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Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what means he will monitor and support the application of the national minimum standards and regulations as set out in the Care Standards Act 2000. 
Jacqui Smith: The application of the national minimum standards and regulations by registered care providers will be monitored by the National Care Standards Commission. The commission will also have a general duty to encourage improvements in the quality of registered services and will be able to suggest ways in which services can be improved. If any regulations or standards are not complied with on inspection, the commission will agree an action plan and timescale with the provider to achieve compliance. Generally, the commission will work with providers over time to meet the standards.
The commission is accountable to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and its own performance as an executive non-departmental public body will be monitored by the Department in accordance with the management statement and financial memorandum, which has been placed in the Library.
Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will issue guidance to registered care services on the operation of the national minimum standards and regulations and the National Care Standards Commission. 
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Jacqui Smith: Guidance for registered care providers about the National Care Standards Commission and containing information about the registration process will be issued shortly.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his Department's most recent assessment of the causes of autism. 
Jacqui Smith: The Medical Research Council (MRC) published the report of its detailed review of the epidemiology and causes of autism on 13 December 2001. The report, commissioned by the Department in March 2001, provides a clear, authoritative picture of what scientific research has revealed about the occurrence and causes of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The report accepts that autism is not as rare as previously thought but notes that the apparent increase in prevalence of ASDs is likely to have resulted from better diagnosis and clearer definition as well as increased awareness and makes recommendations on the future research strategy for the United Kingdom.
The MRC report identifies a strong genetic component in the causation of autism, while acknowledging that most researchers believe autism has a variety of causes, including possible interactions with environmental factors.
We announced on 14 February that the Government have allocated a further £2.5 million for research into autism. The funds are being given to the MRC to help them to take forward recommendations on research contained in their report on the epidemiology and causes of autism referred to above.
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the implementation of the recommendations on physical activity contained in the National Service Framework for coronary heart disease; and if he will make a statement. 
Yvette Cooper: The Health Development Agency has recently completed a review of the progress on local programmes of effective policies on increasing physical activity, as required by standard one of the National Service Framework (NSF) for coronary heart disease. The report found programmes at varying levels of development. In light of these findings, the Department has commissioned the agency to develop guidance that will help primary care teams to design effective policies and strategies on physical activity, healthy eating, obesity and tobacco control. It will support the NSF for coronary heart disease, older people and diabetes, and the NHS Plan and Cancer Plan. The guidance will be published later this year.
Valerie Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to ensure that NHS trusts are fully implementing NICE guidance on hearing aid technology published in July 2000. 
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Jacqui Smith: The Commission for Health Improvement incorporates the monitoring of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance in its clinical governance reviews. This is to ensure that national health service trusts have mechanisms in place to implement and comply with all NICE guidance.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS trusts will receive new funding for digital hearing aids. 
Jacqui Smith: We invited expressions of interest by 1 March 2002 from all health communities not yet involved in the modernising hearing aid services project. We will make decisions shortly about which sites will be included.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 25 January 2002, Official Report, column 1121W, on waiting lists, when the results of the regional office reviews of the listed trusts will be (a) completed and (b) published. 
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 28 February 2002]: Evaluation of all 13 trusts named in the NAO report "Inappropriate adjustments to NHS waiting lists" is still to be completed by regional offices. We expect these evaluations to be completed soon.
David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the hon. Member for Walsall, North will receive a reply to his letter of 21 January regarding midwives, ref P0003279. 
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 28 February 2002]: A reply was sent out on 5 March 2002.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will provide a substantive reply to the letter of 7 January from the hon. Member for Totnes, enclosing one from Ms Janet Cross of Kingsbridge, Devon on the Royal Commission report on Long Term Care, which was acknowledged by his Ministerial Correspondence Unit on 11 January. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 4 March 2002]: A reply was sent on 6 March.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what percentage of operations were cancelled for non-clinical reasons as a proportion of admissions in Hull and the East Riding in each year since 1997. 
Jacqui Smith: The number of operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons and the and percentage of operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons as a proportion of admissions in the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in each year since 1997 is shown in the table.
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|Year||Cancelled operations||Total admissions||Percentage|
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients died within 30 days of surgery in Hull and the East Riding in each year since 1997. 
Jacqui Smith: The number of patients who died within 30 days of surgery in Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust in each year since 1997 is shown in the table.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were readmitted to hospital as emergency cases soon after being discharged in Hull and the East Riding between 1997 and 2001. 
Jacqui Smith: The number of patients re-admitted to hospital as emergency cases soon after being discharged by the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust between 1997 and 2001 is shown in the table.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 23 January 2002, Official Report, column 969W, on funeral arrangements, what measures have been taken since 27 October 1997 to (a) ensure and (b) monitor compliance with the guidelines on burial in unmarked graves issued to NHS trusts on that date. 
Ms Blears: Since October 1997 NHS Trusts have had explicit guidance that where patients die in NHS hospitals and have a burial arranged by the Trust, the burial plot should be marked by a permanent memorial or marker. Trusts were further reminded of this requirement in April 2001 subsequent to the publication of the report into the Alder Hey Inquiry.
Compliance with the guidance is not monitored centrally, but if concerns were brought to the attention of the Department of Health they would be investigated.
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