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29 Jan 2003 : Column 881W—continued


Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people applied from Islamabad for (a) visitor visas and (b) permanent settlement in the UK in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [93427]

Mr. Rammell: The number of settlement and non-settlement applications received in Islamabad since 1997 is given below:

April 2001 to March 200210,27165,149
April 2002 to December 20022,00537,774

(8) These figures are for the period January to March 2001. During 2000 UK visas changed to collecting annual statistics over a financial year period.


General Practioners (Training)

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many places are available for the training of GPs in England and Wales; and what percentage of trainee places have been filled. [84492]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 2 December 2002]: Information on the places available for the training of general practitioners in England are collected by the Directors of Postgraduate General Practice Education. The information is shown in the table and indicates an increase of 14.9 per cent., since 1999.

YearNumber available to provide GP training

From the latest figures it is estimated that 90 per cent. of trainee places were filled.

Information in respect of Scotland and Wales is the responsibility of the devolved administrations, whilst the institutions in Northern Ireland are dissolved, responsibility rests with Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office.

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NHS IT Projects

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list IT projects with a total contract value of more than £5 million which are being undertaken by the NHS. [86038]

Ms Blears: The Department of Health, only approves National Health Service Information Management and Technology business cases that exceed £20 million whole life cost. This category currently consists of one case, the Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust electronic patient record scheme (whole life cost £25.3 million). The remaining cases are dealt with at various intermediate levels in the NHS; previously by regional offices and now strategic health authorities. We do not maintain a central list of cases approved in the NHS.

Acute and Primary Care Trusts

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will state for each NHS acute trust and each NHS primary care trust for the latest year for which figures are available (a) the national reference cost index (Market Forces Factor adjusted), (b) the increase or decrease in funding which the trust would require if its costs were the national average and (c) the trust's surplus or deficit that year. [93081]

Mr. Hutton: The information is available in the Library in the Reference Cost Index 2002.

It is not possible to identify the potential increase or decrease that each trust would require if costs were moved to the national average at this point. Approximately 11 per cent. of services are still excluded from reference costs and national average costs do not yet exist for these services. This does not allow a full analysis and assessment of the overall impact on an individual organisation's income flows.

Information on National Health Service trusts' surplus and deficits have been placed in the Library.


Mr. Paul Marsden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list for each year since 1997, broken down by ethnicity, the percentage of children suffering from asthma. [91987]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not collected centrally. The table shows the number of hospital episodes by age where the primary diagnosis is asthma. The International Classification of Disease 10 codes J45-J46 has been used. The data is for 1997–98 to 2001–02.

Information on the number of hospital episodes where the primary diagnosis is asthma is collected by age. This is shown in the table for the years 1997–98 to 2001–2002.

29 Jan 2003 : Column 883W

Ordinary admissions and day cases combined: completed episode primary diagnosis 493 (ICD9 code) diagnosis asthma J45-J46 (ICD10)

Number of admissions within the year in NHS hospitals
0 to 421,06119,43117,49314,58015,253
5 to 1412,88511,89611,70311,14711,796
15 to 4421,27120,24518,79617,99317,084

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Rosindell : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent guidelines he has issued to general practitioners on accepting asylum seekers; and what assessment he has made of the effect on existing patients. [92843]

Ms Blears: The most recently published guidance is Health Service Circular 1999/018. This explains that refugees or persons applying for asylum in the United Kingdom are regarded as ordinarily resident. They are therefore eligible to register with a general practitioner or personal medical services pilot provider for national health service primary care services.

Primary care trusts are responsible for securing all health services for their populations. In doing this they will continually assess whether or not the current configuration of primary care services matches the need of the current population. This will include assessing the local impact of asylum seekers.


Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to prevent contamination in the event of a terrorist attack using biological agents. [88386]

Mr. Hutton: Emergency service personnel will play a central role in dealing with any possible contamination, in the event of a potential attack using biological agents. To this end all the 'blue light' emergency services have been provided with suitable personal protective equipment to protect them against the effects of contamination in the event of a bio-terrorism attack. Protocols for washing down and decontamination of emergency service and national service personnel, the public and premises have been developed with the fire service. The NHS already has in place sound working procedures to deal with biological agents, the spread of infectious diseases and to deal with contaminated equipment and premises. The advice of the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens will be sought on how to tackle any new risks from dangerous pathogens should they emerge.

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent training has been provided to NHS personnel to deal with a terrorist incident involving biological agents. [88395]

Mr. Hutton: Public health guidance was issued to regional directors of public health in October 2001. General guidance "Planning for Major Incidents: The NHS Guidance" issued by the Department is now openly available on the Department's website with links to complementary guidance on dealing with key biological

29 Jan 2003 : Column 884W

agents and investigating unusual illnesses on the Public Health Laboratory Service website az/deliberate release/menu.htm. In addition, four specialties have been targeted for immediate training in dealing with the deliberate release of a biological agent: consultants in communicable disease, infectious disease physicians, clinical microbiologists/virologists and accident and emergency (A&E) physicians. Training has started and is being developed further. The Department has consulted with the relevant royal colleges concerning the training it is doing and with the British Infection Society. Training programmes have been devised for primary care trusts and general practitioners and are due to be piloted in Eastern region in early 2003.

Specific training materials such as videos and information packs have also been prepared for occupational health physicians and other clinicians involved in implementation of the national smallpox plan which is available on the Department's website.

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice he is giving to the public on action in the event of a terrorist attack using biological agents. [88398]

Mr. Hutton: Advice about key biological agents is available to the public on the Department's website with links to complementary guidance on the Public Health Laboratory Service website az/deliberate release/menu.htm. Information leaflets concerning the deliberate release of smallpox, plague, anthrax, tularaemia and botulism have been prepared and will be made available to the public in the event of any outbreak. The Department is working across government to develop further public information. A wide range of techniques is being considered to find the most effective way to convey information to the public, such as posters and the internet, to help people maintain vigilance and prepare for the consequences of terrorist acts.

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