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12 Jan 1998 : Column WA115

Written Answers

Monday, 12th January 1998.

Health Service Chairmen and Directors

Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many NHS Trust appointments, of

    (a) chairmen; and (b) non-executive directors, are due to be made either to re-appoint or to replace those whose terms of office ended on or before 31 October or 30 November; and how many appointments in each category are not yet made; and

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Jay of Paddington on 11 December (WA 59), what was the total number of:

    (a) NHS Trust chairmen; and

    (b) non-executive directors,

    to be appointed or re-appointed on 31 October or 30 November.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): One hundred and sixty five National Health Service trust chairman and 829 non-executive director appointments were to be made by 1 December. Of these 34 chairman and 192 non-executive director appointments still had to be formally confirmed on 18 December.

Risk Factors

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the risk factors relating to:

    (a) eating any cut of British beef;

    (b) eating British beef on the bone;

    (c) food poisoning;

    (d) choking on food;

    (e) being involved in a road accident;

    (f) drinking alcohol above recommended safe limits;

    (g) death or injury during childbirth;

    (h) smoking;

    (i) death or disease from sexual activity.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Risk factors can be interpreted in more than one way. First, there are the factors which predispose an individual to a risk which can include genetic makeup, gender, behaviour, environment--including social and economic factors, age and pre-existing illness. Some commentators tend to quote figures in order to compare risks. Many have become wary of making such comparisons for a number of reasons; because it is often impossible to compare like with like and because there are different perceptions

12 Jan 1998 : Column WA116

of the risk, but also because different risks affect different sections of the population and because some risks are voluntarily accepted. In some cases the extent of the risks is simply not known.

In its advice to Ministers the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) said that using pessimistic assumptions concerning the various factors involved in the transmission of BSE to humans it is estimated that the risk from the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) in food is now very small. On the basis of the risk assessment available to the committee it estimated that there is a 95 per cent. chance of no cases and a five per cent. chance of one case of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease arising as a result of this exposure in 1998.

Line listings of general foodborne outbreaks in England and Wales are published on a quarterly basis in the Public Health Laboratory Services Communicable Disease Report CDR Weekly. Information on contributory factors associated with reported general outbreaks in England and Wales for the period 1992-1994 can be found in the CDR Review. Copies of these publications are available in the Library.

There were 286 deaths in England and Wales in 1996 from choking on a foreign body, however it is not recorded how many of these were food related.

There were 3,621 deaths and over 300,000 injuries from road traffic accidents in the United Kingdom in 1995.

There is no universally acceptable figure available on the number of deaths related to drinking alcohol because of the difficulty in defining the term alcohol-related. Estimates in the academic literature range between 5,000 and 40,000 deaths per annum and reflect a wide range of methods of calculation.

The UK maternal mortality rate, as quoted by the Office of National Statistics, is 6.0 deaths per 100,000 maternities (1991-93, the latest figures available).

The risk of an individual dying in any one year from smoking 10 cigarettes per day (all smoking related diseases) has been estimated as 1 in 200.

Since reporting began in 1982 to the end of October 1997, there have been 9,114 deaths of people with AIDS reported to the Public Health Laboratory Service's Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, where infection was probably acquired from sexual intercourse. Deaths due to other non HIV/AIDS sexually transmitted infections are estimated to be about one per cent. of the AIDS deaths.

Alcohol-Related Morbidity and Mortality: Costs

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the annual cost to the NHS of alcohol abuse and misuse among the following age groups: (a) under 17 years old; (b) 17 to 25 years old; and (c) over 25 years old.

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Baroness Jay of Paddington: Estimates of the cost to the National Health Service of alcohol-related morbidity and mortality vary widely; the most recent academic estimate of which we are aware is reproduced in the table. It is not broken down by age group.

£ million
Cost to NHS
Inpatient costs--direct alcohol diagnosis40.80
Inpatient costs--other alcohol related diagnosis120.17
General practice costs3.06


Health Education Authority. Health Update: Alcohol (1997)--after Godfrey, C. and Hardman, G. (1994).

Vitamin B6 Proposed Restrictions: Ministerial Consultations

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Minister for Public Health was involved in, or consulted about, the proposed restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6 supplements; whether in the course of any such involvement she declared any family connection with pharmaceutical companies; and, if so, what was the nature of the connection.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The decision to propose restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6 supplements was taken jointly by the Minister of State for Public Health and the Minister for Food Safety following advice from the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment and the Food Advisory Committee. Paragraphs 109-129 of the Ministerial code require Ministers to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between their public duties and their private interests. The Secretary of State for Health is satisfied that there is no conflict of interest in this case.

Community Health Services: Expenditure

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the cost to the NHS of antenatal, childbirth and post-natal treatment; what proportion this is of total NHS costs; and what is the average salary of:

    (a) consultant obstetricians;

    (b) general medical practitioners; and

    (c) midwives.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Hospital and community health services expenditure on maternity services is shown in the table.

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Maternity ServicesMaternity Services as a proportion of total expenditure
£ million(%)
Latest figures available 1995-96
Northern Ireland(2)58.85.5
Latest figures available 1996-97

(1) The maternity services figure includes obstetrics (inpatients and outpatients); other hospital services; community maternity; health promotion; services to general practitioners under open access; other community health; ambulances and administration.

(2) This figure includes hospital and community maternity and child health services.

(3) This figure includes specialist and GP obstetrics services in hospital, special care baby units and community midwifery.

(4) This figure includes obstetrics, general practice and community maternity services.

It is not possible to identify the average salary of consultant obstetricians, The current salary range for hospital medical and dental consultants employed on national terms and conditions is £43,750-£56,470.

From 1 December 1997 the intended average net income for the average general practitioner is £46,450 per annum, plus approximately £3,000 a year for achieving higher levels of coverage for childhood immunisations and cervical screening. Midwives' salaries are dependent on a wide range of factors, such as grade and length of service. It is therefore not possible to provide the average salary of a midwife. However, current salary rates are published in Advance Letter NM1/97, copies of which are available in the Library.

Parental Discipline

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the Written Answer by Baroness Jay of Paddington on 11 December (WA 56), when the consultation on clarifying the law in relating to parental discipline will begin; and which Government departments will be involved.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We expect to consult in the spring next year. The Home Department, the Lord Chancellor's Department, the Department for Education and Employment, and the Scottish Welsh and Northern Ireland Offices are likely to be the main departments involved.

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