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Learning Disability Strategy

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements he has made for the publication of the annual report to Parliament on the implementation of the Learning Disability Strategy, with specific reference to the use of the Learning Disability Task Force and the occurrence of Learning Disability Week annually in June. [41998]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 12 March 2002]: Section 62 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 requires my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament annually a report


I am currently considering how the timing and presentation of these two reports can best reflect recent developments in the provision of learning disability services.

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Public-private Partnerships (Consultants)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total external spending by his Department was on public-private partnership consultants in each of the last four years; how many full-time equivalent consultants were employed over this period; how many billed consultancy days there were per year; what the implied average cost of each PPP consultant was; how many consultancy firms were used by his Department over this period; and if he will make a statement. [43191]

Mr. Hutton: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave him on 5 March 2002, Official Report, column 280W, which listed the total external spend on private finance initiative consultancy work from 1998 to date.

NHS Treatment (Travel Costs)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements are in place to provide assistance with the costs of travel to hospital for NHS treatment to residents of the Isle of Wight in receipt of (a) income support and (b) jobseeker's allowance. [43242]

Ms Blears: The hospital travel costs scheme, part of the NHS low income scheme, provides financial assistance for patients in receipt of a qualifying benefit, for travel to hospital for NHS treatment under the care of a consultant. Income support and income-based jobseeker's allowance are qualifying benefits for the hospital travel costs scheme. The scheme provides full or partial reimbursement of travel costs throughout England.

Hearing Aids

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the sites which will have the necessary training and equipment in place to fit digital hearing aids provided through the NHS contract from 2003–04. [43624]

Jacqui Smith: I announced the sites which will be joining the Modernising Hearing Aid Services project this financial year on 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 465W. We will shortly be approaching all those trusts not currently involved in the project to invite them to put themselves forward to receive the training and equipment necessary to prepare them to join the project after April 2003. An announcement will be made in due course.

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS trusts (a) provide digital hearing aids and (b) will be fitting digital hearing aids by the end of 2002–03. [43623]

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Jacqui Smith: The following 20 trusts are currently providing digital hearing aids as part of the Modernising Hearing Aid Services project.


In addition an announcement was made on 10 April of those trusts who will be joining the project this financial year, 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 465W.

We know that a number of other trusts are obtaining digital hearing aids through the NHS contract and that others are providing digital aids outside of that contract. Full details are not available centrally.

North and East Yorkshire and

Northern Lincolnshire Health Authority

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the expected overall cost is of locating the headquarters of the North and East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire Health Authority at York. [43976]

Jacqui Smith: The cost incurred in provisionally locating and establishing the Strategic Health Authority (StHA) HQ for North and East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire is for the rent of two offices in the York Science Park for February and March 2002. This will be approximately £3,500. This is the Project Office for the Strategic Health Authority pending a discussion about its permanent location.

On 20 March 2002, the StHA shadow Board discussed the option appraisal and work in progress to produce an outline business case for a permanent location. It was unanimously agreed that appropriate criteria had been used to inform the option appraisal on the location of the StHA and that the decision made by the Chairman and Chief Executive (Designate) that the York Science Park be the permanent location, was supported. Formal consideration of the outline business case was part of the first StHA Board meeting on 18 April 2002.

National Care Standards

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 12 March 2002, Official Report, column 1037W, on national care standards, what estimate

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he has made of the costs (a) per establishment and (b) per room of the implementation of the regulatory impact assessment for adult placements; and if he will make a statement. [44674]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 21 March 2002]: The environmental standards for adult placements reflect the domestic nature of these placements and represent a lighter touch approach to regulation for this sector. We expect the implementation cost to be minimal. The costs of implementing environmental standards for adult placements was covered in the overall totals set out within the Regulatory Impact Assessment for Care Homes placed in the Library on 21 January 2002.

Police Checks

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to resolve the difference between the National Minimum Standard 29.3 in respect of police checks and the regulations giving effect to the standard. [44770]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 21 March 2002]: Regulation 19 of the Care Homes Regulations sets out the requirement that a satisfactory Criminal Records Check must be received by a provider before he may employ someone to work in the home. Standard 29.3 can be interpreted to mean that a care worker could be offered a job subject to receipt of a check. It is not intended to imply that people can be employed prior to receipt of that check which is prohibited by regulation.

Government Information

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the administrative manuals and internal guidance which his Department has made public as required by Part 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information; and which of these were first made available after May 1997. [45398]

Ms Blears: Information on a large number of administrative manuals and internal guidance already exists in the public domain on the Department of Health internet site at www.doh.gov.uk and in particular in the:


Work is in hand to identify significant gaps and meet the code provisions in full in preparation for the issue by November 2002 of a publication scheme, as required under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Failing Hospitals

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the appointment of new managers to failing hospitals will be decided; what system of assessment was used to rate those hospitals with a no star rating; and if he will make a statement. [46029]

Ms Blears: Twelve national health service trusts were categorised as zero-star rated. The system of rating used to assess their performance in 2000–01 was published in September 2001. The 12 trusts are required to provide action plans setting out how they are going to achieve the level of performance improvement required. Each of

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the action plans were assessed by the Department at the end of 2001 together with the level of performance improvement achieved by each of the trusts since the ratings were published. Where appropriate the Department additionally used the progress reports provided by the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI).

Following the assessment it was decided that five of the trusts should be made subject to franchise arrangements. The performance of the remaining seven trusts is being closely monitored to ensure that their action plans are successfully delivered. Support will continue to be provided, where required, by the Modernisation Agency.

The process to appoint new managers under franchising arrangements is underway. Candidates have been invited to apply if they are experienced national health service managers with a good track record for delivery. They are being shortlisted for specific national health service trusts, taking into account their expressed preferences and individual skills. Shortlisted candidates are being given a month to draw up a franchise plan.

A register of interest from non-national health service bodies will be in place by the summer so that future franchises can draw on a wider pool of expertise and experience.


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