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Medical Negligence

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what policy conclusions he has drawn from the lecture on medical negligence presented by Lord Justice Sir Philip Otton at the Royal Society of Medicine on 20 June, with particular reference to problems facing junior doctors. [46787]

Mr. Milburn: Lord Justice Otton's speech makes a number of wide-ranging suggestions. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently invited interested parties from both the National Health Service and legal spheres to submit ideas on how to reduce clinical negligence litigation, and how to manage better that which

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will inevitably occur. Lord Justice Otton's proposals will form part of that debate, but it is too early yet to draw any firm conclusions.

Residential Child Care Initiative

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the proportion of staff who have qualified under the Residential Child Care Initiative and continue to work in local authority residential child care (a) nationally and (b) by local authority. [47001]

Mr. Boateng: The information requested is not available centrally. However, an evaluation of the residential child care initiative (RCCI) undertaken for the Department by the Tavistock Institute showed that 455 local authority staff were seconded under the initiative and 35 bursaries were awarded for staff in the voluntary sector. The research concluded


The proportion of RCCI secondees who had not returned to the residential child care sector was found to be relatively small (13.5 per cent.).

Young People in Care

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on progress towards the establishment of a national organisation for young people in care. [46998]

Mr. Boateng: We are pleased to be able to report that we have agreed funding for an initial three year period to assist in the creation and establishment of a national organisation for young people in care and care leavers. The grant to the new organisation will be channelled through First Key--The National Leaving Care Advisory Service.

Residential Social Workers (Training)

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the recipients of the training support grants allocated for the training of residential social workers undertaking NVQ level 3 completed the course in each of the last two years; what was the average time taken to complete the course; and what steps are being taken to ensure that NVQ assessors are available. [46999]

Mr. Boateng: The sub-programme of the training support programme to train residential social care staff to National Vocational Qualification level 3 began in 1998-99. It is the responsibility of the assessment centres approved by awarding bodies for National Vocational Qualifications and employers to ensure the availability of assessors for the National Vocational Qualifications in care.

Health Services (Worcestershire)

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 18 June 1998, Official Report, columns 309-10, concerning health services in

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Worcestershire, if he will make it his policy to set a target date for deciding on service reconfiguration in the county; and if he will make a statement. [47253]

Mr. Milburn: No.

Anti-acne Drugs

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what reports he has received of adverse reactions following the use of the anti-acne drug Roaccutane/ Accutane; and if he will make a statement. [42061]

Ms Jowell [pursuant to her reply, 18 May 1998, c. 267]: I regret the number of prescriptions quoted in my previous reply was incorrect. This information was derived from data held by the Prescription Pricing Authority which cover only prescriptions written by general practitioners. There is no national scheme for gathering drug usage in hospitals; hence the estimate for the use of Roaccutane has been derived from sales figures. The majority of prescriptions for Roaccutane are written in hospitals; therefore the previous estimate of 11,000 prescriptions underestimates the true usage.

Information from the manufacturer provides an estimate of 136,563 prescriptions for Roaccutane covering the period 1993 to 1997 in the United Kingdom. These prescriptions cover both general practice and hospital usage. During this period, the Medicines Control Agency/Committee on Safety of Medicines have received a total of 280 reports covering 467 suspected adverse reactions reported in association with Roaccutane therapy. These reports cover a range of effects; the most frequently reported include skin and subcutaneous tissue reactions, musculoskeletal disorders and gastrointestinal disorders.

Roaccutane (oral isotretinoin) is available only on prescription for the treatment of severe acne which has failed to respond to antibiotics. It is recommended for use

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under the supervision of a consultant dermatologist. The product information for doctors and patients includes information on its adverse effects.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Average Earnings

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to her answer of 8 April 1998, Official Report, column 377, what rates of real increase in average earnings for the years to September (i) 1998 and (ii) 1999 were derived from the data and evidence available at the time of the Pre-Budget report; and what would be the corresponding rates of real increase based on the data and evidence now available. [44820]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 9 June 1998]: At the time of the Pre-Budget Report the latest figures for average earnings showed growth of 4.3 per cent, and RPI excluding mortgage interest payments was forecast to be 3 per cent. in 1998 and 2.5 per cent. in 1999.

The latest figures now show average earnings growth running at 5.2 per cent. At Budget time the forecast for RPI excluding mortgage interest payments in 1998 was revised down to 2.75 per cent. and the forecast for 1999 was unchanged at 2.5 per cent.

Incapacity Benefit

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many recipients of incapacity benefit (a) nationally and (b) in Leaside District have had their case reviewed; how many of those have had their benefit stopped; how many have appealed; and how many of those appeals have been upheld in each of the last three years. [45095]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 9 June 1998]: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is set out in the table.

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1995-961996-971997-98
Great Britain
Total number of decisions following application of the all work test (AWT)(16)914,6561,270,2841,237,982
Number disallowed following application of the AWT(17)105,027208,981222,290
Number of appeals received against a decision on the AWT40,66591,550n/a
Number of decisions in appellant's favour4,12231,036n/a
Leaside District(18)
Total decisions following application of the AWT(16)5,4946,0916,946
Number disallowed following application of the AWT(17)4381,3801,192

(16) Includes some Severe Disablement Allowance cases and a few decisions following application of the Own Occupation Test of incapacity

(17) Includes disallowances following failure to return the all work test questionnaire or failure to attend medical examination without good cause

(18) Leaside District includes the Benefits Agency local offices of Edmonton, Wood Green and Tottenham

Sources:

100 per cent. count of the Incapacity Benefit Computer System, Benefits Agency and Independent Tribunal Service


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Council Tax Relief

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what factors and costings are taken into account in establishing the personal allowance for council tax relief for (a) single people and (b) couples. [47000]

Mr. Keith Bradley: The single person's and couple's rates of the personal allowance used in the calculation of Council Tax Benefit are intended to represent the cost

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of day to day living. The rates are uprated by Parliament annually. Additional allowances or premiums can be included in the calculation for those single people and couples identified as having extra needs, for example those who are long-term sick, elderly or with children.

Benefits Agency

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what guidance she has issued to the Benefits

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Agency on access to benefits for people with learning disabilities who are in the care of a health trust but who have been discharged from hospital beds. [47286]

Mr. Denham: There has been no special guidance issued to the Benefits Agency (BA) about access to benefits for people with learning difficulties who have been discharged from hospital beds but who remain under the care of an NHS Trust.

The BA is currently overhauling its leaflet programme in line with Active Modern Service. It is aimed to make the material simpler and much more customer focused, giving a better entry point into the Social Security system. The first set of products is due to be launched around October 1998.

There is a core series of leaflets which provide general information on disability benefits (FB2--Which benefit?, FB4--Young Peoples Guide to Social Security, and FB28--Sick or Disabled). Specific benefit leaflets to which these general leaflets refer, together with others on specific topics like being in hospital are also available (IS1 & IS20--Income Support, IB202--Incapacity Benefit, NI252--Severe Disablement Allowance, DS702--Attendance Allowance, DS704--Disability Living Allowance, NI6--Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and NI9--Going into hospital).

The Benefit Inquiry Line gives general disability benefit advice over the telephone while the Agency's network of local offices advises about any benefit or pension.

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