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National Care Standards

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the accuracy of the national care standards full regulatory impact assessment's annexe A paragraph 7 relating to the cost of upgrading a 24-bed unit; and if he will make a statement; [40887]

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Jacqui Smith [holding answer 7 March 2002]: A factual inaccuracy in the regulatory impact assessment has been brought to my attention. I will be making a correction to the regulatory impact assessment so that it accurately represents information provided by the Leonard Cheshire organisation.


Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Government plan to set up their own vaccine production organisation. [53894]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 2 May 2002]: There are no plans for the Government to set up their own vaccine production organisation.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration his Department gave to tests on the (a) Lister and (b) New York strains in smallpox vaccines; and what conclusion they drew, with particular reference to the superiority or otherwise in relation to other strains in vaccines. [54657]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 8 May 2002]: The choice of new vaccine was made on the basis of advice from the scientific community and from across Government. The advice of experts under the auspices of a specially convened sub-group of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation was sought specifically in relation to strain type and vaccine efficacy. Their advice was that there was no significant difference between the two strains on scientific grounds. Vaccines based on both strains were considered to have been effective in the past, and both strains are expected to produce effective new vaccines for the future.

Though vaccines based upon both strains were used as part of the World Health Organisation's eradication campaign, there was a greater body of evidence to demonstrate the efficacy of the Lister strain vaccine than for the New York City board of health (NYCBH) strain. The Lister based smallpox vaccine, preferred by the UK Government, has been challenged in the field more often by the more severe form of smallpox (variola major) than the NYCBH strain.

A dual approach, using a different strain for UK vaccine to that preferred by the US Government, as in the past, is considered to offer the best scope for successful new vaccine production, and provides a fall back mechanism if difficulties arise with the production of either vaccine.


Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many findings there have been of maladministration by ombudsmen with responsibility for agencies under the remit of his Department since 1997. [56309]

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Mr. Lammy: Information on the handling of complaints is set out in tabular form by the parliamentary ombudsman each year as an attachment to his annual report. For those complaints where there was evidence of maladministration which warranted a full investigation, the table sets out how many complaints were upheld as being fully or partially justified. Copies of the parliamentary ombudsman's annual reports for the period 1997–98 to 2000–01 inclusive can be viewed in the Library, or on the parliamentary ombudsman's website at

In addition, the pensions ombudsman has made 21 findings of maladministration with respect to the National Health Service Pensions Agency since 1997.

Disclosure of Interests

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what rules apply to the disclosure of interests on the part of those serving on public bodies which are responsible to his Department. [56459]

Mr. Lammy: Government policy on disclosure of interests by members of public bodies was set out in "Quangos—opening the doors" (1998). This policy is reflected in model codes of practice issued by the Cabinet Office for adoption by these bodies. Bodies' codes require that board members should declare in a register for the purpose any personal or business interest which may, or may be perceived to, influence their judgment, and that the register should be kept up-to-date and open to the public. The codes also state that board members should not participate in the discussion or determination of matters in which they have an interest and should normally withdraw from the meeting if their interest is direct and pecuniary.

Staff Numbers

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff were employed in the Medicines Control Agency at 1 April; and what proportion of those staff have clinical contact with NHS patients. [56855]

Mr. Lammy: The MCA have employed 517 full-time equivalent staff as at 1 April 2002 of which 12 (2.3 per cent.) have clinical contact with national health service patients.

General Practitioners

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what he estimates will be the average cost to general practitioners of opting out of 24-hour responsibility. [65575]

Mr. Hutton: This will be addressed as part of the process for pricing the new general practitioners contract which is being negotiated by the National Health Service Confederation and British Medical Association.

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if it is his policy to exempt from the recommendation that providers of out-of-hours services put in place appropriate systems for call abandonment, call recording and the recording of clinical consultations those general practitioners who wish to carry out their own out-of-hours cover. [55051]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 16 May 2002]: The Government are committed to modernising primary care out-of-hours services in line with the recommendations of the Carson report, "Raising Standards for Patients: New Partnerships in Out-of-hours Care". These improvements include quality standards which all service providers, individual general practitioners (GPs) as well as organised providers, will be required to meet. These standards do however include some easements for individual GPs on reporting requirements and telephony standards for call abandonment, which it would be inappropriate to apply to GPs who choose to provide out-of-hours services themselves until the calls are routed through NHS Direct.

EC Decisions

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the effects of Commission Decision 179 of 18 April 2000, 2002/I54/EC, OJ L54 25 February 2002, on current practice; and what reasons underlie the delay in enactment. [57898]

Mr. Hutton: The Administrative Commission on Social Security for Migrant Workers oversees the application of regulations (EEC) 1408–71 and 574–72 on co-ordination of the social security and health care schemes of the member states. Administrative Commission Decision 179 concerned technical amendments to a number of European Union forms used for the application of various aspects of the regulations as a consequence of minor changes to the regulations themselves.

The position on each of the EU forms concerned is as follows:

National Institute for Clinical Excellence

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to ensure that health care professionals are informed of the direction his Department has given to support the implementation of NICE guidance; and if he will make a statement. [59858]

Mr. Hutton: Chief executives of national health service bodies in England were told about the directions in a bulletin to them dated 14 December 2001. They were asked to cascade the information to all relevant staff.

The directions came into force on 1 January 2002, and place statutory obligations on NHS bodies to provide funding for clinical decisions within recommendations from National Institute for Clinical Excellence within three months of their appraisal guidance being issued. The text of the directions has been placed on three websites:

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