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7 Jan 2003 : Column 209W—continued

Sight Tests

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have had their sight tested following the extension of eligibility for NHS sight tests to those aged 60 and over. [87675]

Mr. Lammy: The table shows the number of national health service sight tests paid for in England for the years ending 31 March 2000 to 2002.

Eligibility to NHS sight tests was extended to those aged 60 and over from 1 April 1999.

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General ophthalmic services: number of sight tests paid for by health authorities in England for all patients and patients aged 60 and over

Number of sight tests for aged 60 and over (millions)Total number of sight tests (millions)

Information on the number of people having NHS sight tests is not collected centrally. The number of sight tests cannot be equated with the number of people, as some groups are advised to have more than one sight test in a year.

Social Care

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his targets are for the assessment and provision of social care; and what measures are in place to ensure that these targets are met. [87775]

Jacqui Smith: The Government's priority targets for social services are set out in the Department of Health's planning and priorities framework for 2003 to 2006, XImprovement, Expansion and Reform: the next three years", principally in the sections on life chances for children in care, mental health and older people. The document sets out priority targets for both health and social services. A copy is available in the Library.

The priorities for social services and social services performance in general are assessed by the Social Services Inspectorate, taking into account a broad range of performance evidence from performance indicators, inspections and in-year monitoring. Since May 2002 this assessment of performance has been summarised as the social services performance Xstar" rating. There are significant freedoms available for the best performing councils, providing an incentive to improve. Where councils show poor performance and we do not believe the council has the capacity to improve, we have provided assistance in the form of performance action teams. In cases of .serious failure we will not hesitate to use our formal intervention powers.

Social Services (Targets)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list targets set by his Department in 2002 for social services. [89032]

Jacqui Smith: In September 2002 the Government set out the priority targets for both social services and health services in the Department of Health's planning priorities framework for 2003 to 2006, XImprovement, Expansion and Reform: the Next 3 Years". This is available in the Library and on the Internet at–2006.

Social services targets are mainly in the sections on life chances for children in care, mental health and older people although social services have a contribution to make in other areas such as health inequalities and drug misuse.

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South Worcestershire PCT Deficit

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that measures taken to address the deficit of the South Worcestershire Primary Care Trust do not lead to long-term reductions in the capacity of the health economy of the area; and if he will make a statement. [88413]

Mr. Lammy: The South Worcestershire Primary Care Trust (PCT) as part of its review of all options for reducing its financial deficit is looking at services provided to the local population as well as its own administration and management. The PCT is discussing the implications of service changes and modernisation with a wide range of stakeholders and will be discussing progress on the service reviews at its next public board meeting, which takes place on 5 February 2003.

The Government expect South Worcestershire PCT to meet performance targets and return to financial balance.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to improve the delivery of thrombolysis in acute hospitals since March 2002. [88752]

Ms Blears: Since March 2002, we have taken a number of steps aimed at improving the delivery of thrombolysis, including:

In addition, in October 2002 the National Institute for Clinical Excellence published XGuidance on the use of drugs for early thrombolysis in the treatment of acute myocardial infarction". In November 2002, the Royal College of Physicians published hospital performance data by the myocardial infarction national audit project. This should help hospitals to improve the time they take to provide thrombolysis to patients with a heart attack.

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Tinnitus Research Consortium

Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in establishing the Tinnitus Research Consortium agreed by the then Minister on 11 July 2000. [88317]

Mr. Lammy: There was no such agreement. At the meeting on 11 July 2000 with representatives of the British Tinnitus Association, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Health (Mr. Hutton), who then had responsibility for sensory disabilities such as tinnitus, was asked for advice about sources of support for tinnitus research. My right hon. Friend suggested that an approach should be made to the Medical Research Council (MRC), which receives its grant in aid from the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology and which is the main agency through which the Government supports medical research.

While it is true to say that my right hon. Friend made clear that funds for tinnitus research might be available from the MRC, it would be a mistake to imply that he undertook to secure such funds. The MRC is independent in its funding decisions and does not generally earmark funds for particular topics.

