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East Cheshire Hospice

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will provide extra funds to Cheshire Social Services and the Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust to enable them to increase support for the East Cheshire Hospice. [55417]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 10 May 2002]: Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) is working closely with East Cheshire Hospice and is investing significantly in the services it provides. This follows a comprehensive review of cancer services, including palliative care, by the former South Cheshire health authority, which developed a four-year strategy in consultation with all relevant partners, including the hospice itself. Funding has risen in real terms over the last year. We have pledged, in the NHS Cancer Plan, that the national health service contribution to the costs of specialist palliative care will increase.

Mid Essex Hospital Trust

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients in the Mid Essex Hospital Trust area have been waiting (a) over 12 months and (b) over 15 months for treatment. [55738]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 14 May 2002]: At 31 March 2002 Mid Essex Hospital Services national health service trust had 320 patients waiting more than 12 months for elective admission. The trust had no patients waiting more than 15 months.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) general practitioner and (b) practice nurse vacancies there are within the Mid Essex Hospital Trust area. [55736]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 14 May 2002]: The Department first carried out a survey into general practitioner (GP) recruitment, retention and vacancies in 2000. The information is collated on a health authority basis.

In the 2001 survey North Essex health authority reported that it had 27 GP vacancies outstanding at some time in the 12-month period 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001.

Results from the 2002 survey should be available later in the year.

Information on practice nurse vacancies is not collected centrally.

Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many operations have been cancelled at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford in the last available month; and what percentage of the cancelled operations were carried out within four weeks. [55734]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 14 May 2002]: Data are collected quarterly. In Quarter 3 2001–02 there were 88 operations cancelled at Mid Essex Hospital Services

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national health service trust at the last minute (operations cancelled by the hospital for non-clinical reasons on, or after the day the patient was due to be admitted). Fifteen patients were not readmitted within one month.

From 1 April 2002 if a patient has their operation cancelled by the hospital on the day of surgery for non-clinical reasons the hospital will have to offer another binding date within a maximum of the next 28 days or fund the patient's treatment at the time and hospital of the patient's choice.

Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the (a) income and (b) expenditure of the Ashford and St. Peter's hospitals was during the financial year ended on 31 March; [53912]

Ms Blears [holding answer 2 May 2002]: Ashford and St. Peter's hospitals national health service trust's final audited accounts for the 2001–02 financial year are still to be produced.

The trust received planned support at the beginning of the 2001–02 financial year from West Surrey health authority (HA) in the form of non-recurrent revenue support. This was given as part of an agreed performance improvement plan. No in-year brokerage has been received by the trust in the last three years. The trust has also received cash support from West Surrey HA to support its historical debt but this does not effect its break even position.

The trust is aware of its statutory duties to achieve a financial balance over a three year period and has made plans to ensure that this is achieved by the combination of land sales and the introduction of a savings action plan with North Surrey primary care trust.

Prescription Charges

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to ensure students are informed about their eligibility to pay medical prescription charges when they arrive at university. [55329]

Ms Blears [holding answer 10 May 2002]: Posters are made available for display at general practitioner surgeries, pharmacies and hospital out-patients departments, drawing attention to the availability of free national health service prescriptions. Leaflet HC11—'Help with health costs'—provides more details and is available from main post offices, benefit offices and NHS hospitals. Some universities make this leaflet and other relevant literature, for example claim form HC1—'Help with health costs', available to students through student unions and campus medical sites.

In addition, the notes on the reverse of the prescription form advise patients to obtain leaflet HC11 if they need information about exemption from prescription charges or refunds.

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Health and Social Care Act

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he intends to implement Part IV of the Health and Social Care Act 2001; and if he will make a statement. [54579]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 13 May 2002]: Sections 50–55 and 59 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 have already been commenced. Sections 49 and 56–58 have been partially commenced. It is intended that they will be fully implemented by April 2003.

Chelmsford Primary Care Trust

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the prescribing budget is for the Chelmsford PCT in 2002–03. [55735]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 14 May 2002]: I am advised that Chelmsford Primary Care Trust has allocated from their 2002–03 unified budget £13.452 million towards the anticipated cost of prescribing for their general practitioners.

Pesticide Residues

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to publish the results of the monitoring programme for pesticide residues in fruit supplied to the National School Fruit Scheme. [57435]

Yvette Cooper: The first set of results has been published today on the website of the Pesticide Residues Committee and a copy has been placed in the Library. I have been advised by the Food Standards Agency and the Pesticides Safety Directorate that none of the residues found would give rise to concern for consumer health generally, and specifically for children's health. Further results will be published at regular intervals.

Military Hospitals

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many military hospitals have been used in the past two years to supplement the national health service. [53935]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 7 May 2002]: I have been asked to reply

Within the last two years, the Royal Hospital Haslar has treated NHS patients as part of arrangements with the NHS which enable Defence Medical Services personnel access to a wide mix of cases necessary to develop and maintain their clinical skills for their operational role. A small number of NHS patients have been treated at the Duchess of Kent's Psychiatric Hospital, Catterick.

Asbestos-related Illness

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the levels of compensation received by (a) mesothelioma sufferers and (b) those suffering from the effects of asbestos. [42632]

Mr. Wills: I have been asked to reply.

The levels of compensation awarded by the courts in relation to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are a matter for the discretion of the court in the

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individual circumstances of the case. The Judicial Studies Board produces guidelines for the assessment of personal injury damages, based on existing case law. The most recent edition of the guidelines, published in 2000, indicates that at that time awards in respect of mesothelioma or asbestosis causing severe impairment both of function and of quality of life usually fell within the range of £40,000 to £50,000.

European Hospitals

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list those European hospitals which have received official visits from his Department since 1 January 2001. [42313]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 11 March 2002]: The list shows hospitals that received visits from a Minister or officials since January 2001 according to data held by the Department.

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