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Distinction Awards Scheme

22. Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government are taking to eliminate racism in consultants' merit awards. [34390]

Mr. Milburn: Action being taken this year includes better data, better monitoring of outcomes, and better representation of ethnic minority consultants on awards committees. I will be meeting the Chairman and Medical Director of the Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards shortly to discuss what more might be done.

Mental Health

24. Dr. Brand: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government have to support day centres provided by the voluntary sector for mentally ill patients. [34392]

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Mr. Boateng: We support the provision of day centres and have provided the Mental Illness Specific Grant which enables local authorities to fund a wide range of social services for mentally ill people. Many day centres are provided in partnership with the voluntary sector.

27. Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government are taking to improve the mental health of young people. [34395]

Mr. Boateng: The key to improving the mental health of young people is preventing problems from developing in the first place. Good mental health is one of the targets in our public health green paper "Our Healthier Nation". We intend to ensure the development of parenting skills and parent support, foster high quality pre-school education and, within our "healthy schools" initiative, seek to promote emotional and physical well being among young people.

Berkshire Health Authority

25. Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in which financial year he estimates Berkshire health authority will reach its proposed funding target under the weighted capitation formula. [34393]

Mr. Milburn: We aim to make progress each year. The pace of change depends on the overall level of resources for the National Health Service and the circumstances of all health authorities.

Ethnic Minorities

26. Mr. Pollard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government are taking to improve the health of people from ethnic minority backgrounds. [34394]

Ms Jowell: The Department is seeking to ensure that the needs of black and minority ethnic groups are fully integrated into the mainstream of service provision. This is an important part of the Government's programme to tackle inequalities and covers public health and health services, employment and social care issues. Ministers have asked for targets to be set and achieved within given time frames to embed ethnic minority health in the policy and service delivery areas.

Local Health Service Planning

28. Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Government's strategy for involving the public in planning local health services. [34396]

Mr. Milburn: Rebuilding confidence in the National Health Service as a public service that is accountable, open and shaped by public views is one of our essential tasks. "The New NHS" White Paper sets clear requirements for public accountability and involvement to be met locally in a variety of ways as implementation of the White Paper proceeds.

Prescription Fraud

29. Miss Melanie Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government are taking to reduce prescription fraud. [34397]

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Mr. Milburn: On 7 January, we announced a comprehensive programme of action, which includes plans to create a specific criminal offence of prescription charge evasion, improvements to prescription form security, the establishment of a hotline and internet websites for reporting suspected fraud, and the forthcoming appointment of a Fraud Supremo to spearhead this initiative.

Waiting Lists

30. Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to reduce hospital waiting lists. [34398]

Mr. Milburn: I refer the hon. Member to the oral answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave earlier today.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money will be given to the North Essex Health Authority in 1998-99 to reduce hospital waiting lists. [35932]

Mr. Milburn: On 18 March 1998, Official Report, columns 1290-304, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that £417 million of the extra £500 million for the National Health Service announced in the Budget will be for the NHS in England. Of this amount, £320 million will be targeted specifically at cutting waiting lists in England. Health authorities will be notified about their allocations shortly.

Private Finance Initiative

31. Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much new investment in health has been secured since 1 May 1997 through the private finance initiative. [34399]

37. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much new investment has been secured since 1 May 1997 through the private finance initiative in health. [34406]

Mr. Milburn: £360 million of new capital investment has been secured through the private finance initiative since the 1 May 1997--£340 million as a result of 4 major schemes achieving financial close at the following National Health Service trusts: Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust; Norfolk and Norwich Health Care NHS Trust; Carlisle Hospitals NHS Trust and South Buckinghamshire NHS Trust; and approximately £20 million through small schemes reaching financial close.

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimates he has made of the long-term costs of private finance compared with Government borrowing on hospital expansion programmes. [34387]

Mr. Milburn: To be approved, a Private Finance Initiative contract must offer better or comparable value for money to the publicly funded alternative.

Cosmetic Surgery

32. Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on the regulation of private cosmetic surgery. [34401]

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Mr. Boateng: Since the beginning of the year, we have received seven letters and hon. Members have asked six Parliamentary Questions relating to the regulation of private cosmetic surgery.

Health Service Reforms (NHS)

33. Mr. Olner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government are taking to involve frontline NHS staff in health service reforms. [34402]

Mr. Milburn: The National Health Service White Paper The New NHS: Modern, Dependable (Cmd 3807), published on 9 December 1997, makes clear our commitment to work closely with all those involved in implementing the changes needed to ensure a health service fit for the next century: NHS staff, users and carers, and partner organisations.

Further emphasis is given to this commitment by the establishment of a taskforce to explore new approaches to staff involvement and identify how frontline health service staff can work with local managers to shape new patterns of healthcare. The 13-strong panel which includes a porter, nurses, doctors, managers, a national union officer and representatives from outside industry will report to Ministers in the autumn.

National Institute for Clinical Excellence

34. Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for the role of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the NHS. [34403]

Ms Jowell: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence will give a new coherence and prominence to information about clinical and cost-effectiveness. It will develop and disseminate clinical guidelines based on relevant evidence of clinical and cost-effectiveness so as to inform decision making and support evidence-based practice in the National Health Service. We will be consulting on the Institute's role and responsibilities over the coming months.

Haemophiliacs

35. Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he last met representatives of haemophilia sufferers to discuss their concerns. [34404]

Mr. Boateng: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health met the Haemophilia Society on 10 September last year.

Health Authority Boards

38. Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the number of appointments to health authority boards which remain outstanding for the most recent period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [34407]

Mr. Milburn: As at 12 March 1998, there were vacancies for 1 chairman and 38 non-executive members on health authority boards. We will shortly be considering recommendations from National Health Service regional chairmen for filling these vacancies and the 302 vacancies which will fall due on 1 July 1998 when the terms of office of the present incumbents come to an end.

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