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Sustainable Development Strategy

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she intends to publish the forthcoming DEFRA Sustainable Development Strategy; and if she will make a statement. [63424]

Margaret Beckett: I have today published DEFRA's Sustainable Development Strategy—'Foundations for our Future'.

'Foundations for our Future' clarifies what sustainable development means in practice for DEFRA's policy development and decision making, as well as its own operations. In particular the strategy:


The strategy also commits my Department to review annually the progress that we make against the principles, commitments and priorities that are included within the strategy. This review process will be open and participative, involving DEFRA's staff and stakeholders.

I have placed copies of the strategy in the Library of the House. It is also available at: http://defraweb/ environment/sustainable/index.htm.

HEALTH

Arthritis

11. Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will introduce a national system for monitoring arthritis. [59131]

Jacqui Smith: There are currently no plans to introduce a national system for monitoring arthritis. However, the importance of good arthritis services, particularly for the health and well being of older people is recognised in the National Service Framework for Older People. Arthritis is set as the next priority for development within the ten-year framework.

Emergency Acute Facilities

12. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the provision of emergency acute facilities in remote rural areas. [59132]

Mr. Hutton: It is the responsibility of primary care trusts to commission accessible high quality services that can meet the needs of people living in rural areas.

Any substantial changes in the pattern of such services must be the subject of full public consultation, and in relation to any contested proposals, my right hon. Friend will make final decisions only after a full assessment of the case for change.

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Smoking

13. Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of smoking cessation policies in Worcestershire. [59133]

Ms Blears: Smoking cessation services in the west midlands are assessed quarterly by the Regional Director of Public Health. The Smoking Advice Service in Worcestershire has rapidly developed across primary and secondary care, and in community settings since January 2001, and is now demonstrating good performance, with quit rates higher than regional and national averages.

Mental Health

14. Mr. Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to review procedures under the Mental Health Act 1983 which delay the provision of suitable treatment. [59134]

Jacqui Smith: The modernisation of mental health services through the National Service Framework, the NHS Plan investment of £300 million by 2004, and reform of legislation proposed in the White Paper "Reforming the Mental Health Act 1983" will provide effective and safe services more easily and quickly.

26. Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance is given to mental health and social care trusts regarding the provision of specialist mental health services for black and ethnic minority users. [59147]

Jacqui Smith: The Department has issued guidance on specialist mental health services including:


All departmental guidance stresses that services must be able to meet the needs of black and ethnic minority service users.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what he is doing to remove the stigma surrounding mental health in relation to the delivery of services. [61897]

Jacqui Smith: The 'Mind out for mental health' campaign is a sustained programme of activity with partners in the voluntary sector, the media and business working together to change attitudes and behaviour surrounding mental health. In 2002–03, we shall be widening the focus of the employers' strand of the campaign to address the stigma experienced by people with mental health problems in the national health service. The Department also supports the Royal College of Psychiatrists' 'Changing Minds' campaign to combat stigmatisation of people with mental health problems by, among others, healthcare professionals, specifically doctors.

Cancer

15. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on waiting times for cancer treatment. [59135]

Ms Blears: The NHS Cancer Plan sets out our strategy to reduce cancer waiting times with the ultimate goal being that no one should wait longer that one month from

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urgent referral for suspected cancer to the start of treatment, except for a good clinical reason or through the patient's personal choice.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what allocation the health authorities have received from the money earmarked for palliative care under the Cancer Plan in 2001–02. [60676]

Ms Blears: The Government have pledged in the NHS Cancer Plan that funding for specialist palliative care services, including hospices, will increase by £50 million per annum by 2004. This investment is included in the overall national health service investment for implementing the Cancer Plan. We are currently reviewing the outturn position for 2001–02 and the progress in that year.

Health Inequalities

16. Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department is doing to reduce health inequalities between different social groups, with special reference to the incidence of cancer. [59136]

Ms Blears: We have put in place major cross-Government programmes of work to address the risk factors for cancer and tackle health inequalities. The Cancer Plan made a commitment to reduce the prevalence of smoking among manual groups to 26 per cent. by 2010. We are taking this forward with a comprehensive programme to tackle smoking, including NHS smoking cessation services and a public information campaign. We are also running a Five-a-Day Programme to increase access to, and consumption of fruit and vegetables. The New Opportunities Fund is providing funding to set up 66 five-a-day community programmes led by primary care trusts based in deprived areas. We have also recently announced a new £2.5 million programme of community physical activity pilots that will be set up in Neighbourhood Renewal areas. This work underpins the two national health inequalities targets in the areas of life expectancy and infant mortality, announced by the Secretary of State last year.

NHS Patients (Overseas Treatment)

17. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS patients have been treated in France in the last 12 months. [59138]

Mr. Hutton: 109 patients were treated in France earlier this year under the pilot scheme to refer national health service patients overseas for routine elective surgery.

Schizophrenia

18. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects NICE to publish its guidance on the use of atypical anti-psychotics for people with schizophrenia; and if he will make a statement. [59139]

Mr. Lammy: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued guidance on newer atypical anti-psychotics on 6 June 2002. In addition the Department of Health has commissioned NICE to develop a clinical guideline on the management of schizophrenia, to cover treatment by drugs, including atypical anti- psychotics, and psychological therapies. This work is currently in train.

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Directions have been issued obliging health authorities and primary care trusts to provide appropriate funding for recommended treatments. From 1 January 2002, the NHS has three months from the date of publication of each Technology Appraisal Guidance to provide funding, so that clinical decisions made by doctors involving NICE recommended treatments or drugs can be funded.

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when he expects NICE to publish its guidance on the use of atypical anti-psychotics for people with schizophrenia; and if he will make a statement; [59860]

Mr. Lammy: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued guidance on newer atypical anti-psychotics on 6 June 2002.

Directions have been issued obliging health authorities and primary care trusts to provide appropriate funding for recommended treatments. From 1 January 2002, the national health service has three months from the date of publication of each technology appraisal guidance to provide funding, so that clinical decisions made by doctors involving NICE recommended treatments or drugs can be funded.


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