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Rainbows Children's Hospice

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much statutory funding has been paid to Rainbows Children's Hospice in 2001–02. [88628]

Mr. Lammy: For the year 2001–02 Leicestershire Health Authority allocated #26,000 to the Rainbows Children's Hospice. This funding was provided under Section 64, of Health Services and Public Health Act 1968, providing a grant to a voluntary group for respite, palliative and terminal care for children.

The Department's view on funding in support of children's hospices is that this should be through negotiation between the hospices, primary care trusts and social services departments, which are responsible for delivering services locally and are best placed to work in partnership with organisations like hospices and to agree an appropriate level of funding.

There is, however, a case for pump priming these negotiations. We expect this to be facilitated through the New Opportunities Fund, which has a budget of

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#48 million to support projects for children with life threatening illness, including children's hospice respite services. #15.3 million has been earmarked specifically for hospice care. Awards will be available next year.

Secure Psychiatric Accommodation

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many places are available for secure psychiatric accommodation for women; how many such places were available five years ago; and if he will make a statement on the adequacy of such provision with special reference to changes in the prison population. [88241]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 7 January 2003]: Currently, beds in secure psychiatric accommodation are not always designated by gender so it is not possible to be specific about the number of places that are available for women. Returns indicate that at the end of March 2001, the latest date for which information is currently available, there were 4,847 secure beds, compared to 3,845 secure beds at the end of March 1998. These figures include high, medium and other secure bed numbers and cover all genders.

The consultation document XWomen's Mental Health: Into the Mainstream", published in September last year, envisages the development of dedicated, integrated, secure services for women. The needs of women requiring transfer from prison to hospital will be taken into account as part of the process of planning these proposed new services.

Sex Selection

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether in reaching his decision to ask the HFEA to consult the public on sex selection, he considered the results of the previous (1993) HFEA public consultation on this; and if he will make a statement; [89034]

Ms Blears: The results of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's 1993 public consultation on sex selection were published in an HFEA press release on 20 July 1993 and were summarised in the HFEA's third annual report, published in July 1994. The HFEA concluded that sex selection should only be permitted for medical reasons where there is a risk of a child of a particular sex inheriting a serious life-threatening disorder. A copy of the annual report is available in the Library and a copy of the press release is available from the HFEA.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what basis the HFEA in their current consultation on sex selection stated that India does not prohibit social sex selection. [89041]

Ms Blears: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority advises that regrettably this was an error in the consultation document. The law in India prohibits

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the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques to determine the sex of an embryo for social reasons but variations in practice have been reported.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what proportion of NHS ambulance trusts publish data on their thrombolysis protocols and procedures; [88754]

Mr. Lammy: Currently eight of the 31 ambulance services are providing paramedic thrombolysis according to protocols agreed by local health economies. These protocols are based on a clear guideline from the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee (JRCALC) published on the Royal College of Physicians' and Ambulance Services Association websites. They are available from the individual ambulance services on request. Paramedic training is essential for safe and effective thrombolysis. Central funding of #14 million from 2002 to 2004 is being invested in ambulance trusts to support paramedic training and provide 12 lead ECG monitors/defibrillators and linked to accident and emergency departments. All front-line 999 ambulances will be equipped by December 2003.

Visually Impaired Children

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what treatment is available on the NHS to visually impaired children; and what services are available to visually impaired children living in disadvantaged areas to assist them in managing in their neighbourhood environment. [87361]

Mr. Lammy: The national health service provides ophthalmic services to visually impaired children, making use of a multi-disciplinary approach to meet their needs. The hospital eye service (HES) works closely with each child's general practitioner, education, social and rehabilitation services, exchanging reports and information.

Ophthalmologists aim to identify the underlying cause of the problem and offer treatment if indicated. They also co-ordinate the response from the HES.

Orthoptists work closely with ophthalmologists and assess visual function, visual acuity and binocular vision; under the direction of an ophthalmologist, they provide treatment aimed at improving visual acuity and oculo-motor control.

Optometrists test the sight of visually impaired children and prescribe glasses and/or low vision aids. Children under the age of 16, and under the age of 19 in full-time education, are entitled to help with the cost of their glasses through the NHS voucher scheme. Optical low vision aids are supplied on loan through the HES.

The Government's cross government programmes for children give priority to children in disadvantaged areas and to disabled children. Sure start partnerships aim to work with parents and children up to four years old to provide appropriate early intervention and support. The #450 million children's fund is being targeted on

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preventive work with children, primarily in the five to 13 age group and their families, helping them before they hit crisis.

Under the Children Act 1989, local authority social services departments in England, working with other local authority departments and health authorities, have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children

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in their area who are in need and to promote the upbringing of such children, wherever possible by their families, through providing an appropriate range of services. Under the definitions in the Children Act, all disabled children are included as children in need. A wide range of family support services is provided by the public and voluntary sectors. Services can include short-term breaks, guidance and counselling, day care, family centres and home help.