Previous Section Index Home Page

18 Mar 2003 : Column 654W—continued

Skills Task Force

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the Skills Task Force will complete its investigation into labour supply and demand in the construction industry in Northern Ireland. [100434]

Jane Kennedy: The Northern Ireland Skills Taskforce (NISTF) contracts its skills forecasting exercises to the Priority Skills Unit of the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre (NIERC). Work on the labour supply and demand situations in the construction industry started in February 2003 and is due to be published in November 2003.


Healthcare-acquired Infections

18. Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the progress his Department has made in reducing the number of healthcare-acquired infections. [103210]

Mr. Hutton: We have introduced a mandatory surveillance system for healthcare associated infection and since April 2001 all acute national health service trusts have reported methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus blood stream infections. The first year's data show that rates tend to be higher in special trusts and in the south and east of the country. An MRSA improvement score will be a performance indicator from July. Surveillance will be extended to other micro-organisms and incidents such as outbreaks of gastro-enteritis later this year.

Kent and Canterbury Hospital

19. Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the future of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. [103211]

18 Mar 2003 : Column 655W

Ms Blears: A decision on the reconfiguration of acute services in east Kent could not be made while the judicial review of the consultation process was under consideration. This has now been completed and Ministers are considering the recommendation made by Kent and Medway Strategic Health Authority.

Capitation Funding (Bedfordshire)

20. Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received about capitation funding in Bedfordshire. [103212]

Mr. Lammy: I understand that the Chairman of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority has written on 10 February to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State regarding national health service investment in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire in 2003–06.

Community Pharmacies

21. Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received regarding the Office of Fair Trading report on community pharmacies. [103213]

Mr. Lammy : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) earlier today.

Multiple Sclerosis

22. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis. [103214]

Jacqui Smith: We are committed to improving care and treatment for people with multiple sclerosis. Around 4,600 patients are receiving treatment with a disease modifying drug. A National Institute for Clinical Excellence guideline will be published shortly. This and the forthcoming National Service Framework for Long Term Conditions will help to improve services for people with MS.

First Aid

23. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with the Department for Education and Skills on teaching basic first aid to children in schools. [103215]

Ms Blears: Department for Education and Skills and Department of Health officials have always worked closely together on this issue—most recently in the development of the Safety Education Guidance for schools.

First aid training is included in the revised National Curriculum, introduced into schools in September 2000. This includes a non-statutory framework for Personal, Social and Health Education in both primary and secondary schools.

Hospital Reconfigurations

25. Mr. Khabra: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on hospital reconfigurations. [103217]

18 Mar 2003 : Column 656W

Mr. Hutton: New guidance, "Keeping the NHS Local: A New Direction of Travel" was published on 14 February. It challenges the view that 'biggest is best', and puts patients and the public at the centre of the process. The core principles must be applied by the NHS with immediate effect.

Acute Trusts

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in how many cases primary care trusts are withholding money from acute trusts; and what the (a) individual and (b) total value is of the amounts being disputed. [103216]

Mr. Hutton: In line with this Government's policy of shifting the balance of power, discussions about such issues take place between the national health service trust and the relevant commissioner and, if required, the managing Strategic Health Authority.

Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding he has allocated into the (a) causes, (b) care and (c) treatment of (i) autism and (ii) Asperger Syndrome in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [102930]

Jacqui Smith: The Medical Research Council (MRC), which receives most of its income via grant in aid from the office of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, is the main government agency that funds research into medical conditions. The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for support for research into any aspect of human health and these are judged in open competition with other demands on funding. The MRC funds a large amount of work on the causes and treatment of autism, and to increase the knowledge base of issues surrounding autism. The amounts the MRC has spent on autism research in recent years are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: MRC spend on autism research

YearAmount (£)
2000–011,182,000(any figures for 2001–02)

I announced on 14 February 2002 that the Government have allocated an extra £2.5 million to the MRC to help them to take forward recommendations on further research contained in their report of their review of the epidemiology and causes of autism. The additional funds provide the opportunity for the MRC to accelerate research on autism, building on existing strengths and addressing gaps, which were identified in the report. It will complement and add to the MRCs current support for research in this field.

Under the section 64 General Scheme of Grants to Voluntary Organisations, the Department of Health issues funds to further its objectives in the health and social care fields in England. National Autistic Society projects, which have received funding in the last five years, are shown in Table 2.

18 Mar 2003 : Column 657W

Table 2: Section 64 Grants to the National Autistic Society

YearProjectAmount (£)
1998–99Regional Advice Service40,000
1999–2000Regional Advice Service45,000
1999–2000Asperger's Syndrome40,000
2000–01Asperger's Syndrome40,000
2001–02Asperger's Syndrome40,000
2001–02Parental Training46,000
2002–03Parental Training48,000
2002–03Independence and Autism49,000

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding he has allocated to social service departments to support those with autism and Asperger Syndrome and their carers in each of the last five years. [102931]

Jacqui Smith: Our increased investment in personal social services in England in recent years will benefit people with autism as well as everyone else who needs them. Details are set out in the table. Amounts for specific conditions are not separately identified within allocations to social services departments. Health bodies and local authorities should ensure that the particular health and social care needs of each person with autism and Asperger's Syndrome are met with genuine choices for both clients and families, through the most appropriate community based services, in a cost-effective way.

In 1999–2000, we introduced the new children's services grant, whose purpose is to help local authorities implement the Quality Protects programme and in particular to improve the life chances of looked after children and children in need. Disabled children, including those with autism, have been made a priority area in the programme.

Since the carers grant was introduced in 1999, it has provided an extra £225 million over four years to increase the number of breaks for carers. In recognition of the importance placed on supporting carers, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, announced in July 2002 that the grant has been extended for a further three years to 2005–06. During this time it will provide extended care and 130,000 further breaks to carers.

Details of the past and proposed future amounts of both grants are shown in the table.

Children's services grant
FinancialyearTotal social services expenditure (£ billion)Overall expenditure (£ million)Disabled children's element(£ million)Carer's grant (£ million)

18 Mar 2003 : Column 658W

Next Section Index Home Page