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Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many consultant electrophysiologists are employed in the NHS in each of the past five years; and how many are employed in the London region. [56541]

Mr. Hutton: Electrophysiology is not a recognised medical specialty.

Information about consultant clinical scientists working in electrophysiology is not collected centrally.

Cancelled Operations (Eastbourne)

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many operations were cancelled at Eastbourne district general hospital in each of the last 36 months. [56583]

Ms Blears: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 14 February at column 676W which provided information on cancelled operations at Eastbourne Hospitals NHS Trust in the proceeding 60 months. Since then, figures for Quarter 3 of 2001–02 have been published. The number of last minute cancellations for non-clinical reasons at the Trust, in this quarter, was 90.

20 May 2002 : Column 153W

Health Protection Agency

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects the Health Protection Agency to be operational; what funds will be available to the agency above the aggregated budgets of its component bodies; and if he will make a statement. [57682]

Yvette Cooper: We aim to establish the Health Protection Agency by 1 April 2003, by means of a Regulatory Reform Order. Decisions on budgets for 2003–04 have not yet been announced.

Parliamentary Question

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will answer the question from the hon. Member for Reading, East tabled for answer on 19 July 2001, on the use of bed strap restraints in nursing homes, ref 5538. [57640]

Jacqui Smith: I replied to my hon. Friend by letter on the 11 September 2001. A copy of this letter was placed in the Library, and I have forwarded a further copy to my hon. Friend.


Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what efforts are being made by his Department to raise awareness of epilepsy as a life threatening condition. [56497]

Jacqui Smith: The Department has already undertaken a range of initiatives to raise awareness of epilepsy. For example, we have:

We will continue to raise awareness of epilepsy and are working with the NHS Modernisation Agency to see how its programmes of work could help with this.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is developing a clinical guideline for the diagnosis, management and treatment of epilepsy to help address widespread variations in clinical practice and contribute to the improvement of services. This will be supported by an appraisal of the clinical and cost effectiveness of new anti-epileptic drugs in children and adults, to help promote appropriate uptake and equitable access.

20 May 2002 : Column 154W

People with epilepsy will also benefit from the expert patients programme, which aims to provide training in self-management skills for people with long term chronic conditions. The first pilot phase in selected primary care group and trust sites will include people with epilepsy.

These initiatives will contribute to raising awareness of epilepsy and specific trigger factors.

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to publish the action plan on Epilepsy Death recommended in the Chief Medical Officer's report 2001. [56669]

Jacqui Smith: The Department will consider the findings of the national sentinel audit of epilepsy related death, which is being published on 20 May 2002. We expect to develop and put in place an action plan to reduce the number of avoidable deaths from epilepsy within three months of publication of the audit report.

Mr. Barrie Such

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 23 October 2001, Official Report, column 151W, at the undertaking given in the Adjournment debate on 7 December 2000, Official Report, column 246, if he will make a statement on the progress of the case of Mr. Barrie Such. [57276]

Jacqui Smith: Mr. Barrie Such is currently an in-patient at Evesham Community Hospital. A discharge package for 24-hour care for Mr. Such has been agreed between local health and social services and will be put in place when Mr. Such is discharged from hospital.

The discharge plan includes provision for a family property specially adapted to be built with a separate unit to house Mr. Such and carer. Planning permission has now been approved for this property with building completion expected in about four months.


Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 985W, to the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr. Jackson), what the outcome was of the safety and quality control tests performed on vaccine stocks. [44008]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 26 March 2002]: Since 1979, vaccine batches have been tested on a rolling basis for maintenance of potency.

A three month project of vaccine testing in accordance with the original World Health Organisation recommendations for smallpox vaccine manufacture applicable at the time of production for this vaccine, commenced at the beginning of January 2002.

As the vaccine is a live, biological material, its potency would be expected to decrease over time. Expert advice in September 2001 was that the current stocks of vaccine could still be used. The result of the recent testing show all the current vaccine has a potency at least equivalent to that found in a recent American study to induce adequate clinical and immunological reaction. Further expert advice has confirmed that the findings of the American study can be applied to the United Kingdom's vaccine.

20 May 2002 : Column 155W

NHS Dentistry

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what impact the 2002 Budget allocation to the NHS will have on NHS dentistry; and if he will make a statement. [55464]

Ms Blears: As a result of the Budget, the national health service in England will receive an annual average real terms growth in resources of 7.4 per cent. for the five years from 2003–04 to 2007–08. Decisions about allocation of this increased funding will be announced later this year.

In the mean time the Government have announced that demonstration sites will be established to test the ideas developed by the options for change group. These sites will look at ways of improving access and oral health.

TB-infected Meat

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to control the entry of TB-infected meat into the human food chain. [56011]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 13 May 2002]: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that all carcases are inspected after slaughter for signs of bovine TB by Meat Hygiene Service Inspectors, in accordance with the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 (as amended). Those Regulations require the carcases of animals with evidence of generalised tuberculosis to be condemned as unfit for human consumption. Where there is evidence of localised disease the Regulations require the affected parts to be condemned.

In September 2000 the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food reviewed the measures in place to protect the food chain from risks associated with "M.bovis" and concluded that the risk, if any, from the consumption of meat following assessment and action by the NHS staff in UK abattoirs is very low. The committee made recommendations to the Agency to reduce any residual risk still further. These measures included some changes to inspection procedures in slaughterhouses, and a change to national legislation bringing it fully into line with EU requirements. Copies of the ACMSF report were placed in the Library on 1 February 2002. The Board of the Food Standards Agency has accepted the recommendations and they will be taken forward as appropriate.

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