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Social Services White Paper

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to publish the proposed White Paper for Social Services. [57395]

Mr. Hutton: The Government intend to publish their Social Services White Paper in the near future.

Ante-natal Appointments

Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list, for each health authority in England and Wales, the number of ante-natal appointments routinely offered to first-time mothers. [57468]

Mr. Hutton: Information is not collected in the form requested. Information about the number of antenatal outpatient attendances by trust has recently been published in "Outpatient and Ward Attenders England 1997-98", copies of which have been placed in the Library; trust figures for community contacts will be published shortly in "Community Maternity Services: Summary information for 1997-98, England".

Disabled Access

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he has issued to NHS trusts on providing suitable facilities for disabled patients and visitors; and if he will make a statement. [57119]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 29 October 1998]: The National Health Service Executive issued Health Service Circular (HSC1998/156) on 17 September 1998 entitled Implementing Section 21 of the Disability Discrimination Act. This circular informs the NHS about the implementation of the Act and sets out the action the NHS Executive plans to take to support implementation of Section 21 of the Act in the NHS.

Work is currently in progress to produce a good practice guide. This will cover both employment and service provision issues relating to disabled people for the whole of the NHS and will therefore cover general practitioner practices and other primary care providers.

Organisational Stress

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the percentage of NHS trusts which undertake organisational stress audits; and what plans he has to issue guidance to trusts on the introduction of such audits. [57120]

Mr. Milburn [holding answer 29 October 1998]: Information is not collected centrally on the percentage of trusts which undertake organisational stress audits. The National Health Service Executive has issued guidance to all NHS trusts and health authorities on managing organisational stress through its health at work in the NHS project and is piloting work based on this guidance at four trusts.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Mr. Woolas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to encourage the establishment of a national representative group for parents of children suffering from attention deficit disorder. [57604]

Mr. Hutton: The proposal has been discussed with the Department and we are currently considering a bid for central grant aid to help develop a national alliance of local support groups in this field. We expect to announce decisions on voluntary sector grant applications for 1999-2000 under the Section 64 general scheme around mid-February 1999.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Forth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase payments to local authorities in London which have to meet the cost of accommodating asylum seekers and their children. [57897]

Mr. Hutton: We have set out our plans to change the cumbersome immigration and asylum process we inherited from the previous Government in the White Paper "Fairer, Faster and Firmer--A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum". We are considering how to improve the support grants for local authorities in the transitional period, and will announce the terms of the grants later this year.

Primary Care Group

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will set out the reasons for his decision not to allow local authorities to nominate an elected member to the primary care groups in their administrative area. [57780]

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Mr. Milburn: Local Authority officials may serve on a Primary Care Group Board as lay representatives of that community.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if, when carrying out duties as a member of the primary care group, nominees of the Social Services Department will be required to act in the best interests of the PCG or their employer. [57778]

Mr. Milburn: Members of the Primary Care Group board will act in the best interest of the population they serve.

Care Services

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received concerning the non-back dating of local authority payments for care move placements once they have completed the assessment if the resident's assets have fallen below the capital threshold. [57784]

Mr. Hutton: There have been representations from the hon. Members for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) and, for Lewes (Mr. Baker) and from my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney) and the voluntary organisation Help the Aged concerning backdating of local authority payments for home care placements once the assessment has been completed.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list those care services and establishments that are not covered by a regulation and inspection regime (a) currently and (b) under proposals made by his Department. [57779]

Mr. Hutton: There are several gaps and anomalies in the current regulatory system for care services. In particular, residential care homes and nursing homes run by organisations established by Royal Charter or Act of Parliament, domiciliary and day care services, small children's homes, and other arrangements involving children living away from home are not covered by statutory regulation. In addition, local authority care homes, whilst required to be inspected by social services departments, are not subject to registration arrangements.

The Government are committed to reforming regulatory arrangements in this sector. Our proposals will be set out in a White Paper on Social Services which we intend to publish shortly.

Joint Procedures (NHS and Personal

Social Services)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what flexibility he will allow to social services committees which can demonstrate that there are more appropriate targets for their locality to achieve the standards and objectives set out in Joint Guidance, Quality Projects and Social Services Inspectorate reports than the targets provided in those documents. [57786]

Mr. Hutton: The Government are committed to the reform and modernisation of the public services. We have set out new objectives for children's social services as part of the "Quality Protects" initiative. The forthcoming Social Services White Paper will set out the wider agenda for social services including new objectives for adult social services. "Modernising Health and Social Care" the

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National Priorities Guidance for 1999/2000-2001/2002 sets objectives and targets in support of this new agenda. Achieving these objectives will be a first step towards the modernisation of social services and we expect all local social services authorities to play their part. Progress on the achievement of these objectives will be kept under review by the Regional Offices of the Social Services Inspectorate.

Local social services authorities will be free to develop additional targets to supplement those in the National Priorities Guidance and demonstrate their success in taking forward the new agenda.

Medical Negligence

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce legislation to put into effect the recommendations contained in Lord Justice Otton's report on medical negligence. [57717]

Mr. Milburn: None. Officials are still in the process of identifying ways in which suggestions received as the result of the Secretary of State's call for ideas on reducing litigation in the NHS can best be taken forward. Lord Justice Otton's proposals will be considered as part of this exercise.

Drugs Bill

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans has he to reduce the NHS bill for drugs (a) prescribed by general practitioners and (b) used in hospitals. [56916]

Mr. Milburn: The Government have no plans to reduce the National Health Service bill for drugs prescribed by general practitioners or hospitals. Primary Care Groups (PCGs) and health authorities (HAs) will commission and fund local health services from their unified budget allocations in line with the agreed local Health Improvement Plan, local priorities and national guidelines. HAs and their PCGs will be expected to ensure the cost-effective and efficient use of all NHS resources, including any funding for drugs.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he intends to reply to the letters dated 9 July, 13 August and 25 September about the Private Finance Initiative from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton. [58121]

Mr. Dobson: I replied to my right hon. Friend today.

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