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4 Mar 2003 : Column 990Wcontinued
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what targets are being set to reduce diagnosis time for people suffering from motor neurone disease; and if he will make a statement; 
Jacqui Smith: A wide range of services which are tailored to suit individual needs are required to support people with motor neurone disease (MND). National health service services provided include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and augmentative communication, mobility aids and district nursing support. In the later stages of the disease, the following interventions may also be required: enteral feeding (for severe dysphagia), domiciliary or hospice care and ventilatory support, including mechanical ventilation and tracheostomy.
The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has reviewed the evidence of the clinical and cost effectiveness of Riluzole for MND. NICE has advised that Riluzole (marketed as Rilutek) should be made available in the NHS as one component of the management of those people with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis form of MND.
There is no specific test for MND and it may be difficult to diagnose with certainty in the early stages of the disease, because the patterns of symptoms varies between individuals and may be similar to those seen in other conditions. However, a great deal of research work is being carried out, and encouraging advances are being made in understanding both the disease process and the way motor neurones function.
We are developing a national service framework (NSF) for long term conditions, which will have a particular focus on neurological conditions. It is scheduled for publication in 2004 and implementation from 2005. The national service framework will help to drive up standards and improve the quality of and access to care for people with neurological conditions like MND.
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Jacqui Smith: The national service framework (NSF) for long-term conditions will focus on neurological conditions, including motor neurone disease and brain and spinal injuries. It will also tackle some of the common issues, which are relevant to a wider range of people with long-term conditions generally and help to drive up the quality of treatment and care.
We have appointed an external reference group and working groups to take forward detailed development of the NSF. One of the groups is looking at areas where standards might be set along the patient pathway for people with progressive conditions, including motor neurone disease. People with clinical expertise and experience in dealing with motor neurone disease and from the Motor Neurone Disease Association are represented on this group. They will ensure that the needs of people with motor neurone disease are considered during development of the NSF.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 7 February 2003, Official Report, column 474W, on the National Service Framework, what methods are being used to monitor the progress of implementation of the NSF milestones for older people. 
Jacqui Smith: The data collection lines underpinning the monitoring of targets in Improvement, Expansion and Reform and the frequency of data collections are currently in the process of being determined. Progress on the other national service framework milestones will be for strategic health authorities to monitor locally.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) of 28 January 2003, Official Report, column 822W, on nurses' recruitment, how many agencies have been removed from the list of agencies who are compliant with the code of practice. 
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answers of 4 February 2003, Official Report, column 225W, on nurses, and nursing agencies, what the reasons are for the differing indications of the level of compliance with the code of practice by nursing agencies 
The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (PASA) is working with the NHS through a procurement programme for the provision of temporary staffing by commercial agencies across the national health service in England. As the framework agreements are awarded, the agencies will be contractually bound to comply with detailed quality standards, including compliance with the code of practice. PASA will ensure that all successful agencies are complying with their contractual obligations. A full range of national audits into compliance will begin in summer 2003.
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Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the progress of local health authorities against the National Service Framework for Older People's 2003 milestone on falls prevention. 
Jacqui Smith: The Department will be monitoring formally the overall falls milestone of integrated health and social care falls services by April 2005 as this is included as one of the key targets in "Improvement, Expansion and Reform", the priorities and planning framework for 200306.
Progress on the other falls milestones will be for strategic health authorities to monitor locally, although these are 'stepping stones' for reaching the overarching milestone of a fully integrated falls service.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 5 February 2003, Official Report, column 317W, on the overseas nurse advice line, if he will break down the calls received by the helpline by (a) type of query and (b) length of call; what records are kept on callers into the helpline; and if this information is passed on to any other bodies. 
Mr. Hutton: The international nurses' advice line receives queries from nurses from abroad who are currently in the United Kingdom. The calls primarily concern problems the nurses are experiencing either with their current employer or the agency they work for.
The following information is kept on file: the caller's name, postal address, contact phone number and email address; whether the caller was a member of the Royal College of Nursing or Unison; the caller's query or problem; action to be taken by the Department; the outcome of the call; and where the caller found out about the advice line.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 5 February 2003, Official Report, column 317W, on the international nurses advice line, if he will set out its objectives. 
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health who the members are of the group set up to identify problems faced by overseas nurses; what budget the group has; what findings it has so far presented; what findings have been published; what timetable the group will work to ; and if he will make a statement. 
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Association, Registered Nursing Home Association, Department of Trade and Industry, Philippines Embassy and Philippines Nursing UK to join an informal working group to identify problems faced by overseas nurses and help establish the international nurses advice line.
Mr. Hutton: Patients waiting more than six months for elective surgery in the procedures covered by choice will normally be offered the choice of two alternative hospitals. Those waiting for primary hip or primary knee operations may, in addition, be offered overseas treatment.
The London patient choice project started to offer choice for cataract patients who have already waited more than six months for treatment, in October 2002, and from March 2003 will be offering a similar choice in ear, nose and throat, general surgery and orthopaedics. The scheme rolls out to other surgical specialties such as gynaecology, urology and plastic surgery from summer 2003.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many choices of alternative hospital patients in Greater Manchester waiting six months for orthopaedic treatment, ENT treatment or general surgery will have. 
Local private sector capacity;
Other available national health service capacity in the Greater Manchester conurbation.
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