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Ms Rosie Winterton: Medical treatment which is either omitted or given to a patient with the specific intention of hastening or inducing death, whether at the patient's wish or not, is an illegal act, and is subject to a charge of murder or manslaughter. Assisted suicide is unlawful in the United Kingdom. Anyone alleged to have undertaken it would be open to penalties of up to 14 years' imprisonment under the Suicide Act 1961. As such, there is an obligation on anyone, including health professionals, to report to the police any suspicions that a crime has been committed.
The General Medical Council, The Nursing and Midwifery Council and other UK health care regulatory bodies place a requirement on health professionals to act to identify and minimise risk to patients and clients.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research into autism has been supported financially by his Department in the last 18 months; and how much money was allocated in each case. 
Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 20 October 2003]: In February 2001, the Department commissioned the Medical Research Council (MRC) to undertake a detailed review of the epidemiology and causes of autism. The MRCs report, published on 13 December 2001, outlines what scientific research has revealed about the occurrence and causes of autistic spectrum disorders, identifies gaps in knowledge and makes recommendations for the future research strategy on autism for the United Kingdom.
The MRC spent £1.25 million on autism research in 200102 and £1.3 million in 200203. In February 2002, the Department allocated £2.5 million to the MRC to help it to take forward the recommendations in the report. These funds will complement and add to the MRCs current support for research in this field. Between December 2002 and July 2003, the MRC held a series of seminars and, jointly with the National Autistic Society, the first annual autism research forum, to stimulate further high-quality research proposals from the research community.
This money will be used to further research into autism through the MRC's normal mechanism of a peer reviewed grants system. The MRC is aware that there are a number of research proposals currently being developed in this area, but it takes time to develop high quality research proposals in any area of research.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the number of cancers caused by the emission of carcinogens from petrol and diesel vehicles in the latest year for which information is available; and if he will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 21 October 2003]: The Department has not estimated the number of cancers caused by the emission of carcinogens from petrol and diesel vehicles. The number is expected to be declining as emissions of carcinogens from petrol and diesel vehicles are declining.
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Dr. Ladyman: Information on the number of local authority funded care home places in London is shown in the table for 31 March, 1997 to 2001. Figures for later years have been collected by the National Care Standards Commission, which plans to publish the national data this autumn.
|Year (31 March)||Number of places|
Department of Health form RA Part A.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 25 September 2003, Official Report, column 1268W, on care homes, what his assessment is of (a) the reasons for the drop in the number of care home places available since 1998, (b) future trends in the numbers of places available and (c) the impact this will have on (i) this sector and (ii) the NHS; and if he will make a statement. 
The decline since 1998 is a continuation of a trend that began in the mid 90s with the implementation of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990. Since then the care home market has been contracting. This trend has been reinforced by increased support for alternative models of care, such as intensive home care packages, introduced since 1997. Local councils are responsible for the commissioning of a range of care options that are made available for older and disabled people, and the availability of care home places, therefore, is a matter for local councils to determine.
The Government believe that people should be given a real choice of care options as far as possible in each locality. While the number of available care home places has decreased since 1998, in the same period there have been 20,900 more households receiving intensive home care, a 34 per cent. increase. Additionally, we are investing in extra care housing in order to offer people greater choice in the future.
Finally, the number of people aged 75 and over delayed awaiting discharge from hospital has reduced from 6,219 in September 1998 to 4,147 in September 2002 and 3,151 in June 2003. The downward trend should continue with the implementation of the Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc) Act (2003).
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 20 October 2003, Official Report, column 453W, on care homes, how many (a) nursing home and (b) residential home places
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there were in Gloucestershire in (i) 1997 and (ii) the most recent year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: The table shows the number of care places in Gloucestershire, as at 31 March 1997 to 31 March 2001. Figures for later years have been collected by the National Care Standards Commission and are not yet available.
|31 March||Residential care||Nursingcare(27)||Total|
(27) Excludes places in hospitals and clinics
(28) Data are not available
Department of Health forms RAC5, RA Part A and RH(N) Part A and KQ36.
I understand that Gloucestershire has worked very closely with all stakeholders to maintain the independence of service users. Following independent research by Laing and Buisson, which was joint funded by Gloucestershire county council, the council has made a three year commitment to allocate an additional £1 million per year towards fees over and above inflation. In the current financial year, fees have risen in some cases by 27 per cent.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average unit cost of a cataract operation at each trust within the Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority Area has been in 2003; and what the estimated average unit cost of a cataract operation to be provided by the proposed diagnostic and treatment centre for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire is. 
However, the costs shown in the table represent the national average cost in the national health service for all NHS patients treated as an inpatient or day case. These costs are collected using healthcare resource groups (HRGs), which are groups of treatments that are clinically homogeneous and have similar costs. Therefore, the treatments the HRGs contain are less specific than those listed in the question. The most up to date costs published by the Department are for the financial year 200102.
|HRG code||HRG label||Average|
|BO2||Phakoemulsification cataract extractions with lens||671|
|BO3||Other cataract extraction with lens||740|
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negotiation. However, the primary care trust will only pay the tariff figure for procedures carried out there. Value for money is one of the key concerns for the negotiators.
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