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13 Jun 2003 : Column 1119W—continued

VIP Aircraft

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the (a) lease and (b) procurement of VIP aircraft; and what aircraft fulfil this role. [117494]

Mr. Ingram: The aircraft currently used to carry VIPs are primarily those of 32 (The Royal) Squadron. Two BAe 146, five BAe 125 aircraft and three leased Twin Squirrel helicopters are used. Routinely one Royal Navy Jetstream aircraft from RNAS Yeovilton is also available. Number 32 (The Royal) Squadron is primarily established for the support of military and government communications tasks in times of crisis and

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war; the Royal Household, government ministers and senior military officers may use spare capacity during peacetime. Since the Royal Air Force ceased providing long range VIP transport in December 2001, Royal and Ministerial long range VIP transport is undertaken by civil airline charter or scheduled flight.

The Ministry of Defence has no plans to procure or lease aircraft specifically for long range VIP transport, but is looking at whether the service might be provided by the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, subject to this being cost effective. We will be examining in due course how the capability for short to medium range VIP transport will be provided when existing aircraft reach the end of their service life.

War Service Records

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when Service records of officers who served in the (a) First and (b) Second World Wars will be published. [119102]

Dr. Moonie: The majority of surviving Service records for officers who served in the First World War have already been transferred to the National Archives (The Public Record Office).

Exact details of the coverage vary according to Service, but the National Archives' website provides both details of the coverage of the material it holds and advice on requests for information from later records still with the Ministry of Defence.

The transfer of later Service records is under discussion, and they will be processed and released in accordance with data protection principles, confidentiality and privacy requirements.

West Freugh Range

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the level of continued military use of West Freugh range in Wigtownshire. [118317]

Dr. Moonie: There is a requirement for continued military use of the West Freugh range. The currently projected workload is mainly in support of two Ministry of Defence equipment programmes, which will entail trials of BL755 cluster munitions and batch acceptance testing of the High Velocity Missile. The MOD also expects to continue to use the site in support of military training and military exercises.


A National Voice

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to support the work of A National Voice following the collapse of First Key. [118909]

Jacqui Smith: I was saddened to learn of the decision by the Trustees of First Key that they had no option but to cease trading with immediate effect on 6 June. I recognise the serious consequences of this development for A National Voice (ANV), which was dependent on

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First Key for their management support. Officials from the Department will be meeting with the former managers of First Key shortly, as a first step in establishing how the charity's previous work programme on behalf of care leavers might be managed in future—this meeting will also discuss the immediate and long-term future of ANV.

The Government remain committed to the principle that one important aspect of safeguarding the welfare of children and promoting the participation of looked after children in their own care and in wider policy is support for an organisation led by care-experienced young people representing the voices of children in care and care leavers.

Ashford and St Peters NHS Trust

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the debts and overspending of the Ashford and St. Peters Hospitals NHS Trust. [117979]

Ms Blears: Ashford and St. Peter's Hospitals National Health Service Trust is aware of the duty it has to ensure that sound financial management is practiced and also the need to achieve a break-even position at the end of the financial year.

The management of the trust is a matter for the local health community managing within the context of "Shifting the Balance of Power", local partnership and agreement. The underlying deficits will be resolved by the primary care trusts and the NHS trusts within their three year plans. This will be performance managed through the local development plan, which has been formulated by the Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority.

BCG Vaccinations

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many schoolchildren have not received BCG vaccinations in the current school year because of a shortage of vaccine; and if he will make a statement. [114069]

Ms Blears: No schoolchildren should have missed out on the opportunity of receiving BCG vaccination.

There were no supplies of BCG vaccine from August to November 2002, following Evans Vaccines voluntary withdrawal of all batches of their BCG as a precautionary measure after discovering, during stability testing, that a number of batches did not comply with the requirements of their registered specifications for potency during its shelf life. This was a decision taken by the company outside of our control and was wholly unexpected.

However, district immunisation co-ordinators were asked to arrange catch-up programmes for children in their areas who may have missed out receiving their BCG immunisation once supplies were available from 25 November 2002.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list, for each of the cancer networks, the current

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average waiting time for (a) radiotherapy and (b) chemotherapy from the time of consultant referral; and if he will give comparable figures for (i) 2002, (ii) 2001 and (iii) 1997. [117397]

Ms Blears: Information on waiting times for chemotherapy and radiotherapy are not collected centrally. However, the NHS Cancer Plan set out maximum waiting time targets for first definitive cancer treatment which could include either chemotherapy or radiotherapy. From December 2001 there is a one month maximum wait from diagnosis to first treatment for breast cancer and a one month wait from urgent general practitioner referral to first treatment for children's cancers, testicular cancer and acute leukaemia. From 2002 there is a maximum two month wait from urgent referral to treatment for breast cancer. By 2005 there will be a maximum two months from urgent referral to treatment and a maximum one-month wait from diagnosis to first treatment for all cancers.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many teenagers with cancer are being treated on wards intended for use by, or classified as (a) children and (b) old people (i) in England, (ii) within each health authority and (iii) within each hospital in the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency. [118178]

