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Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average cost to her Department was of replying to a letter written (a) by an hon. Member and (b) by a member of the public in the latest period for which figures are available, broken down into (i) officials' time, (ii) cost of stationery and (iii) postage costs. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The report for 2005 was given in a written ministerial statement on 30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 76-78W.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she made of DHL/Novation's operations in the US, before awarding the company contracts to supply the NHS, with particular reference to US Justice Department investigations. 
Andy Burnham: In relation to the outsourcing of NHS Logistics and related procurement activities the Department has looked into these allegations and, having taken legal advice, is satisfied that there is no reason to reconsider Novation's position.
Subject to the final negotiations, a contract will be awarded to DHL by the end of the summer. Novation will be a subcontractor to DHL and provide the procurement expertise and support for the enterprise.
Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the possible risk to (a) domestic consumers and (b) customers of the catering industry arising from the consumption of hens eggs imported from countries with high levels of Salmonella infection in flocks; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: All Grade A table eggs from any source, if they are handled, stored and cooked properly, pose very little risk to the consumer. Eggs from overseas contribute only to a small percentage of the United Kingdom egg market.
To assess the risk associated with such eggs, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is carrying out a survey of eggs sourced from outside the UK and on retail sale in Britain. We have also been monitoring the levels of Salmonella in eggs being used in the catering trade. When these surveys are completed the FSA will have a better understanding of the risk associated with the presence of Salmonella in layer flocks. A recent European Union survey of layer flocks has highlighted countries with high levels of Salmonella infection in flocks and of th0se only Spain is a significant exporter of eggs to the UK. Therefore, we are talking to the European Commission and with member states to see what further action can be taken, in the light of the results from the layer flock survey, that will further protect consumers.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration is being given to designating private companies providing personal medical services through the alternative provider medical service arrangements as public authorities within the meaning of section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis:
No consideration has been given to designating private companies providing personal medical services through the alternative provider
medical service arrangements as public authorities within the meaning of section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act.
These awards encourage and recognise good practice across the national health service and social care service. Awards winners are supported by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement to encourage the spread of good practice.
Caroline Flint: The Department intends to review later this year, in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency, the United Kingdom regulations on infant formula and follow-on formula advertising. This is in line with the commitment set out in the Choosing Health: Making healthy choices easier White Paper.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance her Department gives to (a) primary care and (b) hospital trusts on the level of provision of maternity wards; and if she will make a statement. 
The maternity standard of the national service framework for children, young people and maternity services sets out the Government's vision for women to have easy access to supportive, high-quality maternity services, designed around their individual needs and those of their babies. It asks all national health service maternity care providers and primary care trusts to plan the provision of maternity services based on an up-to-date assessment of the needs of the local population and involving service users.
Andy Burnham: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Under- Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, responsible for employment relations, on Wednesday 21 June, Official Report, column 1882W.
Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to ensure that no organisation which has been indicted or forced to repay the US taxpayer for fraud will be permitted to have a role in the NHS. 
Andy Burnham [holding answer 29 June 2006]: In securing goods and services for the national health service, the Department is subject to all public procurement regulations when considering the letting of contracts. The rules compel the Department to advertise, negotiate and award any proposed contract in accordance with the legal procedure set out in the regulations. This will ensure that the process is open and honest and upholds the integrity of the Department.
The Government consider that decision-making on individual clinical interventions, using either complementary or more orthodox treatments, is a matter for local national health service providers and practitioners. There are therefore no centrally held records monitoring overall NHS
expenditure on complementary and alternative medicines and there are no current plans to change this.
Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what costs have been incurred through the replacement of the North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire strategic health authorities with the Yorkshire and Humber strategic health authority; and how much of this sum was accounted for by costs of (a) administration, (b) building relocation, (c) re-branding (d) training events and (e) human resources, including hiring new staff. 
Andy Burnham [holding answer 26 June 2006]: The costs of the changes that were announced on the 16 May will depend on a number of factors. New arrangements are currently being developed and discussed with trade unions and staff. Until those discussions have been concluded and the detail of new arrangements agreed it is not possible to confirm or accurately forecast costs. Overall, the changes will free up money to improve front-line services over time.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will be accountable for the breaking even of budgets in (a) University College of London Hospital and (b) the Foundation Trust sector. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: National health service foundation trusts (NHSFTs) are independent public benefit corporations. The board of directors of each NHSFT is responsible for the performance and success of their organisation. They are subject to a rigorous and transparent regulatory regime operated by Monitor, whose statutory name is the independent regulator of NHSFTs.
I am informed by the chairman of Monitor that, on 31 May of each year, NHSFTs are required to submit forward planning information to Monitor. Once it has completed its analysis of the annual plans for the 2006-07 financial year, Monitor will assign financial risk ratings that will guide the intensity of its in-year monitoring. The risk ratings, together with the 2006-07 annual plans for each of the 40 NHSFTs, are due to be published on Monitor's website in September 2006 at www.monitor-nhsft.gov.uk.
NHSFTs with poor financial risk ratings are required by Monitor to prepare and deliver effective plans for financial recovery. University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which had a deficit of £35.9 million in the 2005-06 financial year, is implementing a financial recovery plan that will return it to break-even by the 2007-08 financial year.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her oral statement of 7 June 2006, Official Report, column 258, on NHS performance, on what basis her assertion was made that the letter from my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) of 18 May called for the wiping out of deficits in NHS organisations in Oxfordshire. 
The debt crippling our health services could be wiped out if Oxfordshires NHS were funded at the national average.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of (a) children and (b) adults are (i) obese and (ii) overweight when measured by body mass index according to the Governments most recent health survey figures in (A) Bury St. Edmunds constituency, (B) Suffolk county council area, (C) the East of England and (D) England. 
The Department intends to evaluate the effectiveness of the Obesity care pathway and the weight loss guide booklets early next year. The detailed process and methodology of the evaluation are currently under consideration.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures she is taking to ensure the effective implementation of the national service framework for older people for those with sensory impairment; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: A work stream focusing on vision and hearing services for older people is included as part of the implementation programme for the Departments recently published report A new ambition for old age: Next steps in implementing the National Service Framework for Older People. This work will tie in with the Departments wider Healthy Ageing programme.
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 23 June 2006]: The table shows the number of finished consultant episodes for ophthalmic operations that took place in national health service hospitals in England in each year since 1997.
|Cataract operations||Other ophthalmic operations|
| Notes: 1. Finished consultant episode (FCE) A FCE is defined as a period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. The figures do not represent the number of patients, as a person may have more than one episode of care within the year. 2. All operations count of episodes These figures represent a count of all FCEs where the procedure was mentioned in any of the 12 (four prior to 2002-03) operation fields in a hospital episodes statistics record. A record is only included once in each count, even if an operation is mentioned in more than one operation field of the record. 3. Ungrossed data Figures have not been adjusted for shortfalls in data; that is the data is ungrossed. Source: HES, The Information Centre for health and social care.|
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