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Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which agency is responsible for monitoring the provision and maintenance of hearing aids for (a) pre-school children, (b) children at school and (c) young people aged 16 years and above who are in full-time education ; and what plans there are to change the present arrangement.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the conditions under which children and young people are entitled to be provided with the most appropriate heearing aid whether or not this is part of the national health service range of hearing aids.
Mr. Ancram : It is for the clinician concerned to decide on the basis of assessed need which is the most appropriate hearing aid in each case, whether it is from the standard range or purchased by hearing aid centres from a commercial source.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which agency monitors the provision of insurance on hearing aids for children and young people ; and what plans there are to change the present arrangement.
Mr. Ancram : Hearing aids are provided on loan. There is, therefore, no requirement for the patient, or in the case of a child under 16, the child's parent to insure the appliance they receive. There are no plans to change the present arrangements.
Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about job creation and industrial development in Northern Ireland, with particular reference to inward investment in South Down and other areas of high unemployment.
Mr. Tim Smith : One of the Government's priority objectives is to improve employment prospects in all parts of Northern Ireland. In pursuit of this objective the IDB and LEDU are working with their client companies to encourage them to develop their international competitiveness, thus creating the conditions for growth in durable employment.
During the current year the Industrial Development Board has continued to attract an increasingly high number of new inward investment projects to Northern Ireland. IDB cannot direct promoters as to where to locate projects within Northern Ireland. However, every effort is made to encourage inward investors to establish their new businesses in the areas of highest unemployment including South Down.
Column 54receiving convalescent care, were taken into account when the funds to transfer from the social security vote to health and social services boards were being calculated. People requiring convalescent care were not identified separately.
Mr. Ancram : Health and social services boards received £1.1 million in 1991-92, £0.62 million in 1992-93 and £4.82 million in 1993-94 for the development of their infrastructure for the delivery of community care services. These allocations include money for the recruitment and training of professional and other staff required to carry out assessments and operate the care management procedures. All four boards have developed training programmes for staff responsible for the assessment and review of the care needs of clients requiring community care services.
Mr. Ancram : The Department, as part of its preparation and support for the introduction of the new community care arrangements established a joint DHSS/health and social services board "People First" liaison group to facilitate feedback and dialogue on the implementation of the new arrangements. A monitoring framework has also been established to obtain quarterly information about boards' assessment and care management performance.
Boards have also established various systems to obtain feedback on the way in which the new arrangements are working, to ascertain user satisfaction and to work with statutory and independent providers in developing the range of residential and non-residential services required.
Rev. Ian Paisley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the (a) average and (b) target length of time between the inquiry and assessment and the making of a decision to provide care in the community for an elderly person.
Mr. Ancram : The information is not available in the form requested. Health and social services boards have reported that during the six-month period from April to September 1993, 92 per cent. of assessments of elderly people were carried out within one week of referral and 83 per cent. of care packages for elderly people commenced within one week of completion of the assessment. The Department is currently reviewing community care standards in the charter for patients and clients. Standards will include local waiting times for access to various services, including access to care management and the provision of community care services.
Rev. Ian Paisley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what savings he expects to result from the closure of homes for the elderly and a reduction in home help and community care budgets.
Mr. Ancram : None. Health and social services boards are responsible for managing the financial resources at their disposal and for determining the appropriate level of resources to be committed for the purchase of particular
Column 55services. Boards are following a policy for the development of community care services which involves a shift from institutional care to domiciliary and day care. To support this policy additional resources of £29 million have been made available to boards this financial year.
Mr. Ancram : Clients and carers who are dissatisfied with any aspect of their treatment in relation to community care have recourse to the comprehensive complaints procedures which are in place in each health and social services board. Anyone who is dissatisfied with a board's written response to his or her complaint can appeal to a review panel, which includes a member who is independent of the board. Details of the procedures and arrangements for review are published by each board.
Rev. Ian Paisley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what advice has been issued to the Eastern health and social services board on the future numbers of independent homes for the elderly and the numbers of statutory homes which should be maintained.
Mr. Ancram : None. It is for the board to assess the needs of its resident population and determine the nature and level of services it wishes to provide to meet those needs within the available resources.
