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Acute Services

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made comparing the level of provision in services at acute hospitals and the recommendations of the Royal colleges about minimum volumes of service for different kinds of acute services to maintain professional standards. [88287]

Mr. Hutton: New evidence about safety and quality of services is emerging all the time. Levels of provision in different services are reviewed from time to time in the light of new evidence, including the recommendations of Royal colleges.

Where evidence between volume and outcome is clear, appropriate action will be taken; for example, through the development of particular standards as part of a national service framework.

Alzheimer's Disease

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the availability through the NHS of drugs to combat Alzheimer's disease. [91415]

Jacqui Smith: The three main drugs available through the national health service for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease are donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Reminyl). They are available on the NHS to all who meet the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) criteria and NHS bodies are under a statutory obligation to provide funding.

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In addition, memantine (Ebixa) was launched in October 2002. While it is available for prescription on the NHS, NICE has yet to assess it for clinical and cost effectiveness, so for the moment, NHS bodies across the country have to access the publicly available evidence about this new drug and determine local policies for its use.

Ambulance Station, Stacksteads

Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on the future of the ambulance station in Stacksteads, Rossendale, Lancashire; when a decision was taken that it is surplus to NHS requirements; and who took that decision. [91860]

Jacqui Smith: According to our available records, there have been no representations on this issue. The approved estates strategy of Lancashire Ambulance Service National Health Service Trust have confirmed that the ambulance station at Stacksteads is functionally unsuitable and that options should be explored for its relocation to an alternative site in the locality. However the trust has not declared the existing site surplus to requirements.

Cancer Waiting Times

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the audit of cancer waiting times recommended in the report of the working group on cancer waiting times was undertaken; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [89648]

Ms Blears: A cancer waiting times survey was undertaken by the health services management centre at the University of Birmingham in April/May 1998.

The survey looked at cancer waiting times between general practitioner referral and first outpatient appointment and GP referral and first treatment of all cancers diagnosed in October 1997.

The findings were reported in the British Medical Journal, 320: 838–839 25 March 2000.

Child Protection

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance is given to health and social services professionals regarding the retention of unsubstantiated allegations on child protection issues. [92292]

Jacqui Smith: "Working Together to Safeguard Children" (1999), the Government's guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, includes guidance to agencies and professionals in relation to record keeping.

"Working Together to Safeguard Children" states that, in cases where child protection inquiries do not result in the substantiation of referral concerns, case notes should be retained in accordance with agency record retention policies. These policies should ensure that records are stored safely and can be retrieved promptly and efficiently.

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Children in Care

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer given to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham on 13 January 2003, Official Report, column 499W, on looked after children, how many of the 920 children who went missing from their usual place of residence are still missing; and what action has he taken to (a) reduce the numbers of runaways and (b) trace those runaways who have still not returned to local authority care. [92599]

Jacqui Smith: Of the 920 children who went missing from their usual place of residence at any time during the year 2000–01, 190 were absent from their agreed placement on 31 March 2001. Data on children missing from care during the year ending 31 March 2002 will be available at the end of March 2003.

The Department issued guidance on 28 November 2002, "Children Missing from Care and Home—a guide to good practice", alongside the Social Exclusion Unit's report, "Young Runaways", which makes recommendations on:

This guidance requires that where young people are missing from care, local authorities must demonstrate commitment to their safety and welfare and act to ensure that they are found as soon as possible:

reports about patterns of absence must be available to senior managers and to the National Care Standards Commission.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what date he expects the drug clozaril to be available across all PCTs in England and Wales for the treatment of schizophrenia. [92552]

Jacqui Smith: The technology appraisal of the use of atypical antipsychotics in schizophrenia was published by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in June 2002 and included recommendations concerning clozapine (Clozaril).

From 1 January 2002, the national health service has had three months from the date of publication of each technology appraisal guidance to provide funding, so that clinical decisions made by doctors involving NICE recommended treatments or drugs can be funded.

Cot Deaths

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his Department's strategy to prevent cot death. [92545]

Jacqui Smith: Our strategy is based on expert advice on the avoidance of factors associated with the tragedy of cot death. These are particularly related to position

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and environment during sleep. This advice is promulgated through leaflets and literature on the care of babies. It is also the subject of discussion between families and the primary health care team.

There is, however, need for further research relating to the precise sleeping environment of infants who die unexpectedly, and this is being undertaken.

Data Protection Act

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to enforce compliance by individual health trusts in supplying information required under the Data Protection Act 1998. [92186]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 January 2003]: The responsibility for compliance with the Data Protection Act rests with individual national health service trusts. Enforcement is undertaken by the Information Commissioner.

The Department supports the NHS in meeting data protection requirements through the provision of guidance and through performance management arrangements.

Hospitals (Management)

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) the Secta Group Ltd., (b) Quo Health and (c) Sema Health have managed a hospital before. [89542]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 13 January 2003]: The independent panel set up by the National Health Service Appointments Commission assessed the general ability of each private sector organisation to run a hospital trust.

The expertise and experience of every organisation which tenders for a national health service franchise and individuals leading any bid on behalf of that organisation will be thoroughly and rigorously assessed before any contract is awarded.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what basis the Miller Group was selected as the preferred bidder for the property and trading arm at NHS Estates, Inventures. [92540]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 January]: A consortium of Miller Ventures and Bank of Scotland was selected as preferred bidder for the property and trading arm at NHS Estates because, following a comprehensive bid evaluation process, its bid was considered to offer best value.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what terms were offered by Miller Group and the William Pears Group in bidding for Inventures; and what assessment was made of the value of proposed clauses relating to claw-back profits on future land sales. [92541]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 January]: Both bidders offered a fixed price for Inventures, payable on completion. In relation to the property estate both bidders offered to make a substantial initial payment

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followed by"overage" or claw-back payments when the sites in the property portfolio obtain planning consent, or are sold.

Overage payments were ascribed an estimated present value (on the same basis for each bid) by reference to risk factors including likelihood of obtaining planning permission, estimated value of the sites with or without planning permission, time at which overage payment is likely to be triggered, percentage overage offered and other relevant factors.

In addition, both bidders also offered to explore ways of introducing a new element of claw back payment by entering into joint venture arrangements with house builders, the effect of which would be to include some development profit in the sums to be clawed back. Whilst this willingness to seek ways to include further sums into claw-back arrangements was assessed as being preferable to a refusal to contemplate such schemes, the degree of uncertainty surrounding this element of the proposals was such that bid evaluation was concentrated upon the standard contractual claw-back arrangements.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the chief executive of Inventures and other senior staff were told about incentive arrangements likely to be offered in the event of a successful bid from one or other of the final round bidders for Inventures. [92542]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 January 2003]: The management and staff of Inventures, which is being sold as part of the National Health Service Estates public-private partnership project, were not made aware of the contents of any bid in relation to incentives offered by the bidders.

NHS Estates rules for bidders involved in the project also prohibits un-chaperoned meetings between the management team and bidders and, to the best of our knowledge and belief, no such meetings have taken place.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has launched an internal investigation into the bidding process for Inventures; and what discussions he has held with the National Audit Office over the bidding process for Inventures. [92543]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 January]: During the evaluation period, a review was undertaken in real time by an independent firm of consultants who concluded the process was satisfactory.

A subsequent review by the private finance unit of the Department of health concluded that the bid evaluation process was properly conducted and the preferred bidder selection was correct.

Following a complaint by an unsuccessful bidder, the National Audit Office is also reviewing the process, but this review has not yet been completed and so its conclusions are notavailable at the current time.

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