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Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress is being made to help the over-50s find work in areas of high unemployment; and what incentives are available to potential employers in this respect. 
Mr. Nicholas Brown: We are firmly committed to tackling the high levels of economic inactivity among people over 50 in all areas of the country. The employment rate of older workers is up for the fourth year running, by 1.3 percentage points on last year's figures. In 200102 our range of nationally available new deals, including new deal 50 plus, new deal 25 plus and now new deal for disabled people, is expected to help some 50,000 over-50s into employment. In areas of particularly high unemployment people of all ages may be able to benefit from the additional support available through action teams for jobs and employment zones.
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Older people can offer a wealth of talent and expertise to employers. Additional incentives for employers include the new deal 25 plus employer subsidy, and the new deal 50 plus in-work training grant, which can both be paid to the employer.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he intends to allow clients (a) receiving means tested benefits and (b) subject to work and availability tests to participate fully in the proposed patients forums and receive support for reasonable costs. 
Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 3 December 2001]: People of working age in receipt of benefit can do unlimited voluntary work, as long as the usual entitlement conditions are met. Payments in respect of expenses incurred or to be incurred in connection with voluntary work are wholly ignored in the calculation of income- related benefits. Where someone receives remuneration in respect of his or her participation in a patients forum the normal rules concerning paid work would need to be considered.
Cases are decided on an individual basis, so it is necessary for people to let the Jobcentre or benefits office know about their participation.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions since 1971 children have been injected with cholera vaccines in place of ones relating to whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus; and if he will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: The Department is not aware of any incidences of children being vaccinated with cholera vaccine in place of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letter of 24 August from the hon. Member for North Shropshire, concerning the issue of beta interferon and multiple sclerosis sufferers. 
Ms Blears: A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 13 September.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) average and (b) maximum waiting times were (i) to see an orthopaedic surgeon and (ii) between seeing an orthopaedic surgeon and having an operation where that was necessary in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Mr. Hutton: The average (median) waiting times for in-patient and out-patient treatment as at September 2001 are given in the tables. The data collected for waiting times by specialty are available by quarter only, the latest data being quarter ending September 2001. Data on
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maximum waiting times are not collected; however the number of patients waiting over 26 weeks for out-patient treatment and the number of patients waiting over 18 months for in-patient treatment are given.
We are committed to reducing waiting times. We have allocated £75 million to tackle this in a number of specialties (ophthalmology, ear, nose and throat, dermatology and orthopaedics), through the action on programmes.
|Average (median) waiting time (Weeks)||Of those seen, number who waited 26+ weeks||Percentage who waited 26+ weeks|
Data refer to patients who have been seen during quarter for a first out-patient appointment following GP referral. All data are HA based.
QM08R, QF01 quarterly waiting times returns
|Average (median) waiting time (Months)||Number still waiting 18+ months||Percentage of total list waiting 18+ months|
All data are HA based
QM08R, QF01 quarterly waiting times returns
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what use is being made in the NHS of orthopaedic physicians to reduce waiting times for orthopaedic surgeons. 
Mr. Hutton: The Modernisation Agency's national health service orthopaedic service collaboratives programme shows a number of NHS trusts have developed innovative solutions to improving waiting times, access and throughput of patients. Trusts such as Gloucester Royal, Isle of Wight and Addenbrookes use orthopaedic physicians. These tend to be orthogeriatricians or rehabilitation physicians who focus on the care of the more elderly, anaesthetically vulnerable population after their operations.
The Modernisation Agency is also leading on the action on orthopaedics programme that has been developed by the Government. The aim of the action on orthopaedics programme is to significantly encourage and disseminate best practice; improve access to care; and reduce variations in waiting times.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letter of 5 October (his ref POH(4)5332/24) from the hon. Member for Northavon regarding a constituent, Mr. Wilcox. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 26 November 2001]: I regret the delay. A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 12 December.
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Mrs. Roe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Broxbourne of 6 August, 21 September, 25 October and 29 November relating to correspondence about her constituent, Mrs. Doris May Johnston, of Belmont View. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 6 December 2001]: A reply was sent to the hon. Member on the 13 December.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what money the Government have made available to UK-wide youth helplines in the last 12 months. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 26 November 2001]: The information requested is not collected centrally. However, the Department's records of its funding of voluntary organisations reveal that a number of organisations currently receiving core funding provide helpline-type services as part of their core activities. These include Kidscape, the Children's Legal Centre, the National Youth Advocacy Service and ChildLine.
In addition, the Department provided project grant assistance specifically for helpline services designed for young people in the year ending 31 March 2001 as follows:
|Name of organisation||Name/type of helpline||Amount of funding (£)|
|ChildLine||Childline for children in care||50,000|
|Child Psychotherapy Trust||Professional call back advice||20,000|
|Youth Clubs UK||Youth Listens to Youth||35,000|
John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and the management of hip fractures will be included in the clinical guidelines on the assessment and prevention of falls to be published by NICE; and if he will make a statement; 
Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will ensure that the clinical guidelines on the assessment and prevention of falls in older people will include specific guidance on osteoporosis; 
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if osteoporosis will be included in the NICE clinical guideline on the assessment and prevention of falls in older people. 
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if NICE will issue clinical guidance on the assessment and prevention of falls that mentions osteoporosis; 
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Jacqui Smith: In July we announced that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) would produce clinical guidelines for the assessment and prevention of falls including recurrent falls in older people, with an associated clinical audit dataset, database and methodology. NICE is currently looking at what this guidance will cover and has written to organisations with an interest to seek their views. No discussions have taken place with NICE on this issue of scope but as a consultee the Department will send its views to NICE shortly. NICE has indicated a provisional publication date of August 2003 for these guidelines.
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