Ms Blears: No statistics are available centrally which allow us to show which hospitals treat teenager cancer patients alongside children and which treat them alongside older people.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what counselling and support services are available through the NHS for teenage cancer and transplant patients. [118180]

Ms Blears: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is currently completing guidance on supportive care for people with cancer. This guidance will inform local decisions on what support services are given to teenage cancer patients and will be published in February 2004. Currently, paediatric units will usually provide counselling and support services for teenage cancer patients, based on local need.

All national health service organ transplant units are expected to provide counselling and support services for teenage transplant recipients. This ranges from educational support and general preparation for transplantation to post operative care.

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to support and promote teenage cancer units; and if he will make a statement. [118181]

Ms Blears: Primary care trusts are responsible for providing local national health service services, based on the needs and priorities of the local population. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is currently preparing service guidance for the NHS in England and Wales on child and adolescent cancers. This guidance is due to be published in February 2005 and will form the basis for the treatment of teenage cancer patients in the NHS.

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The NHS is working with the Teenage Cancer Trust throughout the United Kingdom in developing specialist units for teenagers with cancer. We are also developing the children's national service framework, which will put both children and teenagers at the centre of their health and social care, building services around their needs.

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what specific health care strategies he has set for the detection and treatment of (a) prostate, (b) lung, (c) bowel and (d) testicular cancer in men; and if he will make a statement. [118563]

Ms Blears: We are taking action in several areas to improve the detection and treatment of prostate, lung, bowel and testicular cancer:

We are determined to improve cancer services for all patients, including those with prostate, lung, bowel and testicular cancers. That is why the Cancer Plan is being backed by the biggest ever increase in funding for cancer services. Compared to 2000–01, there will be an additional £570 million a year in 2003–04.

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Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to increase awareness of cancer in men; and what specific age-groups of men are being targeted by his Department. [118564]

Ms Blears: We have increased the visibility of health messages highlighting to smokers the risks of smoking, including lung cancer. New Regulations require tobacco products to carry larger, starker health warnings on both front and back of the packet. The dangers of second hand smoke are also highlighted in some of the new warnings.

NHS smoking cessation services are well established across England. The services are available to help smokers who want to stop, with a particular emphasis on helping smokers from manual socio-economic groups. The services provide counselling and support to smokers in a variety of settings in primary or secondary care, and in the community, to complement the provision of smoking cessation aids such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and Zyban.

Regarding prostate cancer, we want men to know what their prostate gland is, what it does and what can go wrong with it, but we need to raise awareness in a responsible way. The Department has funded three projects in this area:

As part of the prostate cancer risk management programme (PCRMP), evidence-based primary care resource packs were sent to all general practitioners in England in September 2002, to aid them in counselling men who are worried about prostate cancer, ensuring the men make an informed choice about whether or not to have a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. Future public awareness programmes are a key term of reference for the newly established prostate cancer advisory group, chaired by the national cancer director. The content and target audience for these programmes will be an important consideration.

The national health service bowel cancer programme was launched in February, and has three key strands: developing a national screening programme, improving services for people with symptoms, and improving treatment. Underpinning the programme will be an expansion of the workforce and an information strategy for both the public and professionals. The national cancer director is now taking this work forward.

Testicular cancer is almost always curable if found early. The disease responds well to treatment, even if it has spread to other parts of the body. More than nine out of 10 patients are cured. Men should be aware of any unusual changes in their testicles and consult doctors early in order to ensure the maximum chance of a cure. That is why we have collaborated with Cancer Research UK in the production of a testicular self-awareness leaflet "Testicular Cancer: Spot The Symptoms Early", which is widely available.

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These different ways of raising awareness of cancer in men are aimed at the age ranges affected by these cancers. Therefore the testicular cancer leaflet is aimed at younger men, prostate and bowel cancer information is generally aimed at older men, while the smoking policies to combat lung cancer, among other diseases, is aimed at all smokers.

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many cancer care spell delays were recorded in (a) England, (b) each NHS region and (c) each strategic health authority in each of the last six years; [116942]

Ms Blears: Information is not collected centrally on cancer care spell delays. A cancer care spell delay is defined as a delay in either an out-patient appointment or treatment for suspected cancer after a referral has been received. A cancer care spell delay should be recorded locally for each delay. Information on cancer care spell delays will be used locally for performance management of cancer services.

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