Previous Section Index Home Page

Social Services

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to direct resources towards under-performing social service authorities. [67823]

Jacqui Smith: Poor performance will not be rewarded with additional resources. In four of the 10 councils rated as zero where we do not believe they have the capacity to improve by themselves, we are providing external assistance from the performance fund.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to add an ethnicity element to the foster care adjustment in the children's personal social services formula grant. [67821]

Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government (Mr. Raynsford) launched a consultation on options for the reform of the local government finance system on 8 July. This included options on possible changes to the foster care adjustment in the children's personal social services formula grant. One of the options includes an ethnicity element. No decisions have yet been taken and we would welcome representation from all interested parties.

Laming Report

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the Laming report has not been published; when and by what mechanism it will be published; and when he will respond to the report. [67779]

15 Jul 2002 : Column 120W

Jacqui Smith: Lord Laming continues to receive and to consider evidence, and intends to complete his report later this year. It will be published, following its receipt by the Secretaries of State for Health and the Home Department, and will be made widely available. We will respond to the report once its findings and recommendations has been considered.

Neonatal Intensive Care

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what his policy is on the co-ordination of neonatal intensive care with the paediatric surgical sub- specialisation of (a) cleft lip and palate, (b) ophthalmology and (c) otolaryngology; [67662]

Jacqui Smith: A review has been undertaken of provision for neonatal services which addresses the issues raised by the hon. Member. I have received a report following the review. This is currently under active consideration. I expect to determine the next steps in this process shortly.

15 Jul 2002 : Column 121W

Care Home Beds

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of nursing and care home beds in Surrey which have closed since June 2001. [68041]

Jacqui Smith: The information is not available centrally.

Prescription Charges

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to review the list of medical conditions exempt from prescription charges; [68071]

Mr. Lammy: The list of medical conditions conferring prescription charge exemption has not been reviewed since 1998 and we have no plans to do so. Our policy is to give priority to helping people who may have difficulty in paying charges, rather than extending the exemption arrangements to people with other medical conditions.

Young Disabled People

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action has been taken since 1997 to help remove barriers to young disabled people achieving an independent social life. [68181]

Jacqui Smith: The Government are committed to maximising support to disabled young people so that they have the same chance to succeed and participate in society as their non-disabled peers. As part of the Government's Quality Protects programme we have set national objectives to improve family support and inclusive sport and leisure services for disabled children and young people. We have earmarked £60 million over three years from the children's special grant—£15 million in 2001–02 and 2002–03 and £30 million in 2003–04. The 2001 national overview report of local authority's Quality Protects Management Action Plans shows that councils are improving services by providing more: family support; accessible after-school activities; supported access to leisure facilities; transport to facilities and specialist support workers. Through the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, we have introduced direct payments for 16 and 17-year-old disabled young people. This will increase choice, flexibility and access to services of their choice.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assistance he gives to disabled people who are moving into adulthood. [68183]

Jacqui Smith: In "Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century", issued in 2001, the Government set a national objective to improve transition services for young disabled people as they enter adulthood and in particular to ensure continuity of care and support. We have taken action to improve services in a number of ways:

15 Jul 2002 : Column 122W


Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to fill vacant dermatology positions in the NHS; and what plans he has to increase the trainee posts in dermatology. [69517]

Mr. Hutton: The national health service vacancy survey collects information on the number of posts, which trusts are actively trying to fill which have been vacant for three months or more. As at 31 March 2002 there were 20 posts (6.0 per cent. vacancy rate) that had been vacant for three months or more in dermatology.

Increased vacancies are to be expected at a time when we are trying to dramatically increase the size of the work force. New investment enables NHS trusts to create new posts however there can be a delay in providing sufficient staff for all the posts. The number of consultants in dermatology increased from 343 in September 1999 to 387 in March 2002. This is an increase of 13 per cent.

In the short-term we are looking to boost the number of doctors through measures such as increasing progression through training, improved recruitment and retention measures, recruiting internationally and promoting flexible retirement. In the longer term we are substantially increasing the number of doctors in training.

As at 30 September 2001 there were 265 specialist registrars in dermatology in the NHS in England. These increases, together with existing specialist registrar training places are expected to result in a consultant expansion in dermatology of 47 per cent. by 2010.

Next Section Index Home Page