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Hearing Aids

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance has been issued by his Department concerning the issuing and use of digital hearing instruments; and how many such instruments have been issued to date at first wave sites; [144730]

Mr. Hutton: The project to modernise National Health Service hearing aid services was announced on 18 January 2000 following consultation with the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, the Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing Research and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People. The Royal Institute for Deaf People project team is working with the 20 participating NHS Trusts to implement the project. The National Health Service trusts involved in the project are:

Start year
Addenbrookes NHS Trust2000-01
James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust2000-01
Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear2000-01
Forest Healthcare NHS Trust2000-01
Bradford Hospitals NHS Trust2000-01
Leeds Teaching NHS Trust2000-01
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust2001-02
Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust2000-01
Morecambe Bay Hospitals NHS Trust2001-02
Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust2000-01
United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust (children)2001-02
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust2001-02
East Berkshire Community Health NHS Trust2000-01
Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals NHS Trust2000-01
Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust2000-01
Queens Medical Centre University NHS Trust Nottingham2000-01
The Kings Mill Centre for Healthcare Services NHS Trust2001-02
Sheffield Children's Hospital NHS Trust (children)2000-01
University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust2000-01
Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal Hospitals NHS Trust2000-01

The following table shows the numbers of patients and digital hearing aids that have been supplied in the first phase of the project.

PatientsTotal digital aids
Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust152192
Addenbrookes NHS Trust153176
Royal United Hospital Bath9090
University Hospital Birmingham1414
Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal Hospital NHS Trust1010


As at Tuesday 1 January 2001

15 Jan 2001 : Column: 56W

Medical Records

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to allow NHS Direct workers to have access to individual medical records; [144958]

Ms Stuart: NHS Direct nurses have access to a patient's previous NHS Direct consultations at that site. They do not have access to medical records held by other health service providers.

By the end of 2001-02, all NHS Direct sites will write NHS Direct patient records to one central database, ensuring that wherever a patient called NHS Direct from, the information given in previous calls can be used to help assess the immediate issue.

The strategic information objectives for the whole National Health Service were given in the "Information for Health Strategy", which stated that:

The target for implementing this is March 2005.

A copy of the "Information for Health Strategy" is available in the Library.


Mrs. Roe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Broxbourne of 18 October 2000, 16 November 2000, 13 December 2000 and 9 January on behalf of her constituent, Mrs. Rita Oliver. [145097]

Mr. Hutton: A reply to the hon. Member's letter was sent 11 January.

Intermediate Care Services

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people received intermediate care services in 1999-2000; how his Department will ensure that the NHS and local councils are able to achieve the target set in the NHS Plan Implementation Programme for the number of people who will receive intermediate care beds in 2001-02; and how this target will be broken down regionally. [145348]

Mr. Hutton: Complete and reliable data on the number of people receiving intermediate care services in 1999-2000 are not currently available. Guidance on intermediate care, to be issued shortly, will clarify the definition and data for 1999-2000 will be collected to establish a baseline for monitoring progress towards the targets in the NHS Plan Implementation Programme.

Further clarification and guidance will be available in the forthcoming intermediate care guidance, planning guidance following the national beds inquiry and the National Service Framework for Older People.

The Department is currently developing regional targets for intermediate care. Progress towards meeting the targets will be monitored through the regional performance management process.

15 Jan 2001 : Column: 57W

Old People's Homes

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to publish the national minimum standards for homes for older people. [145105]

Mr. Hutton: We plan to publish the finalised national minimum standards for care homes for older people, shortly.



Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what BSE testing he proposes to undertake in the United Kingdom during 2001. [145831]

Mr. Nick Brown: Following the reports of an increase in the number of cases of BSE in some other European countries, the European Union has asked member states to carry out a survey for the disease. Starting on 15 January, the brains of at least 6,500 cattle over 30 months old which die on farm or in transit, or which are killed on farm but are not eligible for the over-thirty-months scheme, which will be tested for BSE during 2001 in Great Britain.

This is in addition to the testing carried out when clinical symptoms indicate the disease may be present in specific animals.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what restrictions apply to the publication of official scientific advice on BSE risks. [144392]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 8 January 2001]: No restrictions apply.


Mr. Worthington: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with the United States Department of Agriculture and with the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs about the alkaline hydrolysis at elevated temperature technology for the disposal of infected cattle carcases; and what conclusions he has drawn about its use in England. [143318]

Ms Quin [holding answer 20 December 2000]: No Minister has had any such discussions. However, officials are discussing, with the company which produces it, the possibility of permitting the use of this technology in England.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for what scientific reasons regulations governing animal waste by-products do not include the hydrolosis process as an approved method. [143319]

Ms Quin [holding answer 20 December 2000]: The EC Animal Waste Directive, 90/667/EEC, which is implemented in Great Britain by the Animal By-Products Order 1999, sets out the permitted disposal routes for animal by-products. When the Directive was adopted in 1990, the hydrolysis process had not been developed as a disposal route for animal by-products and therefore could not be included. The Directive is under review and the

15 Jan 2001 : Column: 58W

European Commission is seeking the advice of the EU Scientific Steering committee on whether hydrolysis should be a permitted disposal route in future.


Mr. Luff: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make it his policy to use the members' letterboard for urgent communications with hon. Members only, and to send all routine correspondence by Royal Mail. [144448]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 8 January 2001]: Officials in my Department are currently reviewing arrangements for the delivery of correspondence to hon. Members and have discussed this issue recently with colleagues at the Palace of Westminster.

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