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Aventis T25 Maize

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will hold an open public investigation into the health implications of the currently approved trials of Aventis T25 maize. [5652]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

I am confident that the current approved trials of Aventis T25 maize do not pose a risk to health and in any case none of the GM crop in the trials will enter the food or feed chain.

The implications of health of Aventis genetically modified maize known as T25 were assessed during the passage of the marketing dossier through the European GMO regulatory regime. T25 maize was granted regulatory approval under Directive 90/220 for unrestricted cultivation throughout the European Union in 1998 through the French authorities. The dossier, including the assessment of risks to health, is on the public register held by my Department and is available for scrutiny.

However concerns about the safety of T25 maize for animal feed have been raised and need to be addressed. These concerns have been presented in public as part of the DEFRA public hearing into the seed listing of the variety of T25 known as ChardonLL. This hearing is currently suspended pending further information from the European Commission and the French competent authorities. However, the Government have referred all the written evidence presented to the hearing relating to the safety of T25 to the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment for advice. ACRE has sought further advice on the animal feed issues from the Advisory Committee on Animal Feed. ACRE expects to finalise its advice to Government before the end of the year.

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As part of this re-evaluation we intend to hold an additional open debate involving both Aventis and its critics, where ACRE can question the strength of the scientific evidence from both sides.

The safety of T25 maize for use in food is regulated by the European novel food regulations and is a matter for the Food Standards Agency.

Heart Surgery

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients waiting for NHS heart surgery in the west Midlands he estimates have (a) had their operations performed privately or (b) died while waiting for that surgery in the last 12 months. [8984]

Mr. Hutton: The Department does not collect data about the number of operations performed in the private sector.

Waiting list mortality data are not collected, nor are data collected on other possible reasons why a patient may be removed from the waiting list prior to treatment, including a change in the patient's place of residence or a move to the private sector.

We are committed to improving waiting times for cardiac surgery, and in the west midlands initiatives include a new £13 million purpose built cardiac surgery critical care unit which recently opened at the University Hospitals Birmingham national health service trust.

We are also developing a new purpose built cardiac surgery centre at the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS trust which is due to open in 2003, and is the first new specialist cardiac centre to be built in the west Midlands for 30 years.


Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons and at whose request his Department increased the level of fine upon conviction of a person other than a registered midwife or registered medical practitioner attending a woman in childbirth to £5,000; and if he will make a statement. [8869]

Mr. Hutton: The independent review of the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1997 carried out by JM Consulting in 1998 noted that the level of fine for misuse of title was not as high as in other regulatory bodies and recommended that penalties should be raised. We accepted this recommendation, and this is reflected in draft legislation to establish a new Nursing and Midwifery Council. It will be for the court to decide what penalty to impose in any individual case taking into account all of the relevant circumstances.


Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to ensure the promotion of breastfeeding in health regions; and when he will publish the results of the study his Department is conducting into barriers to breastfeeding in low income groups. [9425]

Jacqui Smith: The infant feeding initiative was launched in May 1999 with an aim to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding among those groups of the population where breastfeeding rates are lowest. Two

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infant feeding advisers were appointed part-time, one a health visitor and one a midwife to act as a focus for developing and implementing strategies for promoting breastfeeding these lower socio-economic groups, and to support the national network of breastfeeding co-ordinators at a regional level.

A total budget of nearly £3 million over three years from the Public Health Development Fund has been allocated for this initiative. This is more money than had previously been spent on breastfeeding promotion and reflects our commitment to health inequalities that was highlighted by the Acheson Report and has since been reconfirmed with the NHS Plan commitment for increased support for breastfeeding.

A total of 79 best breastfeeding practice projects have been funded across all regions. The aim is to increase the rates of breastfeeding, both initiation and duration. A summary of the first wave of 31 of these projects is being printed and will be available shortly. Copies of the summary report will be distributed to all health regions and organisations involved in the best breastfeeding practice projects. Increasing the incidence and duration of breastfeeding is a goal shared by all Sure Start initiatives and several health action zone programmes. Many of the best breastfeeding practice projects have now obtained mainstream funding from Sure Start initiatives.

Mental Illness (Employment)

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of those with a diagnosis of severe mental illness were in employment in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000 and (e) on the latest date available. [9518]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not available centrally. However, the psychiatric morbidity survey carried out by the Office for National Statistics and published in 1995 provided some information on the prevalence of psychiatric disorder by employment status. A copy of this report has been placed in the Library. A repeat psychiatric morbidity survey took place in 2000. The results of this survey are not yet available.

Mental Health

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the ethnic minority monitoring exercise in respect of mental health services announced on 24 October 2000. [9517]

Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Minister of State has asked the mental health task force to prepare a strategy to address the issues surrounding black and minority ethnic mental health issues. A task force member, Professor Sashidharan, is taking forward the development of a draft strategy under the guidance of the ethnicity and mental health reference group. We expect consultation papers on the draft strategy to be issued in spring 2002.

