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Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what arrangements exist for monitoring numbers of children with autism; [43607]

Yvette Cooper: All local statutory authorities are responsible for ensuring that they have sufficient knowledge of local needs and priorities to inform the pattern of services in their area.

Details of the number of children diagnosed with autism since 1990 are not available. In December 2001 the Medical Research Council (MRC) published a comprehensive review of autism research, which provides an authoritative overview of the current state of knowledge on the prevalence, incidence and causes of autism. The report was commissioned by the Department and produced with the help of a wide range of experts and a "lay" group including parents and representatives of autism charities. It is available on the MRC website at "".

St. James' Hospital, Portsmouth

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what correspondence he has had concerning his Department's decision to challenge the declaration of a town green in the grounds of St. James' Hospital in Portsmouth; and if he will make a statement; [43824]

10 Apr 2002 : Column 483W

Ms Blears: Apart from correspondence with our professional and legal advisers, the Department has received letters from Portsmouth City Council legal department and the hon. Member.

Portsmouth City Council as the registration authority received an application to register part of St. James Hospital, Portsmouth as a Town or Village Green, and appointed an inspector to conduct a non-statutory inquiry which the Department opposed. The Council subsequently determined to approve the application. Based on legal advice the Department has filed an application for a review of the Council's decision. It seems unlikely that the drafters of the Commons Registration Act 1965 intended it to apply to National Health Service (NHS) land.

Discussions have been held with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), who are the successor to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, making representation for guidance to make it clear that NHS land within hospitals should not be subject of future applications for registration as a Town or Village Green.

The Department has not discussed with Portsmouth City Council its policy on open spaces either generally or specifically in connection with St. James Hospital. That is a matter for local discussions in the context of a planning application for development on the land remaining in the ownership of the NHS.

The area of land in the proposed Town or Village Green is largely within an area declared surplus to NHS requirements. The site has been marketed with the benefit of outline planning permission for residential development granted by Portsmouth City Council, and with open space provided in accordance with that outline consent.


Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consultation will be conducted with parents about the introduction of fluoridated milk in schools. [42977]

Ms Blears: When a scheme is under consideration, health service staff visit the school and explain the objectives of the scheme both to parents and staff. Leaflets and letters are then issued to parents, which indicate that children who are taking fluoride tablets or drops do not need fluoridated milk and that milk without the addition of fluoride will remain available. A consent form is attached to the letter which parents have to sign before their child can receive fluoridated milk.

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Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether children drinking fluoridated milk in schools will be monitored for fluoride excess. [42979]

Ms Blears: The design of the milk fluoridation scheme is such that it is unlikely that children will consume excess fluoride and children are not being monitored on an individual basis. However, there is general monitoring in place to evaluate the scheme. The amount of fluoride excreted in a 24 hour period gives a good indication of the amount consumed. Recently published data show that a number of children in the scheme have had their fluoride excretion levels measured and no evidence was found of any problems. In addition, fluorosis levels will be monitored in four health authorities in the scheme.

Eastbourne District General Hospital

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many in-patient admissions there were to Eastbourne District General Hospital in each of the last 10 years. [44713]

Ms Blears: The information requested is collected centrally at trust level, not by individual hospital. The figures for Eastbourne Hospitals NHS Trust are as follows:

Eastbourne Hospitals NHS Trust: inpatient admissions 1991–92 to 2000–01



1. The Trust was established in its current form in 1992.


"Hospital Episode Statistics (HES)"

Hospital Beds

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money has been provided for hospital bed places since 1997 for hospitals in (a) England and (b) Coventry. [43525]

Mr. Hutton: Funding for hospital beds is not identified separately within health authority allocations.

Since 1997, total health authority allocations have risen from £20.9 billion to £41.8 billion in 2002–03. Ringfencing within allocations is kept to a minimum to allow health authorities to manage flexibly all the resources available to them. It is for health authorities in partnership with primary care organisations and other local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities, modernising services and meeting NHS Plan targets.

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Hospital Design

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the design and construction of (a) new hospitals, (b) hospital extensions and (c) hospital refurbishment. [43690]

Mr. Hutton: 'Achieving Excellence in Healthcare Design' is the Department's programme to deliver design excellence in national health service buildings. We are raising the profile of design, partnering with key architectural professional bodies and supporting the NHS by providing advice and guidance at key stages of the procurement process.

Each hospital embarking on a new development, however large or small, will nominate a local design champion from the Trust board to ensure that the new building provides a high quality patient-focused environment with good working conditions for staff and buildings that make a positive contribution to the local neighbourhood.

To ensure that good design is embedded within the NHS hospital building programme design proposals will be reviewed by a panel, led by NHS Estates with the Prince's Foundation, CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and others. Designs will be reviewed at the earliest stages of the procurement process before a preferred bidder is chosen.

Future new projects will need to provide evidence of the involvement of staff, patients and the public in planning their design.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in drawing up the legal and financial framework within which foundation hospitals will operate. [48023]

Mr. Hutton: The full implications and details surrounding the establishment of foundation hospitals are still being explored. We are working with a broad range of interested parties including 3 star trusts to take this work forward.

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assistance he plans to give to rural hospitals in the new status health authorities. [43398]

Mr. Hutton: The NHS Plan sets out our vision for a health service designed around the patient, offering a comprehensive range of services for everyone, using the guiding principle of providing as much care as possible as close to home as possible.

It will be for local primary care organisations, working in partnership with the new health authorities, to develop services that meet the needs of the community they serve, taking account of clinical standards and safety and the views of local people. Rural hospitals clearly have an important role to play in meeting patients' desire for care closer to home.

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