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Hepatitis C

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients received drug therapy on the NHS for infection with hepatitis C in each of the last five years. [56333]

Yvette Cooper: The Department does not hold information centrally on the number of patients who have received treatment for hepatitis C infection.

Care Homes

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has commissioned into the (a) short, (b) medium and (c) long-term future of (i) the residential care home sector, (ii) the nursing home sector and (iii) dual registered care homes. [56591]

Jacqui Smith: The Department has commissioned the personal social services research unit to carry out research into the future of the care home sector. Emerging findings from this work can be found on the website of the University of Kent at Canterbury ( PSSRU).

Anti-psychotic Drugs

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the oral statement by the Secretary of State for Health of 13 February 2002, Official Report, column 112WH, if he has completed consideration of research on anti-psychotic drugs in different care settings and the recommendation to ask the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to produce guidance on the use of such drugs for older people. [56631]

Jacqui Smith: Outline proposals for research to support the development of the national service framework for older people and older people's treatment and care, including research proposals on prescribing of anti-psychotic medication, were received in March 2002. Those proposals are currently being short-listed prior to a call for full research proposals being requested. These will be peer reviewed before final decisions which are expected later this year.

Consideration is still being given to the inclusion of a clinical guideline on the management of dementia, including the use of anti-psychotic medication in older people within the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's work programme.

Children's Diets

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent research his Department has carried out into potential links between ADHD in children and food supplements, food colouring and mineral deficiencies; [55046]

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Yvette Cooper: This is a matter for the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The FSA is aware of consumers' concerns about the possible effects of colours and other additives in food on some children. The FSA spends about £800,000 a year looking at the general area of food intolerance. This includes a project on food additives and child behaviour that has been submitted for publication and is currently undergoing peer review. In July 2000, the Independent Expert Committee, the committee on toxicity which advises the FSA, published its review of the scientific evidence on adverse reactions to food. It concluded that most adverse reactions are to natural foods rather than synthetic additives. It noted that there has been weak but conflicting evidence for an association between particular food additives and a specific condition known as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. The committee concluded that in general

Independent experts agree that the link between food additives and adverse effects on behaviour is not conclusive and that a lot more research is required in this area. The FSA will review new information on the subject of ADHD and any links it may have with food supplements, food colouring and mineral deficiencies.

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children were diagnosed with ADHD in each of the past 10 years. [55049]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not collected centrally. The prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder of all types is estimated at around 5 per cent. of school-aged children, approximately 345,000 six to 16-year-olds in England.

General Practitioners

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if it is his policy under the Government's new proposals for out-of-hours medical cover that general practitioners will be able to conduct their own out-of-hours cover if they so wish. [55050]

Mr. Hutton: Yes.

Temporary Staff

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost to his Department was of employing staff in (a) London and (b) the south east from employment agencies in each year since 1997. [56511]

Ms Blears: The table shows the cost of employing agency staff in the Department. The figures are for the total spend for each financial year as we are unable to extract the London and south east spend from the total.


Contract/agency staffLabour supply contract

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Mobile Phone Masts

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will next consider proposals for research projects on mobile phone masts. [57096]

Yvette Cooper: The independent expert group on mobile phones (the Stewart Group) was set up to investigate the public health implications of mobile phone technologies. Their report was published in May 2000 and included a recommendation to set up a substantial research programme. This programme, jointly funded by government and industry, was announced in December 2000 and was launched at a public meeting in February 2001. The research is being undertaken under the direction of an independent programme management committee under the chairmanship of Sir William Stewart. The selection and management of studies is solely in the hands of this committee with additional scientific advice from other experts in the relevant field.

There have been two invitations for research applications, in February and December 2001, and research is now under way in the first tranche of projects. Details of this research are given on the mobile telecommunications health research programme's (MTHR) website at Shortlisted proposals submitted to the second invitation are currently under consideration by the programme management committee.

The aim of the second call was to extend the range of research being carried out under the aegis of the MTHR programme and some of the proposals are of direct relevance to exposures to radio frequency (RF) radiation from mobile phone masts. However the emphasis of the research, both funded and submitted, has been on mobile phone handsets rather than masts because localised exposures of people using phones are in general appreciably higher than exposures to the whole body from masts. In practice many of the experimental studies on hand sets will also be valuable in providing evidence on any possible effects on people of exposures to RF radiation from masts.

Anglo-Italian Meetings

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions in the last six months (a) he and (b) his officials have met their Italian counterparts; and what subjects were discussed. [56893]

Ms Blears: There have been no such meetings with Ministers or any record of meetings with officials.

Shellfish Hygiene

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to meet the European Commission's Health and Consumer Protection Directorate when it visits the United Kingdom to discuss shellfish hygiene. [55118]

Yvette Cooper: I have no plans to meet the inspection team. Officials of the Food Standards Agency will co-ordinate the visit.

Mount Vernon Hospital

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to establish a diagnostic and treatment centre at Mount Vernon Hospital; [48896]

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Mr. Hutton: The Hillingdon Hospital Trust has recently submitted a strategic outline case for modernising the Mount Vernon site to the Directorate of Health and Social Care—London for London and the case is currently under evaluation. The development would provide a new ambulatory diagnostic and treatment centre with strong community links. In planning the diagnostic and treatment centre, the trust aims to work with Hillingdon Primary Care Trust in order to determine what additional services could be provided on the site but as yet these have not been firmly established.

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