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Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 18 November. [99851]

Mr. Mandelson: On the morning of 18 November I met with my Parliamentary Private Secretary; attended a Labour Party staff meeting; and attended Cabinet.

In the afternoon I recorded a televised message for Voluntary Services Overseas, in connection with the launch of VSO's business partnerships; and I met the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Later, in Northern Ireland I attended a National Arts Collections Fund evening.

Departmental Transport

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much his Department has spent on ministerial transport in each of the last two years. [98703]

Mr. Ingram: Ministers are required--under the terms of the Ministerial Code, and Travel by Ministers--to make efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements. For information on spend on the Government Car Service, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to her by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, on 1 December 1999, Official Report, column 255W. Additional amounts of £524,593 1 and £557,700 were spent in 1997-98 and 1998-99 respectively for Northern Ireland Ministers.

Sectarian Attacks

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the (a) dates, (b) times and (c) location of each reported sectarian attack in Northern Ireland since 1 June, of which the RUC is aware, indicating those incidents following which persons have been charged. [100176]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 1 December 1999]: It is not possible to provide the information requested as crimes are not recorded as sectarian. However I am advised that between 1 June and 23 November 1999 there have been 11 attacks on church property, 17 attacks on school property, 17 attacks on Orange halls and one attack on GAA property.

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 497W


Waiting Lists

Mr. Tony Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made by Northamptonshire Health Authority in meeting the Government's targets to reduce waiting lists within the NHS. [100783]

Mr. Denham: Northamptonshire Health Authority is making excellent progress on reducing waiting lists in line with our targets set for the National Health Service.


At the end of October 1999, Northamptonshire Health Authority had a total inpatient waiting list of 13,223. Inpatient waiting figures in March 1997 for Northampton HA was 13,835, however these figures were collected on a district resident basis, whereas current figures are based on primary care group area.

Employment Policies

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce more flexible and family friendly employment policies in the National Health Service. [100618]

Mr. Denham: The human resources framework Working Together sets out our determination to improve the quality of working lives for staff in the National Health Service. This year a resource pack called Working Lives was issued to all NHS employers to share good practice. A second resource pack is in preparation which will include lessons learnt from the retail sector on work schedules and rostering systems.

In September this year Ministers launched a £1 million campaign called "Improving Working Lives in the NHS" as part of our wider agenda on supporting the family. Each region has appointed a high profile champion to lead a multi disciplinary task force to introduce more flexible and family friendly policies in the NHS. The "Improving Working Lives Champion" for Bolton North East is Kath Holbourn, Director of Nursing, Leighton Hospital, Middlewich Road, Crewe and can be contacted on 01270 612 351.

A kite marking system will be developed to ensure that local organisations that perform well can be recognised. As a first step a draft set of principles outlining the values and characteristics of NHS organisations committed to these policies was published in September for consultation. Copies of the consultation booklet "Improving Working Lives in the NHS" have been placed in the Library.


Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to recruit nurses to, and retain nurses in, the National Health Service. [100607]

Mr. Denham: The comprehensive spending review allows the employment of up to 15,000 more nurses, midwives and health visitors over the next three years and 6,000 more nurse training places. This year nurses received the biggest real terms pay rise for nurses for 10 years, and for the first time in five years the award was paid nationally, in full and with no staging from 1 April 1999.

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 498W

This year's £5 million nursing recruitment campaign attracted a very encouraging response with over 53,000 inquiries. Since the campaign began, over 2,000 nurses have already returned to employment in the National Health Service in England, with a further 2,000 in the pipeline. 57 per cent. of those who have returned so far have taken up part-time posts, which demonstrates how the NHS is providing more flexible family friendly employment opportunities for nurses who wish to return. The Department is running a campaign called "Improving Working Lives in the NHS" as part of the overarching human resource framework "Working Together". We have also taken steps to address racism and violence and to promote equal opportunities.

The schools competition run this year also attracted a very encouraging response. The number of applications for nursing and midwifery courses for this academic year rose by 92 per cent. on the total number of applications last year.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what support has been provided by his Department to individual hospices in each of the last three years; [100137]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 30 November 1999]: The development of health improvement programmes is led by the health authority in partnership with the whole range of local interests, including those who provide local services and those who use local services either as patients or carers, the organisations that represent them, such as community health councils, voluntary sector organisations, support and community groups. This will, where appropriate, include the involvement of hospices and will provide a further opportunity for them to contribute to the development at a local level of strategies for palliative care provision. The need for high quality palliative care should be considered locally as part of the health improvement programme process.

Approximately a third of hospice running costs are met through the National Health Service.

Some £20 million will also be made available to palliative care from the National Lottery new opportunities fund for the cancer detection, treatment and care initiative. The initiative will be launched early in the new year.


Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which authorities retain specialist stroke units. [100867]

Mr. Denham: The information is not available in the format requested, as authorities use different definitions of specialist stroke units.

However the report on the National Sentinel Audit of stroke 1998 showed that in relation to organised stroke care 50 per cent. of National Health Service trusts nationally had a specialist stroke team, with 64 per cent. having a consultant with responsibility for stroke.

7 Dec 1999 : Column: 499W

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the average cost of caring for a stroke victim in each health authority for the latest available year. [100865]

Mr. Denham: The information is not available in the format requested.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what inquiries his Department has undertaken since 1992 to determine the impact of stroke on the population. [100870]

Mr. Denham: The Department conducts annual monitoring of stroke mortality rates collected by the Office for National Statistics.

Every five years disability is monitored as part of the Health Survey of England.

Dental Anaesthesia (Fees)

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will remove dental anaesthesia from the general dental practitioners' scale of fees. [101191]

Mr. Hutton: A review of general anaesthesia and sedation for dental treatment is currently taking place. Decisions about future funding for provision of this service will be made once Ministers have considered the review's findings.

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