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Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letters of 14 November and 13 December from the hon. Member for Spelthorne about his constituent J. Packman's letter to him dated 1 October. 
Ms Blears: A reply was sent on 24 January 2002.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average wait for heart bypass operations (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) of patients in Gloucestershire was in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: Data are not collected on average waiting times for heart bypass operations specifically. Instead, data have been provided for the last 12 months on the average waiting time for in-patient procedures in the cardiothoracic surgery and cardiology specialties in England and in Gloucestershire health authority. Waiting times in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are matters for the devolved Administrations.
£15 million investment was announced in November 2001 for extra heart operations; the national health service is now working towards a 12-month maximum wait by March, which we are expecting to be achieved in most areas. The waiting and choice initiative from July will give patients who wait more than six months for their operation the choice to move to an alternative provider, which will mean a shorter wait for many.
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|HA/quarter||Total waiting||Average(1) waiting time (months)|
Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the numbers of (a) private and (b) local authority homes that (i) have closed and (ii) plan to close due to the higher standards of care set out in the Care Standards Act 2000; 
(3) what financial assistance he will make available to enable private care homes to meet the standards set out in the Care Standards Act 2000; 
(4) what date private nursing homes and residential units for the elderly must meet the standards of care stated in the Care Standards Act 2000. 
Jacqui Smith: There is no evidence of a direct correlation between the introduction of national minimum standards under the Care Standards Act 2000 and the reduction in numbers of care home beds. Many providers already meet or exceed the standards and will have no reason to be concerned about them.
We do not consider it appropriate to provide direct financial assistance to care homes who do not meet the standards. However, we are providing significant additional resources for social services. Resources for social services have increased by 20.4 per cent. in real terms between 199697 and 200203, and average annual increase of 3.1 per cent. This means that local authorities have the resources they need to purchase services at realistic prices. In contracting with care homes we expect local authorities to take into account a range of provider
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costs such as implementing national standards. The additional resources include the £300 million that we announced on 9 October for this year and next.
The standards for care homes for older people will apply from 1 April 2002, unless otherwise stated in any standard. However, this does not mean that homes must meet all the standards immediately. If standards were not being met in a few respects, the National Care Standards Commission would note this in its inspection report and write to the home owner giving reasonable time in which to make the changes. The national minimum standards for care homes for older people were published on 2 March 2001 and a copy placed in the Library. The standards for care homes for younger adults were approved in December 2001 and are available on the Department of Health website (www.doh.gov.uk/ncsc). The final version will be published shortly and placed in the Library.
We are determined that the standards will be introduced in a way that will ensure that the application of the new standards does not lead to the closure of good quality homes. On 30 January I launched a package of measures to help smooth the introduction of the standards. This included statutory guidance to the Commission. In particular, the guidance says the Commission should consider whether care homes can fulfil the needs of service users without making environmental changes to meet the standards. The guidance particularly covers issues of room size, lifts, baths and shared rooms. The guidance has been welcomed by the major associations representing care homes, the Registered Nursing Homes Association, the National Care Homes Association and the Independent Health Care Association.
John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish guidance on those health care items which should be free at the point of delivery to people in care homes; and if he will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: All items provided to people in care homes by the national health service are free at the point of delivery.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many residential homes have converted to nursing care homes since January 2001. 
Jacqui Smith: Information on the number of residential care homes that have converted to nursing homes is not available centrally.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients detained under section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983 were detained for the full 28 days without having a mental health review tribunal hearing despite having requested such a hearing within the appropriate period in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
Jacqui Smith: The Department does not collect the information required.
Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many firework-related injuries were treated by hospitals during the Christmas and new year period. 
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Yvette Cooper: The latest data available show that, of 127 hospital in-patient episodes 1 in England in 200001 with the cause code "Discharge of Firework" 2 , seven were admitted in the December/January period. These figures exclude accident and emergency patients who were not admitted as an in-patient.
Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the use of Copaxone in the treatment of MS; 
(3) when he expects to make a final decision on the prescription of beta interferon and Copaxone; 
(4) if he will list health authority areas where beta interferon and Copaxone are made available to MS patients; 
(5) what recent representations he has received from patients using Copaxone; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: In August 1999, we asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to conduct a detailed appraisal of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of beta interferon and glatiramer acetate (brand name Copaxone). NICE issued its guidance on 4 February 2002. NICE recommends that these products are not cost effective on the current arrangements for supply to the NHS.
On 5 September 2001, following NICE's recommendation in its Provisional Appraisal Determination, the Department of Health commenced discussions with the manufacturers of beta interferon and glatiramer acetate about the possible provision of these therapies for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) on the national health service in a manner which could be considered to be cost-effective. These discussions are complete and on Monday 4 February we announced details of an innovative scheme to make these products available on the NHS. The scheme starts on 6 May 2002. Details are contained in Health Service Circular 2002/004 which has been issued widely across the NHS.
We do not hold information centrally on individual health authority policies on treatments for MS.
According to our records, since 5 September (when the discussions with manufacturers commenced) we have received no written representations from patients using glatiramer acetate.
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