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Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps the Government have taken to recruit nurses to the NHS since 1 May 1997; [65537]

Mr. Hutton: The Government are implementing a range of measures to improve recruitment and retention of all staff, including nurses. These include an increase in pay, encouraging the national health service to become a better employer through the "Improving Working Lives and Positively Diverse" programmes, increasing training commissions, reducing student attrition, running national and local recruitment and return to practice campaigns, and

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supporting international recruitment where appropriate. Further information on improving working lives is available at

Since 1997, the nursing work force has grown by 31,520. Between September 1999 and September 2001 there was a net increase in nurses working in the NHS of 20,740—the NHS Plan target has been reached two years early. Pay will have increased across the board for nurses and midwives by at least 26 per cent. since 1997 in cash terms.

Northwick Park Hospital

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects work to begin on modernising Northwick Park Hospital's maternity service. [66111]

Mr. Hutton: The full business case for the modernisation of maternity services at Northwick Park hospital was approved in April 2002. Work is expected to begin in March 2003.

Harrow Primary Care Trust Board

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list the members of the Harrow Primary Care Trust Board and indicate which of them are resident in the Harrow, West constituency; [66112]

Mr. Hutton: Current membership of the three national health service boards, together with details of those living in Harrow, West constituency is as follows:

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NHS Pensions

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money was spent by the relevant pension fund on paying pensions to retired (a) NHS staff and (b) GPs in 2001–02; if he will estimate the corresponding amounts to be spent in (i) five years' time, (ii) 10 years' time, (iii) 20 years' time and (iv) 30 years' time; if he will estimate in each case the proportion of such liabilities which will arise from (A) unfunded pension schemes and (B) pre-funded pension schemes; and in the case of pre-funded schemes, if he will estimate the value of the corresponding pre-funded funds in each of these years. [66564]

Mr. Hutton: The national health service pension scheme for England and Wales does not keep a separate record of the pensions paid to retired NHS staff and general practitioners. However, the total amount paid for 2001–02 by the NHS pension scheme in respect of pensions to retired members and their dependents was £2.8 billion.

Using assumptions consistent with the periodic valuations of the NHS pension scheme the Government Actuary's Department has estimated the corresponding total amounts of pension expenditure in future years as follows (in constant earnings terms):

The NHS pension scheme is an unfunded scheme with members and employers paying contributions, as determined by the Government Actuary, to defray the cost of benefit provision. Because there is no pre-funding of the scheme's liabilities, these contributions have not been included as an offset to the above figures, although in practice they will be an offset to the cost.

Cancelled Operations

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether statistics relating to cancelled operations include those cancelled at cottage and community hospitals. [65167]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 2 July 2002]: Data are collected on the number of operations cancelled by English national health service trusts for non-clinical reasons on, or after the day the patient was due to be admitted. This definition covers all elective operations carried out as in-patient or day cases. Elective operations carried out in a cottage or community hospital are therefore included, but not separately identified by unit.

Mumps Vaccines

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what grounds the MCA in May ordered the

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destruction of mumps vaccines made in Switzerland that had been bought by Direct Health 2000 in the UK; and if mumps vaccines in the same batch were delivered to pharmacies in the UK. [66258]

Ms Blears [holding answer 2 July 2002]: The Medicines Control Agency has no record of ordering the destruction in May 2002, of mumps vaccine made in Switzerland and bought by Direct Health 2000 in the UK. Consequently the MCA is not in a position to comment on supplies of any of the alleged batch of mumps vaccine made in Switzerland being delivered to pharmacies in the UK.

Overseas Treatment

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment has been made of the scheme to send patients overseas for treatment; and if he will make a statement. [66819]

Mr. Hutton: Following a competitive tender exercise, the York University Health Economics Consortium were commissioned to evaluate the scheme to refer national health service patients overseas. That evaluation is almost complete. Copies of the final report will be placed in the Library, and published on the Department's website.

Information Technology

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to increase the use of information technology across primary care; and if he will make a statement. [66813]

Mr. Hutton: The new national health service information technology programme was outlined in the document, "Delivering 21st Century IT Support for the NHS: National Strategic Programme", published by the Department in June 2002.

This outlines a major programme of investment in information technology, including the primary care sector. The NHS will build on the successful implementation of projects such as the Project Connect programme, which connected 98 per cent. of general practices to NHSnet, giving general practice staff full access to email and web resources, including the clinical evidence base; the electronic transfer of prescription pilots; and decision support developments such as PRODIGY.

Hospice Authorities

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he intends (a) blood products, (b) oxygen and (c) clinical waste to be financed by the NHS in connection with voluntary hospice authorities. [66365]

Ms Blears [holding answer 4 July 2002]: The Chief Executive Bulletin (10–16 May) issue 117 reminded them that hospices should be reimbursed the full agreed pharmacy costs for medicines. This arrangement includes blood products that are licensed medicines and oxygen, in so much as it is permissible to prescribe it on the national health service.

In the case of clinical waste, the responsibility for the disposal of clinical waste cannot be passed over to another party. Under the requirements of the Environmental

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Protection Act 1990, waste producers have a legal duty of care to properly dispose of their waste. In this case the hospice concerned would be the waste producer.

Hepatitis C

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 21 May 2002, Official Report, column 309W, what funding is available in 2002–03 for the strategy for hepatitis C. [66847]

Ms Blears [holding answer 4 July 2002]: Advice from the multi-disciplinary steering group, set up to assist the Department in developing a strategic approach to hepatitis C, is currently under consideration as are related funding issues.

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