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17 Dec 2002 : Column 794W—continued

Quat

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research he has undertaken to examine the effect on health of using Quat. [82237]

Ms Blears: No research is currently being funded by the Government to examine the effect on health of using Quat. The advisory council on the misuse of drugs' research committee is now actively looking into commissioning research to gain an increased understanding of the risks associated with chewing Quat.

Radiographers

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many vacancies there are for radiographers in acute hospitals; broken down by NHS trust. [85788]

Mr. Hutton: The number of vacancies lasting three months and over are collected by national health service trusts and have been placed in the Library.

Recruitment

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 2 December, Official Report,

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column 608W, on recruitment, if he has written to NHS organisations with a list of unsuitable nursing agencies who persistently recruit nurses from developing countries, contrary to the code of practice; and what action he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take, against those NHS employers who have used nursing agencies who have breached the code of practice. [86806]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 10 December 2002]: The Department investigates any agency whose behaviour appears to be inconsistent with the code of practice. The agency will be investigated and given the opportunity to respond to the allegations and reconsider their practice.

National health service organisations are strongly advised to refer to the list, which is available at www.doh.gov.uk/international-recruitment, when establishing new contracts.

Road Traffic Casualties

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) why the maximum charges for the treatment of road traffic casualties by the NHS are to increase from 1 April 2003; [87553]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 16 December 2002]: Regulations to increase the tariff and cap for the recovery of national health service (NHS) costs following road traffic accidents were laid before Parliament on 11 December 2002. The regulations increase the tariff to take account of hospital and community health services (HCHS) inflation since 1997, which is the year the tariff was set. The regulations also increase the cap, as operational experience has shown

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that this was set too low when the scheme was introduced in April 1999. The increased cap would still relieve insurers of the full cost of treating those seriously injured in road traffic accidents.

The Department undertook a consultation on the proposed increases, which ran for three months between July and September 2002. Departmental officials discussed the consultation and the proposed increases with members of the insurance industry and their trade bodies.

The increased charges would increase income to NHS hospitals by around #56 million per year. However, as NHS costs are not repaid until the accident victim's compensation claim settles, which takes on average 18 months, NHS hospitals would not feel the full effect of the increases until the latter part of 2004. If this cost was spread evenly among all holders of compulsory motor vehicle insurance, then the cost of the average policy could be expected to rise by around 0.7 per cent., or around #3 per policy.

The consultation on increasing the level of charges and summary of outcome can be found on the Department of Health's website at www.doh.gov.uk/consultations

Smoking

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the population smoke cigarettes in each region in England. [86396]

Ms Blears: Information on smoking prevalence for adults aged 16 and over is shown in the table.

Prevalence of smoking, for adults aged 16 and over, by Government Office Region England, 2000

Government Office RegionPercentage
North East27
North West30
Yorkshire and Humberside28
East Midlands25
West Midlands26
Eastern25
London27
South East25
South West27
England27

Note: For 2000, ONS have weighted the data to compensate for under-representation of people in some groups (for example, young men).

Source: Analysis of the ONS General Household Survey, published as 'Living in Britain—Results from the 2000 General Household Survey'.