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Airlines (Emergency Medical Equipment)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what advice he plans to offer commercial airlines in respect of the equipment they routinely carry against the possibility of medical emergencies; [94893]

Ms Stuart: Following informal discussions with the Department, the Medical Directors of the Association of European Airlines are reviewing current provision of emergency equipment and training on aircraft with the European Resuscitation Council. This will take account of what the Civil Aviation Authority already set out, the updated requirements of the EC harmonised Joint Airline Regulations covering commercial airlines, recommendations from the Aerospace Medical Association and ongoing international work. We will consider the expert advice when it is ready and discuss what action may be needed with Ministerial colleagues in other government departments and with the industry.

26 Oct 1999 : Column: 852

Surgical Operating Departments

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he has taken to establish a scheme of statutory registration for surgical operating department practitioners. [95234]

Mr. Hutton: Under powers provided by the Health Act 1999, we are reviewing the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960. As part of that review, consideration is being given to the regulation of health professions which are not currently state registered, including operating department practitioners. The aim will be to provide for an NHS which is modern, reliable and fully responsive to patient needs. There will be full consultation before a final decision is taken.

Community Prescribing

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects the second part of the Crown review on community prescribing to be published. [95245]

Yvette Cooper: The final report of the Review of Prescribing, Supply and Administration of Medicines was published for consultation and comment on 8 March. We are currently giving detailed consideration on how best to take forward the Report's recommendations in the light of all comments.

NHS Trusts (Capital Charges)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to review the capital charges on health service buildings and lands payable by NHS trusts. [95244]

Mr. Denham: All the land and buildings in the National Health Service estate were re-valued by the Valuation Office Agency in an exercise completed by 31 June 1999. The resulting valuations will be brought to account in NHS trusts' financial statements at 31 March 2000 and will consequently determine the amount of capital charges payable by NHS trusts in the financial year 2000-01.

Estimates of capital charges payable in 2000-01 were received from NHS trusts by the NHS Executive in August 1999. These estimates inform the process of allocating funding to health authorities for 2000-01 such that the NHS trusts sector is fully funded for capital charges thus estimated.

Carers

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many carers' assessments have been carried out under the Carers Act 1995; and if he will make a statement. [95334]

Mr. Hutton: Using information provided from the first dress rehearsal of the Referrals, Assessments and Packages of Care Project, which not all local authorities in England completed, we have been able to extrapolate an indicative number of carers' assessments carried out under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 for the period 1 January 1999 to 31 March 1999. This indicative figure is 62,384. No earlier data are available centrally.

26 Oct 1999 : Column: 853

St. Dunstan's

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons St. Dunstan's recent application for Government funding was rejected. [95911]

Mr. Hutton: St. Dunstan's has submitted an application under the current round (2000-01) for section 64 grants. No decision has yet been made. It is expected that Ministers will make their decisions early in 2000.

Under section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968, the Department has powers to fund voluntary organisations in England whose activities support the Department's policy objectives relating to health and social services. St. Dunstan's is eligible, as are all registered charities, to apply under the scheme.

Coronary Heart Disease

Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what additional sums for treating coronary heart disease will be allocated to the Morecambe Bay Health Authority in (a) 1999-2000 and (b) 2000-01. [95483]

Mr. Hutton: Plans for allocating the additional £50 million to help the National Health Service increase numbers of heart operations over the next two years, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 18 October, have yet to be finalised.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he intends to reply to the Question tabled for answer on 16 July on winter pressures (91791). [95811]

Mr. Denham: I shall let my hon. Friend have a reply to his earlier Question as soon as possible.

Human Tissue Act 1961

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to review the provisions of the Human Tissue Act 1961 to require coroners to consult relatives before removing body organs; and if he will make a statement. [95571]

Mr. Hutton: In view of the concerns raised about the removal and retention of organs at post mortem, we have asked the Chief Medical Officer to conduct an investigation. This investigation will look at what has happened in the country generally and at the implications for the National Health Service. Any recommendations relating to coronial practice emerging from the CMO's investigation, the Bristol Inquiry, or other local reviews will receive full consideration.

Social Workers

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to reduce the incidence of violence against social workers; and if he will make a statement. [95730]

Mr. Hutton: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) on 25 October 1999, Official Report, column 750.

26 Oct 1999 : Column: 854

Beta Interferon

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to receive the report from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence regarding the benefits to sufferers of multiple sclerosis of being prescribed Beta Interferon; and if he will make a statement. [95560]

Mr. Denham: We consulted earlier in the summer on a proposal to refer beta interferon to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), for an authoritative appraisal of the available evidence, and an announcement will be made about the outcome of the consultation in the near future

It will be for NICE to determine its timetable for the appraisal of technologies once they are referred by the Government.

Response Times Targets

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received over the response times targets for Category B and Category C calls; what discussions he has had with Community Health Councils over these response times; what plans he has to review the times; and if he will make a statement. [95565]

Ms Stuart: My noble Friend the Baroness Hayman and I have recently replied to Gloucestershire Community Health Council on the subject of Category C calls and officials have written directly to a number of Community Health Councils setting out Government policy in this area.

Ambulance response times are reviewed annually and published in a Statistical Bulletin. We have asked ambulance services to submit proposals for pilot studies looking at alternative ways of dealing with less urgent non-life threatening 999 calls. Several services are already piloting such projects, however careful monitoring and evaluation is needed to ensure patients receive appropriate clinical care.

Health Inequality

Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment his Department has made of current levels of health inequalities in England. [93175]

Yvette Cooper: My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) commissioned an Independent Inquiry into Inequalities in Health, under Sir Donald Acheson, whose report was published in November 1998. This report contained an assessment of current levels of health inequalities in England.

Our new health strategy, "Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation", sets out the main measures of success we shall be using. We shall shortly be publishing a Technical Supplement which will outline in more detail the types of information that will be collated nationally and locally.

Published alongside the health strategy was "Reducing Health Inequalities: An Action report" which sets out the action being taken across Government--and through partnerships between local and regional organisations--to reduce health inequalities.

26 Oct 1999 : Column: 855


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