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9 Sept 2003 : Column 331W—continued

Laser Eye Surgery

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations have been received by his Department from (a) the Medical Protection Society and (b) the Royal College of Ophthalmologists on (i) guidance for and (ii) regulation of individuals involved in the provision of laser eye surgery. [128676]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department of Health has not received any representations from either the Medical Protection Society or the Royal College of Ophthalmologists concerning guidance and regulation in the provision of laser eye surgery. We are, however, aware that there are concerns regarding laser surgery.

Laser eye surgery in England is regulated by the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC). Providers of laser eye surgery are required to be registered with the NCSC and to comply with national minimum standards set by them. Providers must keep records for the NCSC of each surgical procedure undertaken, including accidents or adverse events. They are also subject to annual inspections by the NCSC.

The NCSC is currently monitoring development in the area of laser eye surgery and should any evidence emerge that further regulation of this procedure is required, it would be considered in order to further protect service users.

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Mental Health

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations he has received on the need for a Mental Incapacity Bill; and if he will make a statement; [128316]

Ms Rosie Winterton: A draft Mental Incapacity Bill was published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs on 27 June. It is currently subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament. Letters received in the Department of Health about the draft Bill are being fed into the scrutiny process.

The need for a Bill on Mental Incapacity was raised by many who responded to consultation on the draft Mental Health Bill, which was published in June 2002. The draft Mental Incapacity Bill aims to provide a better decision-making framework for people who are unable to make some decisions for themselves and those that care for them. The Department of Health is working closely with colleagues in the Department for Constitutional Affairs to make sure that the Bill addresses the needs of all vulnerable adults, including people with dementia and those who look after them, whether informal carers or professionals in health or social care services.

David Kelly

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when over the past two years Mr. David Kelly has met Mr. Andrew Gilligan of the BBC. [126330]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 17 July 2003]: I have been asked to reply.

My hon. Friend will understand why it was not possible to answer this question on the day named. These matters are now being addressed by Lord Hutton's inquiry.

The information requested has been passed to the inquiry. Lord Hutton will publish his report in due course. I am therefore withholding the information under Exemption 4a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what average length of time patients in each health authority had to wait for radiotherapy cancer treatment in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02. [127522]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Information on waiting times for radiotherapy is not collected centrally. However, the NHS Cancer Plan sets out maximum waiting time

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targets for first definitive cancer treatment, which includes radiotherapy when it is the first treatment. 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.

In order to tackle radiotherapy waiting times, we have increased the number of radiographers in post by 9.2 per cent. and numbers in training by 55 per cent. since 1977. We are making better use of existing staff by establishing new roles for radiographers, which

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can open up new career opportunities and improve retention. We are also making unprecedented investment in new radiotherapy facilities, with 61 new and replacement linear accelerators delivered to the national health service since April 2000. In addition, we are streamlining the patient's route to treatment through the Cancer Services Collaborative.

Waiting Lists/Times

Mr. Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients have waited more than (a) three months, (b) six months, (c) nine months and (d) 12 months for elective admissions in each year since 1997. [112978]

Mr. Hutton: The table shows the length of time a patient waited for an elective finished in-year admission from 1997–98 to 2001–02, which is the latest year for which figures are available.

Elective Finished In-Year Admissions, Waiting List and Booked Cases: Finished Consultant Episodes—NHS Hospitals England, 1997–98 to 2001–02

Length of time patient waited1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–02
More than 3 months1,134,4911,307,3711,147,5511,133,8241,155,138
More than 6 months601,994723,520592,752587,714604,109
More than 9 months356,778445,320349,472343,787354,641
More than 12 months183,506245,884189,565186,096188,023


Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Department of Health

There is a clear pattern of significant reduction demonstrated in the waiting time information at the end of March 2003. Across all the time bands there have been significant reductions in the number of patients waiting compared to March 1997. This reduction is most apparent in the number of over 12 month waiters, where a total of only 103 patients were waiting at the end of March 2003.
Source: Department of Health form QF01 Notes: A finished consultant episode is defined as a period of patient care under one consultant in one health care provider. The figures do not represent the number of patients, as one person may have several episodes within the year. Figures in this table have not yet been adjusted for shortfalls in data. Waiting time statistics from HES are not the same as the published waiting list statistics. HES provides counts and waiting times for all patients admitted to hospital within a given period whereas the published waiting list statistics count those waiting for treatment at a given point in time and how long they have been on the waiting list. Also, HES calculates the waiting time as the difference between the admission and decision to admit dates. Unlike published waiting list statistics, this is not adjusted for self-deferrals or periods of medical/social suspension.

Written Questions

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he has taken to improve procedures for answering written parliamentary questions by his Department since 1st April 2002. [127490]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Significant changes have been made to these procedures within the Department since 1 April 2002. The parliamentary section responsible for overseeing them has been substantially reorganised and a new database has been introduced to help drive and monitor the process. This was immediately made available to all departmental staff; its predecessor having been solely for use by the parliamentary section. It records each stage of the answering procedure, provides a transparent means of checking precisely where a question is in the process and helps to identify and clear blockages in the system.


Olympic Games

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions her Department has had to ensure that sufficient hotel accommodation will be available for visitors to the capital, should the Olympic Games be held in London in 2012. [128653]

Tessa Jowell: The assessment of the cost and benefit implications of bidding for and staging the Olympics and Paralympic Games in London in 2012 undertaken by Arup in May 2003 estimated the average daily room requirement during an Olympic Games as between 80,000 and 145,000. Drawing on London Tourist Board figures, Arup also projected up to 200,000 rooms in hotels/guest houses as potentially available within International Olympic Committee (IOC) visitor travel time requirements of one hour.

Detailed information on accommodation is required by the IOC for the applicant city questionnaire, and London 2012 Ltd., the company set up to prepare the Olympic bid, will be undertaking further work to verify and refine these figures over the coming months.

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Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her estimate is of the total cost of a London Olympic Games; and how it is proposed that it will be financed, broken down by source in each year. [128086]

Tessa Jowell: The consultants Arup estimated the costs of a London Olympics at £3.6 billion with expected revenues of £2.5 billion. This implied a net public subsidy of £1.1 billion. The Government and the Mayor have agreed a funding package of up to £2.375 billion, allowing a generous contingency, including up to £1.5 billion from the lottery and up to £625 million from a London Olympics Council Tax. As is explained in the Memorandum of Understanding, which was included in the Government response to the Select Committee Report, "A London Olympic Bid for 2012" (HC 268), ref. Cm 5867:

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her estimate is of the total change in money available to existing good causes as a result of the establishment of special Olympic lottery games. [128087]

Tessa Jowell: Preliminary estimates provided by Camelot, and assessed by the National Lottery Commission, suggest that any reduction of income to the existing good causes from Olympic lottery games would be small—approximately 4 per cent. for the remainder of the Camelot licence period (until 2009). Each game will be subject to approval by the NLC, and in designing the games, Camelot will seek to minimise the effect on the core lottery games.

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