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NHS Beds

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase the number of beds in the NHS. [136688]

Mr. Denham: As a result of the National Health Service Plan there will be 7,000 extra beds by 2004. Of these, on current assumptions, 2,100 will be in general and acute wards, the first increase of its kind in 30 years. The remaining 5,000 will be in intermediate care.

Violence against NHS Staff

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on steps being taken to protect NHS staff from violence. [136690]

Mr. Denham: A cross-government campaign "NHS zero tolerance zone" was launched on 14 October 1999, underpinned by a national target to reduce violence against staff by 20 per cent. by 2001 and by 30 per cent. by 2003. All National Health Service trusts should now have systems in place to record incidences of violence to staff, and also to have local reduction strategies in place.

Phase II of the "NHS zero tolerance zone" campaign was launched on 3 October 2000. It is aimed at reducing violence in the high risk settings, namely mental health, ambulance, community and primary care.

By April 2003, NHS employers are expected to be accredited as putting an improving working lives standard into practice, which includes applying zero tolerance to violence against staff.

Institutional Racism (NHS)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to tackle institutional racism in the NHS. [136691]

Mr. Denham: Activity to mainstream race equality in the National Health Service is occurring on a number of fronts, including within policy making in the Department, service delivery and the NHS workforce. In January 2000

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the Department published "The Race Equality Agenda of the Department of Health", which set out a programme of action on race equality. "The NHS Plan: a plan for investment, a plan for reform", published in July 2000, recognises the need for a modern NHS to respond to the needs of our diverse, multi-cultural society. This is reflected in the core principles of the new NHS and in a number of the commitments made in the NHS Plan. The NHS Plan also makes clear that every member of staff in the NHS is entitled to work in an organisation which is committed to improving diversity and tackling discrimination and harassment (including racial discrimination and harassment). The Department has also launched an Equalities Framework for the NHS, "The Vital Connection", in April 2000, which includes clear requirements for the NHS to promote race equality and introduces a package of standards, indicators and monitoring arrangements. Significant progress has also been made in implementing "Tackling Racial Harassment in the NHS--a Plan for Action", published in March 1999. All these documents have been placed in the Library.

Cataract Services

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on cataract services in the NHS (a) nationally and (b) in Coventry. [136581]

Mr. Denham: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced in July that we are investing £20 million to modernise cataract services. This will ensure quicker and more efficient services for patients and increase the number of cataract operations performed from 170,000 in 1998-99 to 250,000 by the year 2003.

A total of £2.1 million has been allocated from this money to improve cataract services in the West Midlands region. Of this, £630,000 has been awarded to a consortium that includes Coventry and Warwickshire Health Authorities.

NHS Doctors

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many doctors (a) work and (b) worked in 1996 in the NHS. [136689]

Mr. Denham: The number of doctors working in the National Health Service as at 30 September 1999 (latest available figure) was 93,980. The comparable number working in the NHS in 1996 was 86,580. This represents an average annual increase of 2.8 per cent. per annum.


Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children are awaiting adoption, broken down by age in years. [136854]

Mr. Hutton: The available information for the past five years to 1999 (latest year available) is given in the table.

Estimated number of children looked after by local authorities who were placed for adoption at 31 March by age, England 1995-99

Age at 31 March19951996199719981999
All ages2,2002,2002,4002,4002,900

(18) Estimate less than five


1. Table excludes children looked after under a series of short-term placements

2. Columns may not add to totals due to rounding

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Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he plans to improve the system of adoption. [136855]

Mr. Hutton: We are committed to ensuring the best use of adoption as an option to meet the needs of looked after children. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced in February this year that we would conduct a thorough review of adoption services. As a first step towards this, we asked the Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit to carry out a study of adoption practice during the summer to assess the evidence, explore the options for action and make recommendations to the Government. The Performance and Innovation Unit Report was published for consultation in July.

The Prime Minister has announced that we will publish a White Paper before the end of the year setting out our new approach to adoption, building on the review and the results of the consultation. The White Paper will include proposals for new legislation to be introduced next year. In the meantime we are taking forward a programme of work to improve adoption services, including setting up a National Adoption Register and drawing up new National Standards for adoption services. In addition, we have announced an adoption and permanence task force to spread best practice and improve local council performance.

We are also committed to improving intercountry adoption services and to putting in place effective measures to protect children. Regulations under the Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Act 1999 are being prepared which will shortly be subject to a public consultation exercise. The Act enables the United Kingdom to ratify the 1983 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. We hope to be able to present the regulations to Parliament early next year.

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Drug-related Deaths

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many deaths were caused by (a) heroin, (b) crack/cocaine and (c) ecstasy in each year from 1990 to 1999; and what his projection is for the number of deaths in each category for 2000. [136573]

Ms Stuart: The information requested is given in the table, and is for England and Wales.

Deaths where drug mentioned on death certificate

HeroinHeroin and/or morphineEcstasy/MDMACocaine

Figures prior to 1993 have not been provided as they are not directly comparable to post-1993 data due to changes in the way data are collected and recorded. Data prior to 1993 are included in series DH4, available in Library. Detailed figures for the period 1993 to 1998 are available in Health Statistics Quarterly Editions 5 and 7, which can be found in the Library of the House. Data for 1999 will be available in 2001.

It is difficult to make accurate predictions for the number of deaths in these categories for 2000, as the numbers are small and highly variable.

Heroin and/or morphine is listed because heroin breaks down in the body into morphine, meaning the latter may be detected in the body at post-mortem and recorded on the death certificate. Therefore both figures are listed.

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