The MRC has discussed mechanisms of funding with representatives of the British Tinnitus Association, and always welcomes high quality applications for funding medical research, which are judged in open competition with other demands on funding. The MRC is currently funding research projects related to tinnitus, mainly at the MRC Institute for Hearing Research in Nottingham. The MRC is also funding some more basic work on the auditory system, and this would inform any developments in treatments for a range of hearing disorders including tinnitus.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his Answer of 11 December 2002, Official Report, column 401W, on wheelchair services, if he will make a statement on the wheelchair services collaborative programme. [89353]

Jacqui Smith: As outlined in the Department's press release of 27 November, forty five centres are now participating in the wheelchair services collaborative, which spans eighteen months. The aim of the collaborative is to improve the overall experience for users and carers, and to work towards minimising delays and maximising efficiency.

The services participating are shown in the table.

Wheelchair OrganisationOrganisation
The Wheelchair ServiceBedfordshire Heartlands PCT
Bexhill & Rother Wheelchair ServiceBexhill & Rother PCT
The Wirral Wheelchair Assessment CentreBirkenhead & Wallasey PCT
Wheelchair ServiceBrent PCT
Bromley Wheelchair ServiceBromley PCT
South East Staffs Wheelchair ServiceBurntwood, Litchfield & Tamworth PCT, SE Staffs PCT
Chantry Wheelchair ServicesCentral Suffolk PCT
Southern Derbyshire Wheelchair ServiceDerbyshire Dales and South Derbyshire PCT
Wheelchair ServicesDoncaster East PCT
South Durham Wheelchair ServiceDurham and Chester Le-Street PCT
Enfield Wheelchair ServiceEnfield PCT
The Wheelchair CentreHambleton and Richmondshire pct
Haringey Wheelchair ServiceHaringey Teaching PCT
Hillingdon Wheelchair ServiceHillingdon PCT
Occupational Therapy & Wheelchair ServicesIsle of Wight Healthcare NHS Trust
The Wheelchair ServiceKing's Lynn and Wisebech Hospitals NHS Trust
Leeds Wheelchair ServiceLeeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust
North Essex Wheelchair servicesMaldon and South Chelmsford PCT
Wheelchair ServicesMilton Keynes PCT
Disablement Services CentreNorth Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
North Cumbria Wheelchair ServiceNorth Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
Wheelchair CentreNorth Lincolnshire Primary Care NHS Trust
NW Surrey Wheelchair ServiceNorth Surrey PCT
Harrow Wheelchair ServiceNorth West London Hospitals NHS Trust
Occupational Therapy and Wheelchair ServicesNorthamptonshire Heartlands PLC
Oxford Centre for EnablementNuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust
Wheelchair Assessment Centre, Thameside General HospitalOldham PCT/Thameside and Glossop
Wheelchair Service & Community Equipment ServiceRedditch and Bromsgrove NHS PCT
Exeter Mobility CentreRoyal Devon and Exeter Healthcare NHS
Wheelchair ServiceSedgefield PCT
Birmingham Wheelchair ServiceSouth Birmingham PCT
Sussex Rehabilitation CentreSouth Downs NHS Trust
South Tyneside (Healthcare NHS Trust) Wheelchair ServicesSouth Tyneside PCT
South Warwickshire PCTSouth Warwickshire PCT
Wheelchair ServicesSussex Downs and Weald PCT
Shropshire Wheelchair ServiceTelford and Wrekin NHS PCT
Liverpool Wheelchair ServiceThe Royal Liverpool and NHS Broadgreen University Hospitals
Tower Hamlets Wheelchair ServiceTower Hamlets NHS PCT
Wheelchair Service at the Rehabilitation CentreUnited Lincoln Hospitals NHS Trust
Leicestershire Wheelchair ServiceUniversity Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust
Wheelchair ServicesWalsall PCT
Wheelchair ServiceWandsworth NHS PCT
West Dorset Wheelchair ServiceWest Dorset PCT
The Wheelchair ServiceWest Kent NHS and Social Care Trust (Medway PCT, Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley PCT)

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