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Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the evidence-based guidelines, published on 13 March, by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, on the care of women seeking abortion will be implemented. 
Yvette Cooper: This new guideline will be circulated to college members. We expect the guideline to be used as the basis of local protocols which are designed to promote the development of high quality services and take account of local needs and service provision. In addition, the guideline will be considered as part of the national sexual health strategy currently being developed.
Mr. Hutton: During 1998-99, 387,777 fillings and 81,891 crowns or approximately 2 per cent. of treatments for fillings and crowns in England and Wales were replaced under paragraph 7 of the Terms of Service for Dentists (Schedule 1 of the National Health Service (General Dental Services ) Regulation 1992).
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Mr. Hutton: Time spent on advising patients on how to improve dental hygiene and maintain oral health is remunerated in a number of ways through the fee scales laid down in Determination I of the Statement of Dental Remuneration. Dentists are paid as follows:
Legal services are supplied to the Department by the Department of Social Security through a Service Level Agreement. The number of lawyers employed by the Department of Social Security are set out in the answer of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security on 10 April 2000, Official Report, column 25W.
Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish on a regular basis information about waiting times between patients seeing a consultant and receiving in-patient treatment for each specialty at each NHS hospital. 
Mr. Denham: This information is already available on a quarterly basis, as information on waiting times of patients who are waiting to be admitted to an National Health Service trust are published quarterly in Hospital Waiting List Statistics: England, copies of which are available in the Library. The latest data available relate to the quarter ended 31 December 1999.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what role the Commission for Health Improvement will play in inspecting and monitoring hospital performance in relation to (a) hygiene and the work of cleaning contractors, (b) nutritional standards for patients' food and catering contracts and (c) preventing and stopping cross-infection. 
Yvette Cooper: The Commission for Health Improvement will provide robust, independent scrutiny of National Health Service arrangements to assure the quality of health care. Its clinical expertise will be brought to bear on the areas identified. It is recognised that there
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are also important non-clinical, organisational factors to be taken into account. Therefore the Commission will work closely with other external review and inspection bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive and the Audit Commission to ensure comprehensive monitoring of NHS hospitals.
(3) if he will list the (a) spending on cancer drugs per head of population, (b) spending on cancer drugs as a percentage of total spending on cancer and (c) spending on cancer drugs as a percentage of total drugs expenditure, in (i) England, (ii) Scotland, (iii) Wales, (iv) Northern Ireland, (v) other EU countries, (vi) the USA and (vii) Japan, for each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) when he expects to receive the final report from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence on taxanes. 
Yvette Cooper: The most up-to-date guidance currently available to the National Health Service on the use of taxanes is included in "Improving Outcomes in Gynaecological Cancer". The efficiency and effectiveness of taxanes is currently being assessed by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. The process is still continuing but we expect the guidance to be issued shortly.
Detailed spending information on cancer services, including drugs, is not currently held centrally, and it is not therefore possible to compare data for England with any other country. We do know that spending on cancer in-patient care is estimated to account for 6.3 per cent. (£1.5 billion) of National Health Service hospital expenditure. This figure does not cover spending on cancer services not provided on an in-patient basis including cancer screening, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and community palliative care services.
Mr. Heppell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what studies his Department has made of the differences in the annual cost of treatment using beta interferon between the UK and other countries; and what factors are responsible for these differences. 
Mr. Denham: The Department has made no studies of the cost of treatment in different countries. As far as the prices of the beta interferon medicines are concerned, the Department has information both from the manufacturers and from contacts in the health authorities of other countries. Direct comparisons of prices of products of this type are misleading because they are often supplied direct to hospitals, making list prices less significant. Furthermore some countries include distribution costs and some aspects of care within the list price while others account for them separately.
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Subject to these qualifications, it can be said that in general the annual cost of beta interferons in the United Kingdom is slightly greater than in other European Union countries, reflecting currency movements since the products were introduced.
Mr. Denham: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence Technology Appraisal Committee consists of 24 standing members, appointed for three years which combines patient advocates, National Health Service clinicians and mangers, academic experts, and industry representation. However, the standing committee is supported by technology-specific clinical experts brought in for a particular intervention. When the committee appraises beta interferon the clinical experts will be neurologists.
(3) if he will estimate the number of MS sufferers who will potentially benefit from beta interferon in reducing (a) the progress of MS and (b) the number of MS relapses; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what plans he has to fund large-scale trials of beta interferon in the treatment of MS sufferers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Denham: We have asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to conduct an authoritative appraisal of beta interferon as part of its first appraisal programme. NICE is expected to report in the summer.
It would be premature to speculate on the number of multiple sclerosis sufferers who will potentially benefit from beta interferon when NICE has not yet come to a view on clinical and cost effectiveness.
Over the past 12 months the Department's records indicate receipt of approximately 1,000 written representations from hon. Members, patient groups and the public expressing concern about the current arrangements for prescribing and funding of beta interferon.
Guidance issued by the Department in 1995, Executive Letter (95)97, recommends that health authorities should have in place arrangements for hospital specialists to initiate treatment in the light of medical evidence and local priorities.
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