, we have set about improving governance arrangements to ensure the necessary standards of accountability, probity and openness through the introduction in 1999 of the controls assurance standards.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what total sum was achieved for efficiency and other value for money gains in the NHS in 2000–01. [47729]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Allocations to health authorities (HAs) in 2000–01 were made net of 3 per cent. efficiency savings. This means that HAs needed to achieve the efficiency target to fully fund delivery of national targets.

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