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Public Inquiries (Child Abuse and Neglect)

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many public inquiries have been held into child (a) abuse and (b) neglect cases since 1990. [57192]

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Jacqui Smith: There has been no statutory public inquiries into child abuse or neglect cases since 1990, apart from the Victoria Climbie inquiry that is currently carrying out its work. The Government guidance, "Working Together to Safeguard Children", issued by the Home Office, Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health in December 1999, states that when a child dies and abuse or neglect are known or suspected to be a factor in the death, the area child protection committee (ACPC) should always conduct a review into the involvement with the child and family of agencies and professionals. In all cases, the ACPC overview report should contain an executive summary that will be made public.


Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many whole-time equivalent nurses are responsible for assessing patients for free nursing care. [57247]

Jacqui Smith: Across the country as a whole, in the period from October 2001 to March 2002, a total of approximately 800 nurses received training in carrying out the registered nursing care contribution in order to determine the needs of approximately 42,000 people. The number of whole-time equivalent nurses is not known.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people have been waiting (a) less than one month, (b) over one month and less than two months, (c) over two months and less than three months, (d) over three months and less than four months and (e) over four months for an assessment for free nursing care; [38354]

Jacqui Smith: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave him on 6 March 2002, Official Report, column 462W.

Hospital Stays

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he has taken since 1997 to ensure that people (a) are not discharged from hospital too early and (b) do not stay in hospital longer than necessary. [57524]

Jacqui Smith: The number of people aged over 75 with a delayed discharge has fallen from 15.7 per cent. to 10.5 per cent. since 1997. In order that this trend should continue, we have already responded to the issue of delayed discharge with a special grant to councils of £300 million over two years, and the establishment of the 'change agents team' dedicated to supporting social services and the national health service to solve these problems locally. We are in the process of updating the hospital discharge workbook, which aims to help health, social services and other agencies improve discharge procedures.

Over the longer term, the Government intend to bring forward legislation to make councils responsible for meeting the costs to the NHS of delayed discharges. The new approach will be about putting in place the right

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incentives to ensure that people are able to leave hospital as soon as treatment is completed and it is safe for them to do so.

Mental Health

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many new mental health units have been built since June 2000. [58190]

Jacqui Smith: 22 major schemes, each exceeding £2 million have been completed throughout the country and funded from public capital, with a total value exceeding £50 million. Two large private finance initiative schemes have been developed at a value of £28 million.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are being taken to adapt older mental health units to match the criteria laid down for the building of new mental health units. [58191]

Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made available funding of £30 million over two years from 2001–02 specifically for improving the physical environment in in-patient psychiatric wards.

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will carry out an audit of the opinions of mental health service users in hospitals regarding mixed and single-sex wards. [58188]

Jacqui Smith: The Department does not intend to carry out a national audit of the opinions of mental health service users regarding mixed and single sex hospital accommodation. The Department has set clear objectives for the elimination of mixed sex accommodation in mental health settings. National health service trust boards are responsible for putting in place policies and procedures to address patient safety, privacy and dignity. The Department's guidance to trusts sets out that NHS trust chief executives should ensure that local patient surveys are considered as a means of assessing patients' and relatives' views about services and to ascertain their concerns.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what benefits exercise referral schemes offer in the field of mental health treatment. [58314]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 21 May 2002]: Regular physical activity reduces the risk of depression and has positive benefits for mental health including reduced anxiety, enhanced mood and self-esteem. Existing referral schemes involve primary care professionals referring patients to facilities such as leisure centres or gyms for supervised exercise programmes. Last year, the Department published a national quality assurance framework to improve the quality of existing referral schemes and help the development of new ones.

Children in Care

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of children who have been in care homes in the last five years have been convicted of an offence. [58118]

Jacqui Smith: Information on the number of children who have been in care homes who have been convicted of an offence is not collected centrally.

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Of all children looked after in England for at least one year who were aged 10 years or older at 30 September 2000, 2,800 or 11 per cent. were cautioned or convicted during the year.

Hepatitis C

Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the National Strategy report on hepatitis C will be published. [57604]

Yvette Cooper: We set up a steering group last year to assist in developing a strategic approach to hepatitis C by bringing together issues relating to prevention, control and treatment. We plan to consult on a strategy for hepatitis C in England during the summer, which will take account of advice from the steering group.

Nurse Prescribing Scheme

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what account he took of the need to tackle antibiotic resistance before deciding to extend the nurse prescribing scheme to include nine oral antibiotics. [42312]

Ms Blears [holding answer 11 May 2002]: We took the decision after detailed discussion between senior officials and representatives of the Specialist Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Disability Equipment Services

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to implement the recommendations of the Audit Commission's "Fully Equipped" report on the provision of disability equipment services for older and disabled people. [57151]

Jacqui Smith: Since publication of the Audit Commission's report "Fully Equipped" in March 2000, the Department has extended the agenda set by the report, and gone beyond the four recommendations for the Department. In particular, it has done this by developing, with the active involvement of the Audit Commission, guidance on the modernisation of community equipment services and by funding the integration of local authority and health equipment services. The Department has also allocated £30 million to modernise hearing aids services, including the provision of digital hearing aids, and £4 million for the provision of life-like covering for artificial limbs. The Modernisation Agency will be identifying and spreading good practice within wheelchair services. The Department has continued to encourage health authorities, trusts and social services, and now, primary care trusts, to implement the further 13 recommendations that fell into their remit.

Intermediate Care

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 486W, on intermediate care, how many people in each quarter of 2001 who were (a) referred to/receiving intermediate care in a residential setting to prevent hospital admission and (b) referred to non-residential intermediate care teams to prevent hospital admission were subsequently admitted to hospital within (i) one month, (ii) two months, (iii) three months and (iv) four months. [57191]

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Jacqui Smith: Information on the number of people admitted to hospital following an episode of intermediate care is not available.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 16 April 2002, Official Report, column 926W, on community hospitals, how many intermediate care beds there were in (a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001–02; and what proportion were located in rural areas, broken down by region. [57468]

Jacqui Smith: The results of a survey of NHS intermediate care in England carried out last summer, giving data by region and by health authority for the three years 1999–2000 to 2001–02, are in the Library. Information on the proportion of intermediate care beds in rural areas is not available.

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