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Small Acute Hospitals

13. Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians regarding the clinical standards set in small acute hospitals. [156296]

Mr. Denham: Ministers regularly meet the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians. These colleges produce guidance on clinical standards in a wide variety of contexts. The NHS Plan sets out our intention to establish the Medical Education Standards Board to ensure that patient standards and the service needs of the NHS are fully aligned with the development of the curriculum and approval of training programmes.

Transplant Centres

14. Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will announce his decision on the rationalisation of transplant centres. [156297]

Mr. Denham: Our decision will be announced in due course.

Placebo Medicines and Surgery

15. Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent investigations he has made into the outcomes of the use of placebo (a) medicines and (b) surgery. [156298]

Mr. Hutton: The Department, via the NHS Research and Development Health Technology Assessment Programme, funded a systematic review of the role of expectancies in the placebo effect and their use in the

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delivery of health care. The review was published as a monograph in March 1999, and a copy has been placed in the Library.

IVF Treatment

16. Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many requests for IVF treatment were granted in the last year for which figures are available in (a) Darlington, (b) Southampton, Itchen, (c) Barrow and Furness, (d) Pontefract and Castleford, (e) Birmingham, Edgbaston and (f) Colchester constituencies. [156299]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested is not available centrally. Parliamentary constituency and health authority boundaries are not coterminous. The Department published a report of a baseline survey it undertook of infertility services in the National Health Service in 1997. Copies are available in the Library.


18. Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what targets he has set with respect to improving cancer treatment. [156301]

Yvette Cooper: The cancer plan sets out targets for waiting times standards so that by 2005 there will be a maximum two month wait from urgent general practitioner referral to treatment for all cancers. Linked to this is the extension of the cancer services collaborative from April; and the introduction of booked admissions for cancer patients by 2004.

21. Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his strategy to combat cancers in men. [156304]

Yvette Cooper: The cancer plan is a strategy to tackle all cancers in the whole population. The NHS prostate cancer programme sets out our aims to improve treatment and research in this area, which affects a significant number of men every year.

26. Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made in delivering improved cancer services. [156309]

Yvette Cooper: Cancer services are receiving record levels of investment. For this financial year £255 million is available for the achievement of cancer targets and milestones. It will support the appointment of new consultants; implementation of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance to end the postcode lottery of care; cutting waiting times for cancer and increasing National Health Service investment in specialist palliative care services.

34. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made on reducing waiting times for cancer treatment. [156319]

Yvette Cooper: The National Health Service cancer plan published in September sets out new waiting time targets for cancer treatment which will be implemented over the next five years.

Since April 1999 over 140,000 women with suspected breast cancer have benefited by being referred urgently by their GP and offered an appointment with a specialist

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within two weeks. During 2000 this two week standard was rolled out for all patients with suspected cancer requiring urgent specialist investigation.

The cancer services collaborative (CSC) has demonstrated that by changing the way cancer services are provided, for example by pre-planning and pre- booking care, waiting times can be cut and a major impact can be made on cancer care. From 1 April 2001 the improvements in cancer care developed by the CSC are being rolled out to every cancer network in the country, supported by up to £15 million central funding to ensure the improvements are implemented throughout the country.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what factors underlay the Government's estimate of the number of lives that will be saved from the Government's 10-year cancer plan target; and if he will make a statement. [156564]

Yvette Cooper: The "Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation" White Paper published in July 1999 included a target to reduce the death rate from cancer in people under 75 by at least a fifth. Based on the assumption of steady improvement towards the target and the population characteristics present in 1997, it was estimated that achievement of the target would be associated with up to 100,000 lives saved over the period 1997 to 2010. Independent expert advice at this time suggested that 40 per cent. of the target reduction could come from improvements or extensions to screening programmes and better treatment, and 60 per cent. of the target reduction could be achieved through primary prevention such as reductions in smoking and improvements in fruit and vegetable consumption.

Health Inequalities (Halton)

19. Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the allocation of resources to deal with health inequalities in Halton. [156302]

Yvette Cooper: The NHS plan says that by 2003, following review of the existing weighted capitation formula, reducing inequalities will be a key criterion for allocating NHS resources. While the review is undertaken, the "health inequalities" adjustment is being introduced for the year 2000-01 as a new non-recurrent allocation. North Cheshire health authority has received £1.15 million "health inequalities" adjustment, which will be used for the benefit of the residents of Halton and Warrington.

NHS Plan (Birmingham)

20. Mr. Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made in implementing the NHS plan in Birmingham. [156303]

Yvette Cooper: The NHS plan is being integrated with the Birmingham health authority health improvement programme and service and financial framework programmes to ensure a coherent and consistent approach to delivering the plan.

Additionally, the Secretary of State recently approved a major hospital development in South Birmingham and development of an ambulatory care and diagnostic centre on the City Hospital site.

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Bed Blocking (Essex)

22. Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will investigate the causes and consequences of bed blocking in Essex. [156305]

Mr. Denham: The causes and consequences of delayed discharge are dealt with locally as part of the winter planning process. Considerable work has been undertaken on this issue by North and South Essex health authorities and local authorities.

Primary Care Trusts

23. Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received from doctors regarding the operation of primary care groups. [156306]

Mr. Denham: We have regular meetings with a range of organisations and receive feedback from primary care professionals on the operation of primary care groups. Primary care groups continue to provide a strong framework for doctors and nurses to support each other, and enable practices to innovate while ensuring that the benefits of innovation deliver high quality services for the whole local population.

35. Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the role of primary care trusts in relation to local mental health services. [156320]

Mr. Hutton: Where it is appropriate and a primary care trust (PCT) has the capacity to do so, it can directly provide mental health services to its population in a primary or community setting. Alternatively where it is appropriate for mental health services to be provided by another organisation such as a National Health Service mental health trust, the role of the PCT will be to commission the service from that trust.

The decision as to which role a PCT will play is one for each local health system following consultation on any proposals to change the way services may be provided. These proposals would be as a result of the clinical needs of their patients as determined through the implementation of the National Service Framework for mental health services and the NHS plan.

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to increase the number of general practitioners to improve the services of primary care trusts; and if he will make a statement. [156300]

Mr. Denham: We have recently announced measures (including financial incentives) to encourage general practitioner recruitment and retention. The primary care workforce review, due to report shortly, is expected to include further recommendations on numbers of GPs and other staff and on ways of working to deliver the planned expansion of primary care.

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