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9 Jun 2003 : Column 686W—continued

Fostered Children

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on Government plans to oblige children who are being fostered to attend school; [116802]

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Jacqui Smith: The information sought is not available centrally. However, data on exclusions among children looked after by local authorities, up to year ending 2002 are in the table. As 'corporate parents' the local authority is responsible for ensuring the attendance at school of looked after children. The local education authority and social services must draw up a personal education plan for every looked after child. This should reflect the emotional and behavioural needs of the child as well as their achievements at school and provide a record of their attendance.

Number of children looked after at 30 September 2000 and 2001 who had been looked after for at least 12 months, and number of permanent exclusions from school.

Number Percentages(24)
2000 200120002001
Number of children looked after at 30 September who had been looked after for at least twelve months42,200 43,400
and of these:
Number eligible for full-time schooling33,100 33,800
and of these:
Number of permanent exclusions from school(25)4904501.5 1.3

(24) Expressed as a percentage of the number eligible for full-time schooling

(25) If a child was permanently excluded more than once in the previous school year, each occasion has been counted.


Hospital Food

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what additional resources his Department has given to (a) strategic health authorities, (b) primary care trusts and (c) NHS trusts to implement phase II of the Better Hospital Food Programme. [116861]

Mr. Lammy: An additional £6 million has been allocated for improvements to food services in 2003–04, and details on allocation of resources are currently under consideration.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what targets his Department has set under phase II of the Better Hospital Food Programme for the (a) quality and (b) availability of drinks at ward level; and how improvements will be monitored; [116862]

Mr. Lammy: No new targets have been set under phase II of the Better Hospital Food programme.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how his Department will assess the way the NHS buys its food to ensure that NHS trusts are getting the right kind of quality for the very best price, as set out in phase II of the Better Hospital Food Programme. [116864]

Mr. Lammy: NHS Estates, in conjunction with the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, will examine key aspects of commercial food procurement and logistics

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systems to assess what lessons can be learned and transferred to the national health service with the aim of reducing costs and improving quality wherever possible.

Legal Action

Mr. Pollard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on NHS trusts suing employees following legal action in which the trust accepted liability for the actions of those employees; if he will require NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts not to take such action; and if he will make a statement on the position of the National Health Service Litigation Authority with regard to this. [116840]

Mr. Lammy: Guidance has been issued to the national health service concerning arrangements for handling clinical negligence claims against NHS staff, NHS Indemnity—Arrangements for Handling Clinical Negligence Claims Against NHS Staff, HSG(96)48. The guidance contains an express provision against NHS bodies seeking to recover any proportion of the costs incurred in settling clinical negligence claims from health care professionals or others covered by NHS Indemnity:


Subject to Parliamentary approval, the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill will provide for NHS foundation trusts to have access to schemes administered by the NHS Litigation Authority on the same basis as NHS trusts.

LIFT Scheme

Janet Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the budget is of the LIFT scheme in East Lancashire in (a) 2002–03, (b) 2003–04 and (c) 2004–05; and whether this funding is time- limited. [116130]

Jacqui Smith: The Department of Health has provided enabling funds amounting to £7.7 million in East Lancashire.

The local investment finance trust (LIFT) schemes have also required project management and administration support. This is a total one-off cost of around £288,000, to be spent over 2002–03 and 2003–04.

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the budget is of the LIFT scheme in North West Lancashire in (a) 2003–04 and (b) 2004–05; and whether this funding is time-limited. [116448]

Jacqui Smith: Currently, there is no local investment finance trust (LIFT) scheme in operation in North West Lancashire.

Long-term Care

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 21 May 2003, Official Report, columns 855–56W, on long-term care, how much his Department has allocated to publicise the need for

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individuals to assess whether they or a relative failed to be given continuing care between 1996 and 2003, as set out in HC399. [116857]

Jacqui Smith: All strategic health authorities will be taking reasonable steps to ensure their local population is aware that a review is taking place. No additional Departmental resources have been allocated for this exercise.

Maternity Services

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance he has issued to hospital maternity departments to enable women to give birth in positions other than lying down; [114727]

Jacqui Smith: The Department of Health has issued no specific guidance to hospital maternity departments on birthing positions and no such assessment has been made of caesarean section deliveries. The safety of the woman is paramount and all decisions about the birth, including positions during labour, should be decided by the woman in consultation with her midwife or doctor.

We have recently given maternity units an extra £100 million to improve maternity unit environments. Some of these improvements will include additional privacy, space or equipment to facilitate a variety of birthing positions.

ME

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department gives to the NHS about the treatment of ME. [117202]

Jacqui Smith: We have issued no guidance to the National Health Service on the treatment of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME).

We are, however, taking steps to improve services for patients with this condition. On 12 May, we announced funding of £8.5 million that will be used to develop services for people with CFS/ME. In July, health organisations will be invited to bid for development funds to set up centres of expertise to develop clinical care, support clinical research and expand education and training programmes for health care professionals and to establish satellite community multidisciplinary teams. The first phase of development will commence in April 2004. We have issued no guidance to hospital trusts and Primary Care Trusts on the provision of services to patients with CFS/ME.

The main Government agency for research into the causes and treatment of disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC), which receives its funding from the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology. The MRC published a research strategy for CFS/ME on 1 May.

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The strategy will enable researchers and funders to develop research proposals on all aspects of this illness. It was developed by an independent research advisory group in response to a request from the Chief Medical Officer and was informed by contributions from patients, carers, charities, researchers and clinicians via a consultation exercise in summer 2002.

The MRC has announced two initiatives in response to the strategy. One is a notice to the research community welcoming high quality proposals across the entire spectrum of CFS/ME research. The other is a scientific meeting to discuss the potential to use existing UK resources and infrastructures to undertake epidemiological studies in this country. In addition, the MRC announced funding, on 15 May 2003, for two trials that will look at the effectiveness of various treatments for CFS/ME. The results of these trials will help patients and their doctors to choose the best treatment. These complementary trials will assess a variety of treatments and in doing so will both help address important issues for those with CFS/ME.

The first trial known as PACE (Pacing, Activity and Cognitive behaviour therapy: a randomised Evaluation) will make the first assessment of a treatment choice popular with patients called 'Pacing'. The second trial, known as FINE, (Fatigue Intervention by Nurses Evaluation) will test two different treatments that are particularly suited to helping reach those who are too ill to attend a specialist clinic as patients will be treated by nurses in their own homes.


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