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Care Homes (Portsmouth)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many new care homes have been registered in Portsmouth, South since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [33592]

Ms Blears: Information on the number of new home registrations in Portsmouth is not available. The number of care homes and places for each year since 1997 is given in the tables. Information on residential care and nursing care is not available on consistent boundaries.

Table 1: Number of residential care homes and places in Portsmouth unitary authority, 1997 to 2001— at 31 March

Residential care homesResidential care places

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Table 2: Number of nursing(54) care homes and beds in Portsmouth and South East Hampshire health authority, 1997 to 2001— at 31 March

Nursing care homesNursing care beds

(52) The number of homes in 1997 refers to the period 1 October 1996 to 31 March 1997

(53) Not available

(54) General and mental nursing homes, private hospitals and clinics. Includes dual registered homes, therefore the number of residential homes and nursing homes should not be added together


Department of Health's annual returns

NHS Appointments Commission

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people who had been appointed to a position within the NHS by the NHS Appointments Commission had declared a political interest, broken down by political parties in 1997; and what proportion of the total number of appointees this represents for each political party; [33729]

Ms Blears: Appointments made by the national health service Appointments Commission since it was established on 1 April 2001 until 6 February 2002 are given in the table.

Health authoritiesNational health service trustsPrimary care trustsTotal
Liberal Democrat2231136
No political activity declared18365132515

Long-term Care

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many acute beds were blocked last year in Oxfordshire owing to a shortage of long term care places. [33586]

Jacqui Smith: Management data for year ending 2000–01 suggest that, in relation to patients aged 75 and over, on any given day during 2000–01 Oxfordshire health authority had 22 delayed discharges due to a patient waiting for a nursing or residential care home placement. The health authority had 82 delays in total and a rate of delayed discharge of 13.4 per cent.

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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase the pay of paramedics in the Ambulance Service; and if he will make a statement. [33051]

Ms Blears [holding answer 4 February 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) on 29 January 2002, Official Report, columns 282–83W.

Christchurch Health Centre

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action has been taken to market the former Christchurch Health Centre premises since March 2001; and if he will make a statement. [33640]

Ms Blears [holding answer 5 February 2002]: A marketing exercise for Christchurch Health Centre was conducted in March 2001 and a buyer has been identified. Terms have been agreed subject to contract and valuation report and solicitors have been instructed to complete the sale of the Department's leasehold interest in the property.

Multiple Sclerosis

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of people with MS likely to present themselves for assessment by a neurologist with a view to getting a disease-modifying drug on the NHS; and when they will have been assessed. [34116]

Ms Blears: All patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), and those with secondary progressive MS in which relapses are the dominant feature, are eligible under the scheme for treatment on the national health service if they meet criteria developed by the Association of British Neurologists (ABN).

It has been estimated that the total number of patients of England and Wales who fall within the ABN criteria might range between 7,500 and 9,000. The scheme starts to operate on 6 May 2002. It is anticipated that it might take 18 months to initiate all eligible patients on the scheme.

Smallpox Vaccine

Mr. Robert Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 22 November 2001, Official Report, column 410W, upon what estimates on the rate of transmission of the smallpox infection his Department has based its containment strategy. [33334]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 5 February 2002]: The Department has commissioned work from the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research regarding transmission rates of smallpox infection. Results of this work were recently published in the scientific journal, Nature. Transmission rates will vary with the particular circumstances of the outbreak of any disease. Estimates of transmission rates range from four to six in a community acquired infection in modern settings, to the higher levels of 10 to 12 in circumstances where the outbreak has taken some time to be fully recognised and appropriate infection controls implemented.

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Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the London regional office will conclude its review of the Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust in respect of its management of in-patient waiting lists; and if he will publish the findings. [32665]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 6 February 2002]: Epsom and St. Helier National Health Service Trust validates both its active and suspended list on a regular basis and is confident that their waiting lists are robust and accurate. Further validation was carried out by the trust itself as a result of being identified as having a suspension rate greater than 10 per cent. Epsom and St. Helier was not identified as having adjusted inappropriately its waiting list figures.

The regional office conducts robust validation of waiting list data from trusts and health authorities including following up any irregularities. The regional office does not consider that there is any reason to review waiting list information at Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust. The Audit Commission has indicated that it will conduct a further audit of trusts whose suspension rate is higher than 10 per cent., as a matter of course.

Adoption and Fostering

Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to propose amendments to the legislation regarding adoption and fostering of children. [34352]

Jacqui Smith: An Adoption and Children Bill is currently before Parliament. The Bill will overhaul the outdated Adoption Act 1976 and modernise the existing legal framework for domestic and intercountry adoption. It will implement the proposals in the White Paper, "Adoption: a new approach", published in December 2000, which require primary legislation and underpin our drive to improve the performance of the adoption service and promote greater use of adoption. The Bill will also help deliver our target of an increase of 40 per cent., and if possible 50 per cent., in the number of looked after children who are adopted.

The Adoption and Children Bill was introduced and published on 19 October 2001. It received its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 29 October and has been considered by a Special Standing Committee. We also intend to develop new regulations and guidance on adoption as part of its programme to implement the Bill.

We have also introduced new regulations and national minimum standards for fostering, to which all fostering service providers will be required to adhere. The new regulations were introduced in January and we are about to publish the standards. Both will come into force in April. They will apply in all settings, whether council, voluntary or independent, in England, creating a level playing field across the foster care sector and ensuring that service users can be confident that fostering service providers are operating to good standards.

We are committed to taking action to ensure good quality services and thereby promote better placements for children and young people and reduce the potential of abuse and harm to children in foster care. Introducing a

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new regime of registration and inspection for fostering providers is an important part of our wider programme to improve services and outcomes for looked after children.

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