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Food Standards Agency

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the draft scheme for the Food Standards Agency to comply with Welsh language obligations has been finalised; and when it will be implemented. [49227]

Yvette Cooper: Following a period of public consultation, the draft Welsh Language Scheme was approved by the Welsh Language Board on 5 March 2002. The scheme will be officially launched shortly. Many aspects of the scheme have already been adopted by the food Standards Agency.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the service delivery agreement target of the Food Standards Agency to ensure effective enforcement of animal feed legislation has been met. [49247]

Yvette Cooper: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is carrying out a number of initiatives to ensure effective enforcement of animal feed legislation. In particular, the FSA is making available over £7 million to local authorities to help them increase enforcement of food legislation.

Feed law enforcement is part of the FSA's Framework Agreement with Local Authorities on Food Law Enforcement. Returns being provided under that

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agreement will help the FSA to check the use of resources and ensure feed controls are being properly enforced. The initial results are not yet available.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the service delivery agreement target of the Food Standards Agency to undertake additional research into new techniques for assessing the safety of genetically modified foods has been met. [49246]

Yvette Cooper: A three year research programme looking at the applicability of new and emerging techniques to the safety assessment of genetically modified foods began in September 2001.


Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 21 March 2002, Official Report, column 536W, on hospices, what assessment he has made of the proportion of patients who died from cancer in hospital who could have received terminal palliative care in hospices had there been sufficient capacity in the last five years. [47131]

Yvette Cooper: No such assessment has been made. Palliative care should involve a combination of services including hospital, hospice, community and day care. We know that, given the choice and the right circumstances, many people with cancer would prefer to die at home. Cancer networks have been asked to draw up service delivery plans on palliative care, including a review of the level of services offered in their area. These plans will aim to ensure that each network has a range of palliative care services available to suit the local population. They will be supported by the extra funding for palliative care pledged in the NHS Cancer Plan.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what contribution the Government makes to the independent hospice sector towards the cost of (a) employment of doctors and nurses and (b) drugs, provision of ambulances and other medical services. [48721]

Yvette Cooper: Funding for hospices is a matter for local decision, based on a strategic view of palliative care services. In the NHS Cancer Plan we pledged an additional £50 million per year nationally for specialist palliative care by 2004. We are monitoring progress in providing this extra investment.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what change there has been in state funding of independent charitable hospices in the last five years. [48723]

Yvette Cooper: There are wide variations both in the range of funding from the national health service and in the provision of specialist palliative care services across the country. We are committed to improving palliative care. That is why we have pledged to make available an additional £50 million by 2004 for palliative care so that the NHS can make an adequate contribution to the costs hospices incur in providing agreed levels of service. The additional funding will mean that for the first time, NHS investment in specialist palliative care services as a whole will match that of the voluntary sector. We are monitoring progress in providing this increased investment.

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Mount Vernon Hospital

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the review of cancer services at Mount Vernon Hospital is expected to be published; and if he will make a statement. [48902]

Yvette Cooper: The long-term review of the Mount Vernon Cancer Network and Centre includes stakeholders from the London and south-east regions and has been looking at the long-term options for the provision of high quality cancer services to the two million people who currently use Mount Vernon hospital. The review is scheduled to be published in June 2002.

Butchers' Licensing Regulations

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated annual cost (a) to butchers and (b) to public funds is of the implementation and enforcement of the Butchers' Licensing Regulations. [49255]

Yvette Cooper: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) was published in April 2000 to coincide with the introduction of the Butchers' Licensing Regulations in England.

The RIA estimated the annual cost per butcher's shop would be approximately £490, comprising £100 payable by the butcher on receipt of a licence from the local authority and an average cost of £390 per shop for staff hygiene training necessary to satisfy one of the licensing conditions. The total recurring compliance costs for the butchery sector were estimated at £3.3 million per annum.

The annual costs to public funds stem from the issue of licences by the local authorities. The RIA estimated the £100 licence fee, which is retained in full by the issuing local authority, would offset these costs.

A copy of the RIA is available in the Library.

Separate butchers' licensing schemes have been introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and are the responsibility of the devolved administrations in those parts of the United Kingdom.


Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average number of doctors is per 100 beds in the Suffolk health authority. [50585]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is in the table.

Hospital medical staff per 100 beds in Suffolk health authority

Hospital medical staff580
Average daily available beds1,660
Doctors per 100 beds(36)34.8

(36) Calculation based on unrounded figures


Department of Health medical and dental workforce census at 30 September 2000

Department of Health form KH03 2000–01

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Delayed Discharges

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many times the Suffolk health authority has reached its bed blocking targets since February. [50580]

Jacqui Smith: Suffolk health economy is working hard to reduce the number of delayed transfers of care, and has more than met its target for the end of March. This is in line with the overall national trend.

Speech Therapists

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time between a child on the Register of Special Educational Needs being referred to a speech therapist and the first consultation taking place has been in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [51052]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 18 April 2002]: Data on waiting times for children accessing speech therapy services following referral are not collected centrally. However, we are aware that children make up more than 70 per cent. of the work load of speech and language therapists (SLTs) and it is important that appropriate treatment and interventions are accessed as soon as a problem is identified.

The NHS Plan sets a target to reduce the maximum wait for any stage of treatment to three months. Provided we can recruit and retain the extra staff, and the national health service makes the necessary reforms, we hope to achieve this objective by the end of 2008.

We also announced in the NHS Plan an increase in the number of training places for therapists and other health professionals including SLTs. By 2004 there will be 4,450 more training places. Current initiatives including the grading exercise under way in all speech and language therapy services in England will result in improved pay and career opportunities for SLTs. We firmly believe that this initiative will help in the recruitment and retention of SLTs currently working, the return of therapists who have left the profession, and an increase of applicants for training places.


Mr. Cran: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the letter of 6 December 2001 from Mrs. Linda Greatorex, and subsequent correspondence of 27 March. [51398]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 19 April 2002]: A reply was sent on 22 April.

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