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8 Jan 2003 : Column 273Wcontinued
Mr. Lammy: The latest information available about the proportion of emergency calls resulting in an ambulance arriving at the scene of the reported incident within the eight-minute response time for all ambulance trusts, is contained in the Department of Health Statistical Bulletin, XAmbulance Services, England 200102". A copy of the bulletin is available in the Library and also at www.doh.gov.uk/public/sb0213.htm.
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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes there have been to average turnaround times by ambulances at accident and emergency units since 1997, broken down by acute trust area. 
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the optimal level of bed occupancy to reduce trolley waits for emergency admissions and cancelled operations. 
Mr. Hutton: The Department has not issued any specific guidance on bed occupancy. As part of routine capacity planning each national health service trust needs to establish the levels of occupancy required for different specialties and types of care depending on their own particular circumstances. Appropriate levels of occupancy will depend on a number of factors including specialty, the balance between emergency and planned admissions and the size of the hospital.
Mr. Hutton: Figures are collected on a quarterly basis on the number of patients whose operations are cancelled by the hospital for non-clinical reasons on the day of surgery and at the last minute, that is on the day patients are due to arrive or after arrival in hospital or on the day of their operation. This information is available in the Library and on the Department of Health website at: www.doh.gov.uk/hospitalactivity/data requests/cancelled operations.htm
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Andy Burnham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps he is taking to (a) implement a programme of vision screening among children with hearing impairments; and (b) ensure consistent access in different areas to specialist eye examinations for children with hearing impairments; 
(3) what steps he is taking to improve the (a) consistency and (b) quality of children's vision screening programmes in England. 
Mr. Lammy [holding answer 7 January 2003]: The provision of vision screening programmes is a matter for local primary care trusts to consider in accordance with professional advice. This includes vision screening for children with hearing impairments and ensuring access to specialist eye examinations. The national screening committee recommends that all infants and children with a hearing loss should have an expert eye examination as a matter of routine. A national service framework for children, which will set standards aimed at raising the quality of the health and social care services that children receive, is currently under development. Information is not collected centrally on the amount of public funding allocated to raising awareness of vision screening and eligibility for free sight testswhich includes all children under the age of 16 and those aged under 19 in fulltime education.
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Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health during the last year for which figures are available, how many letters from hon. Members were replied to (a) within six months, (b) within six to nine months, (c) within nine to 12 months and (d) in over 12 months; and what was the average time taken by ministers in the Department to reply to hon. Members' correspondence in that period. 
|Period||Number of letters|
|(a) Within six months||15,080|
|(b) Within 69 months||489|
|(c) Between 912 months||205|
|(d) Over 12 months||74|
|Average time to reply for the 12 month period:||44.8 days|
A Customer Service Project has been set up under the Department's change programme. The aim of this project is to significantly improve the Department's performance in handling telephone, written and e-mail inquiries from members of the public and their representatives and to maximise the potential of the Department's website and other forms of communication media.
|3 month vacancy|
|Rate (percentage)||Number||Staff in post(6)||Staff in post(7)|
|Total consultants dental group||4.5||22||473||582|
|Oral and maxillo-facial surgery||2.2||5||222||255|
|Additional dental specialties||15.8||6||32||47|
(6) Whole-time equivalent
(8) Figures where sum of staff in post and vacancies is less than 10.
1. Three month vacancy information is as at 31 March 2002.
2. Three month vacancies are vacancies which trusts are actively trying to fill, which had lasted for three months or more (whole time equivalents).
3. Three month vacancy rates are three month vacancies expressed as a percentage of three month vacancies plus staff in post.
4. Three month vacancy rates are calculated using staff in post from the Vacancy Survey and the Consultant Census, March 2002.
5. Staff in post data is from the Mini Consultant Census, March 2002.
6. Staff in post data excludes staff employed by health authorities, as vacancy information was only collected from trusts, PCTs and special health authorities.
7. Medical and dental figures exclude staff in training.
8. Vacancy and staff in post numbers are rounded to the whole number.
9. Percentages are rounded to one decimal place.
10. = figures where sum of staff in post and vacancies is zero
11. Calculating the vacancy rates using the above data may not equal the actual vacancy rates.
13. Figures may not match previously published data due to a different method of rounding used on the staff in post data.
Vacancy numbers and rates: Department of Health Vacancies Survey March 2002 and Consultant census March 2002.
Medical and dental staff in post: Department of Health Consultant census March 2002
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