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Health Protection Agency

Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) budget, (b) staffing levels and (c) aims have been set for the Health Protection Agency; and what percentage of the Health Protection Agency's budget will be dedicated to bio-defence.[109319]

The details of the budget distribution between the various activities of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) are currently being considered by the HPA Board and it is not possible to say what percentage will be dedicated to bio-defence.The fine details of the budget allocation from the Department of Health are still being finalised but we expect it to be in the region of £112 million. Added to this will be contracts—from both the private and public sectors—to the value of around £70 million.The HPA has a staffing establishment of 2,516.The functions of the HPA as set out in the Directions from the Secretary of State are:

  • (a) to advise the Secretary of State, National Health Service bodies and such other persons or bodies as the HPA sees fit on matters relating to health protection and health emergency planning;
  • (b) to conduct surveillance, and develop and improve existing systems of surveillance, of infectious disease and chemical and radiation hazards;
  • (c) to co-ordinate data from systems of surveillance relevant to the protection of public health;
  • (d) to support primary care trusts in the discharge of their functions of:
  • (i) providing a health protection service (including investigation and management of outbreaks of infectious disease and chemical and radiation hazards and incidents);
  • (ii) carrying out health emergency planning; and
  • (iii) providing clinical care for patients who have, or may have, taken toxic substances;
  • (e) to provide the following services:
  • (i) specialist public health and reference microbiology services including food, water and environmental microbiology for local authorities;
  • (ii) designating yellow fever vaccination centres for the purpose of complying with the World Health Organisation's International Health Regulations; and
  • (iii) advising and supporting the Department of Health's regional directors of public health in their task of ensuring that effective health protection and health emergency planning systems are maintained and developed in their regions; and
  • (f) to provide such clinical microbiology services as the Secretary of State requests.
  • Its aims and targets in fulfilling these functions will be detailed in its business and corporate plans, which are currently being finalised.