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13 Jun 2003 : Column 1125W—continued

Cardiac Services

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are being taken to assess the extent to which NICE's recommendations on implantable cardioverter defibrillators have been implemented. [R] [118523]

Ms Blears: The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) have agreed a methodology for CHI to incorporate the monitoring of NICE guidance in its clinical governance reviews. This is to ensure that national health service trusts have mechanisms in place to implement and comply with NICE guidance.

Children's Hospices

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will issue guidance to clarify how children's hospices are eligible to apply for grants under the local council administered carer's special grant and the qualified projects programme; [117643]

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Ms Blears: Guidance on eligibility for accessing the quality protects (QP) programme funding has been issued and is available on the Department's website at 6.htm . For the Carers Grant funding, guidance is available on the Government carers website which explains that 20 per cent. is available for children's services.

Disabled children are a priority area in the QP programme. From 2001–02 to 2003–04 £60 million for the children's services special grant has been earmarked for services for disabled children and their families, with £15 million in 2001–02 and 2002–03 and £30 million in 2003–04. One of the areas local authorities have been told that expenditure should be targeted on is increased provision of family support services including short term breaks.

Last year's QP management action plans show that authorities are beginning to improve the services they provide to disabled children. More family support services are being provided, particularly home based respite care and sitting services. Many are developing proposals in collaboration with partners from other agencies and sectors, such as the national health service and voluntary sector.

The Department of Health does not collect centrally information on children's hospice bed numbers nor do we monitor which service providers local authorities consider or use to provide short term breaks. Local councils may use other service providers than hospices (sitting services, residential homes) and they may fund opportunities for families with disabled children to go on holiday together.

The Department does not give advice and guidance to primary care trusts on the levels of Government funding that should be made available to adult and children's hospices. Primary care trusts have a pivotal role in assessing the extent of health care needs within their catchment area and funding service provision, including adult hospice and children's hospice services. The level of funding agreed is a matter for local discussion and decision.

A central budget of an additional £50 million per annum for adult specialist palliative care, including hospices, has been set up for the three years beginning 2003–04. This funding is specifically to meet the commitments and aims set out in the NHS Cancer Plan. The extra £50 million represents an increase of about 38 per cent. in the amount of NHS funding being put into adult specialist palliative care over 2000 levels and means that the pledge in the NHS Cancer Plan will be more than met. Allocation from this £50 million to local cancer networks will be made once network investment plans have been approved by the joint NHS/voluntary sector group, the National Partnership Group. The current NHS funding levels for adult hospices average 28 per cent. of running costs, although this varies across the country.

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I understand the Association of Children's Hospices has estimated that the contribution made by the NHS to children's hospices varies significantly between hospices but averages about 5 per cent. Little Haven children's hospice receives about 3 per cent. of its funding from the NHS.

Children's hospices are a very distinct and emerging area of provision for children with life threatening illness. It is therefore important that hospices engage as much as possible with the NHS, in particular with primary care trusts which are responsible for commissioning services, including services for children with life threatening illnesses.

I appreciate there may be a need for some pump priming funding to demonstrate the range and quality of care that children's hospices can provide. I am therefore pleased that the New Opportunities Fund has provided £48 million in support of palliative care projects for children in England—from which I understand the Little Haven children's hospice has received £650,000.

The Fund is supporting existing good quality hospice services and will help to develop more. At the end of the three year New Opportunity Fund funding period we shall have in place a better strategic fit for services in support of children with life threatening illnesses, and one which will further inform service and funding considerations.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government is taking to improve facilities for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome; and if he will make a statement. [119390]

Jacqui Smith: In our response to the independent working group's report on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) in January 2002 we endorsed their view that there should be no doubt this is a chronic illness and that health and social care professionals should recognise it as such.

On 12 May we announced that funding of £8.5 million would be provided 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 asked the Medical Research Council to develop a research strategy for advancing biomedical and health services research on CFS/ME.

The MRC published their research strategy for CFS/ME on 1 May. 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

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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 May 2003 the MRC announced funding 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.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in the UK have died of CJD since the disease was first identified; and how many have been (a) cremated and (b) buried. [113393]

Ms Blears: Since 1970, when comprehensive records were first kept, 1,277 people have died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in the United Kingdom. Of this total, 130 deaths have been attributed to definite or probable variant CJD, the form of the disease thought to be linked to BSE.

The Department does not collect information on how many people with CJD have been either cremated or buried.

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