Rev. Ian Paisley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what joint forums have been established to permit independent homes to have an input in community care policy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ancram : None. Government policy for the provision of community care is clearly set out in the 1990 policy document "People First" and the regional strategy for the Northern Ireland health and personal social services 1992-97. A wide range of interested parties, including independent sector care providers, were consulted during the preparation of both these documents. Future policy developments will be subject to similar consultation.
Rev. Ian Paisley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what figure for the numbers of people in private and independent homes at 31 March 1993 he based his budget ; what was the actual figure for capacity on that date ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ancram : The amounts of money to transfer from the social security budget to health and social services boards for community care were calculated on the basis of the estimated numbers of income support claimants resident in independent sector residential and nursing homes at mid-year in each of the financial years 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96. The estimated numbers of such residents for each of these years were 11,112, 13,247 and 15,382 respectively. The total number of residents in independent sector homes at 31 March 1993 is not known.
Details of the transfer calculation were explained in a memorandum widely distributed throughout Northern Ireland in December 1992. A copy has been placed in the Library.
Column 56for placement of persons in homes for the elderly ; and what involvement independent sector providers had in the selection of this figure.
Mr. Ancram : There is no pre-determined figure for the numbers to be placed in homes for elderly people. The number of people placed in residential and nursing homes by health and social services boards will be determined by the outcome of comprehensive assessments of patients' and clients' need for community care. Where care in residential or nursing home settings is indicated this will be arranged.
Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the level of personal injury awards in Northern Ireland ; and what comparison he has made with costs elsewhere.
Sir John Wheeler : In Northern Ireland the statutory criminal injuries compensation scheme makes provision for compensation for the victims of violent crime. On 15 December 1993 my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary published a White Paper outlining his proposals for reform of the criminal injuries compensation scheme in Great Britain. I am currently considering what lessons might be learnt from this for Northern Ireland. If, as a result, changes are proposed to the current compensation scheme in Northern Ireland, there will be consultation with all interested parties.
Awards for personal injury at common law are a matter for the courts.
Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effects of the levels of charges for private car insurance in Northern Ireland ; and what comparisons he has made with costs elsewhere.
Mr. Tim Smith : The privatisation of Northern Ireland Electricity has been a great success. Competition has been introduced to the industry, enterprising new companies have entered the electricity market, an effective regulatory regime has been established to protect consumers' interests, and NIE employees and consumers have been able to invest in the industry.
Rev. Ian Paisley : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what contingency plans are being made for the care of the elderly in Northern Ireland in the event of insufficient accommodation for the elderly being available locally and to provide transport for their families ; and at what cost.
Column 57arrangements in the event of residential care and nursing home failures. The level of accommodation available throughout Northern Ireland is such that residents who might need to be relocated on closure of a home will have a reasonable choice of alternative accommodation.
Mr. Charles Hill QC
Mrs. Joan Harbison CBE
Mrs. Mary Clark-Glass CBE
Mrs. Jane Corr
Miss Geraldine Keegan
Professor Simon Lee
Mr. Al Mackle OBE
Mr. Dermot Nesbitt
Mr. Aidan Sherrard
Mrs. Joan Smyth
Ex-Officio Members :
Mr. Bob Cooper CBE
Mrs. Jill McIvor QSM
There is one vacancy.
Mr. Jim Aiken
Sir Charles Brett, CBE (Vice-Chairman)
Councillor Fred Cobain
Mr. Donnell Deeny, QC (Chairman)
Mr. Patrick Donnelly
Ms Rita Duffy
Dr. Tess Hurson
Ms Kate Ingram
Mr. Nicholas Livingston
Professor Edna Longley
Councillor William O'Connell
Mr. Richard Pierce
Ms Chrissie Poulter
Mrs. Irene Sandford
Professor Robert Welch.
The Hon. Hugh O'Neill, (Chairman)
Mr. Brian Adgey
Mr. Colin Anderson
Mr. Tony Hopkins
Mr. Alan Lambert
Mr. John Lavery, OBE
Mr. Ian McQuiston
Dr. Mary Peters, CBE
Ms Diane Toner.
Mr. M. Moroney
Mrs. D. Boyd
Mr. J. Corey
Mr. J. Donaghy
Mr. J. Gallagher
Mr. P. A. Kilpatrick
Rev. J. McAllister
Mrs. E. McClurg
Mr. J. N. Montgomery
Mr. T. Nolan
Dr. R. J. Rodgers
Mr. G. Topping
Mrs. M. E. Torrans