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Department of Health Expenditure: Hearing

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are continuing to promote the correct use of hearing aids through the

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booklet “How to use your hearing aid", at the following expense:


    November 1996: 100,000 copies costing £17,750


    August 1997: 45,000 copies at £10,000


    January 1998: 16,500 copies at £5,900


    March 1998: 50,000 copies at £12,090 We then changed to a larger print format which has been printed at the following expense:


    July 1998: 32,000 copies at £13,380


    January 1999: 100,000 copies at £24,875. In June 1998 my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health helped to launch the first phase of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People campaign which encourages people to seek the advice of their general practitioner as soon as they become aware of problems with their hearing.

In addition, we funded a health technology assessment review covering the accessibility, benefit and costs of early screening for hearing disability. The Medical Research Council Institute for hearing research, which will conduct this research, will look at the role of very early screening for 55 to 74 year-olds to find a cost-effective screening method for the ability to benefit from early hearing aid fitting.

European Union: Transplant Operations and Road Traffic Accident Deaths

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many corneal, renal, liver and heart transplant operations have been carried out in each of the countries of the European Union in each of the past 10 years; and what are the corresponding figures for road traffic accident deaths.[HL4009]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Information concerning the number of transplants of varying kinds in the United Kingdom is available for the period from 1991 in the annual report of the UK Transplant Support Service Authority. This information is available in the Library.

Information concerning kidney, liver, heart and heart/lung transplants for Eurotransplant (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands), France, Italy, Spain, Scandia Transplant (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden) is provided in these annual reports from 1995. Information comparing corneal transplant rates within the European Union is not available.

Information concerning road traffic accidents in the member states of the European Union is available in Road Casualties Great Britain which is produced annually. These reports are available in the Library.

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Disability Discrimination Act 1995:NHS Implications

Lord Robertson of Oakridge asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the implications of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as regards the provision of health services to disabled people, especially those with Down's Syndrome, are properly understood.[HL4022]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health has issued guidance to the National Health Service on the implications of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) for the management of health services. In 1996, a circular (EL(96)70) was issued; this set out the requirements of the DDA for the NHS. Earlier this year, a good practice guide, Doubly disabled: Equality for disabled people in the new NHS: Access to services, was issued to raise awareness of disability issues for NHS staff. HSC 1999(156) issued in July 1999 explained arrangements that NHS providers should make to implement Section 21 of the Disability Discrimination Act. The current guidance on health services for people with a learning disability--HSC(92)42--which includes Down's Syndrome, makes clear that they have the same right of access to NHS services as everyone else and that special care should be taken to ensure that they are not denied health care because of their disability. Copies of the circulars are available in the Library.

Meat Hygiene Service

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why, if other European Union member states are complying fully with the requirements for official veterinary surgeon attendance in slaughterhouses and poultry processing plants, the Meat Hygiene Service, or its contractors, are able to recruit veterinary surgeons from those member states, especially Spain, which has large red meat and poultry industries of its own.[HL3328]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Other member states produce a surplus of veterinary surgeons willing to undertake work in slaughterhouses and poultry processing plants, while the United Kingdom does not.

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a slaughterhouse owner is entitled to refuse entry to a slaughterhall to any Meat Hygiene Service official who is incorrectly dressed or is wearing protective clothing which is contaminated or insufficiently clean.[HL3097]

Baroness Hayman: Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) officials are required to abide by the standards of

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personal hygiene set out in the MHS operations manual.

Slaughterhouse owners cannot legally refuse MHS officials entry to a slaughterhall because they believe them to be inappropriately dressed. However, any slaughterhouse owner with concerns about the standards of an MHS official's dress should bring them to the attention of either the official veterinary surgeon or principal official veterinary surgeon, who will take the appropriate action.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the total costs to the Meat Hygiene Service in the last financial year, including bonuses and social security costs, in employing official veterinary surgeons while carrying out inspection duties under EC Directive 91/497/EEC in slaughterhouses and cutting plants.[HL3090]

Baroness Hayman: The total costs to the Meat Hygiene Service in the last financial year, including bonuses and social security costs, in employing official veterinary surgeons while carrying out inspection duties under EC Directive 91/497/EEC in slaughterhouses and cutting plants amounted to approximately £460,000.

Earl Alexander of Tunis asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a slaughterhouse owner or operator is required to carry out a direction from an official veterinary surgeon if compliance would lead to committing an illegal act.[HL3126]

Baroness Hayman: No.

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, owing to the difficulties experienced by the Meat Hygiene Service in recruiting official veterinary officers to service abattoirs in remote areas, it is fair that some small abattoirs should be required to pay a higher hourly rate for their official veterinary surgeons, plus travelling time, than abattoirs in more accessible locations.[HL3102]

Baroness Hayman: The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) makes extensive use of contract official veterinary surgeons (OVSs) which it obtains by means of national competitive tendering procedures. This is fully in line with government purchasing policy and ensures that the MHS obtains value for money and that the plant operator is provided with the most cost-effective service avoiding cross-subsidisation. Contract arrangements also provide greater staffing flexibility, particularly where plants have a low attendance requirement or are located in remote areas.

The hourly rate includes the full costs of travel and travelling time. This means that abattoirs in remote areas may be charged a higher hourly rate.

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The Earl of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the relevant provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990 (Section 40, codes of practice) apply to Meat Hygiene Service engaged in enforcement duties; and, if not, why not.[HL3115]

Baroness Hayman: Codes of practice under Section 40 of the Food Safety Act 1990 are issued by Ministers for the guidance of food authorities. Food authorities are local authorities as defined in Section 5(1) of the Act.

The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) is not a food authority. Until the establishment of the Food Standards Agency, it remains an executive agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. For the purposes of the enforcement of meat hygiene regulations having effect under the Food Safety Act, the MHS is an enforcement authority as defined in Section 6(1) of the Act. MHS staff enforce these regulations in accordance with instructions in the MHS operations manual. Where relevant these instructions have regard to the provisions of the Section 40 codes of practice.

The Earl of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many hours of practical tuition and practical experience in slaughterhouses under supervision official veterinary surgeons are required to have in post-mortem inspection of animals; and how much of that time is spent in carrying out the post-mortem inspection of animals.[HL3117]

Baroness Hayman: No minimum number of hours practical tuition and practical experience in slaughterhouses are set for official veterinary surgeons (OVSs) in the carrying out of post-mortem inspection of animals. However, by virtue of their extensive five-year undergraduate training in areas such as microbiology, pathology, veterinary public health and zoonotic diseases, OVSs are well qualified to be responsible for such work.


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