While the reference group has yet to finalise the content outline, a survey to find out about the experiences of black and minority ethnic people who use mental health services is being considered as part of the strategy.

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The strategy is aiming to ensure that a range of issues across the mental health national service framework and NHS Plan are addressed.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on talking treatments for those with a diagnosis of severe mental illness; and if he will make a statement. [10495]

Jacqui Smith: The mental health national service framework sets out specific targets, service models, performance indicators and milestones for the provision of the most effective services, including "talking treatments" for people with severe mental illness. In support of this, the Department has commissioned the

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National Institute for Clinical Excellence to develop a guideline on the management of schizophrenia to cover the full range of effective treatments, including talking therapies.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) available beds and (b) staffed residential places for mentally ill people there were in each of the years since and including 1995–96, indicating the number of staffed residential places in (i) local authority, (ii) the voluntary sector and (iii) the private sector and the available beds in (A) private hospitals, (B) nursing homes, (C) clinics and (D) the NHS, excluding day care. [10519]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is given in the tables.

Table 1: Number of available beds for adults with mental illness, in nursing homes, private hospitals and clinics and national health service facilities in England, 1996 to 2000

Rounded numbers
YearTotal number of available bedsRegistered nursing beds in private hospitals and Clinics(21),(22) (A,C)Registered nursing beds in nursing homes(22),(23) (B)NHS facilities— average daily number of available beds(24) (D)

(21) Registered beds in private hospitals and clinics are not available separately.

(22) For 1995–96 and 1996–97, refers to date during the period 1 October to 31 March. The basis of data collection changed in 1998 and from 1998 onwards figures are as at 31 March.

(23) Registered nursing beds in general nursing homes and mental nursing homes (including registered nursing beds in dual registered homes).

(24) The average daily number of beds during the year ending 31 March.


Figures may not add to totals because of rounding


Department of Health annual returns

Table 2: Number of residential places for adults with mental illness(25) in staffed residential care homes, by type of home, England, 1996 to 2000

Rounded numbers
As at 31 MarchAll residential placesResidential places in local authority staffed homes(25)(i)Residential places in voluntary homes (ii)Residential places in private homes(26) (iii)Residential places in dual registered homes

(25) Residential places for people with mental illness including older people who are mentally infirm.

(26) Includes places in small homes (less than four places)


Figures may not add to totals because of rounding


Department of Health annual returns

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of calls to NHS Direct are associated with mental illness. [10530]

Jacqui Smith: NHS Direct received 3.5 million calls during 2000–01, of which between 6 and 8 per cent. were logged as mental health-related. However, there is evidence from an independent study commissioned by the Department to suggest that a higher number of mental health calls were actually received and handled. A copy of the report of the evaluation (March 2001) has been published by King's College London Institute of Psychiatry. Methods for recording calls are being reviewed to align them closely with the clinical assessment system.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will introduce a statutory right to advocacy for users of mental health services. [10017]

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Jacqui Smith: In the White Paper, "Reforming the Mental Health Act", which was published in December 2000, we set out our proposal to introduce in a new mental health act an independent specialist advocacy service for patients subject to powers under a new act. The Department has commissioned work on how best this might be achieved.

There are no plans to introduce a statutory right to advocacy for users of mental health services not subject to compulsory powers. However the mental health national

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service framework makes it clear that mental health service providers should ensure that specific arrangements are made for the provision of advocacy services.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much of the money to improve wards and conditions for psychiatric patients announced on 6 April has been spent; and where and when. [9512]

Jacqui Smith: £5 million was allocated for 2001–02 as follows:

Portsmouth Healthcare National Health Service Trust (St. James Hospital)500,000
Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust (Fairmile Hospital)250,000
Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Mental Health Trust—(Barrow Hospital)500,000
East London and City Mental Health Trust (St. Clements)380,000
Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust (St. Anne's)265,000
County Durham and Darlington Priority Services NHS Trust (the Gables and County Hospital, the Pierremont Unit)270,000
Tees and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust (St. Lukes, Middlesbrough)535,000
Worcester Community and MH NHS Trust (Redditch, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster)150,000
Coventry Healthcare Trust (Caludon Centre)150,000
Shropshire Community NHS Trust (Telford and Wrekin, Shrewsbury)100,000
North Birmingham Mental Health NHS Trust (Small Heath)100,000
South Birmingham Mental Health NHS Trust (Queen Elizabeth Hospital)100,000
Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust (Lister and QE2 Hospitals)700,000
Rotherham Priority Health Services NHS Trust (Rotherham)300,000
Doncaster and South Humber Healthcare Trust (Scunthorpe and Goole)200,000
North Sefton and West Lancashire Community NHS Trust (Scarisbrick unit, the Hesketh Centre)210,000
Tameside and Glossop Community and Priority Services NHS Trust (Wards 35/36)110,000
St. Helen's and Knowsley Hospital NHS Trust (Whiston Hospital)180,000
Total 5,000,000

Information on actual spend to date is not held centrally.

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