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8 Dec 2003 : Column 299W—continued

Value Added Data

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to introduce value added data into secondary school performance tables for England which take account of external influences on performance, with particular reference to pupils' economic, social and cultural backgrounds. [141809]

Mr. Miliband: The publication in performance tables last year of value added measures based on the prior attainment of each pupil—by far the most important factor in explaining pupil performance—was a ground breaking step forward. It is largely thanks to that publication that value added is now generally understood by the wider educational establishment and is becoming familiar to parents. Now that those foundations have been laid, we can begin to explore more sophisticated systems of adding context to the national test and examination results by exploiting the wealth of pupil level data that are becoming available. Other contextual factors account for only a small further element, and taking them into account would make our approach to value added far more complicated. We therefore need to balance all of these considerations before deciding on the way forward for performance tables. In the meantime, we provide LEAs and schools with a wealth of benchmarking material which allows them to assess their performance and that of their pupils using tools such as the Pupil Achievement Tracker.

Young People (Mental Distress)

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what steps his Department is taking to limit (a) suicide and (b) deliberate self-harm in young people; [140654]

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Margaret Hodge: The Department for Education and Skills contributes in a number of ways to reducing suicide and deliberate self-harm among young people. This involves minimising so far as possible the risk factors that may lead to suicide or self-harm. We are doing this by ensuring that all children and young people have the support and services they need, and have a structured programme of learning opportunities through which they can develop self-awareness and confidence needed for life.

We also seek to raise awareness of these issues. In June 2001 the Department published guidance "Promoting Children's Mental Health within Early Years and School Settings". The guidance and the summary provide useful tools for local education authorities, schools and others who are striving to ensure that the mental health needs of children are met. The guidance includes specific advice on useful approaches to addressing the needs of children and young people who show deliberate self harm or suicidal behaviour. We also encouraged schools to celebrate World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

Across England, children with behavioural problems, learning difficulties and those exhibiting antisocial behaviour are receiving the greatest proportion of investment from the Children's Fund. This investment underpins the priority being given to mental health and well-being and to the gains to be made in improving self-esteem and consequentially performance at school. 21 per cent. of Children's Fund services which provided information during April-June 2003 explicitly target children with mental health problems.

The Government's proposals in the Children Bill and the other non-legislative measures in the Green Paper "Every Child Matters" will help us build on the support for young people we have already put in place through Sure Start, full service extended schools, Child and adolescent mental health services, the Connexions Service and the PSHE curriculum and anti-bullying measures in schools. Children's Trusts will provide the means to deliver of integrated, multi-agency services to all children and young people in an area. This will enable the provision of high-quality preventive measures and early interventions tailored to help individual children who may already be considering suicide or engaging in self-harm.

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance is issued through the Connexions service to (a) parents, (b) young people, (c) schools and (d) organisations working with young people on (i) suicide and (ii) deliberate self-harm in young people. [140656]

Margaret Hodge: The Connexions service does not issue specific guidance on these subjects. Suicide and deliberate self-harm are very serious issues requiring specialist advice and support. Where young people present with such issues or give cause for concern or where parents, schools or other organisations approach Connexions for guidance. Connexions will take responsibility for ensuring that they are quickly and efficiently linked up with specialist organisations who offer the necessary support and guidance. In all cases, robust child protection policies and procedures will be adhered to.

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Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what qualifications and expertise Connexions personal advisers have in dealing with young people suffering from mental distress. [140657]

Margaret Hodge: Connexions Personal Advisers are trained in an awareness of mental heath issues and in identifying young people who demonstrate behaviour which could indicate mental health disorders but they are not experts in mental health matters. Connexions Personal Advisers can access a range of specialist services for young people. They have links with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and other services that provide the specialist help on mental health problems.


Alcohol Treatment Programmes

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money has been directed towards alcohol treatment programmes by the Government in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement. [141985]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The majority of the funding for alcohol treatment is spent via the general budgets of primary care trusts and local social service departments, consistent with provision being determined following a local consideration of need. Latest estimates indicate that around £95 million is spent each year on treatment in England, and that most of this funding is provided by the Government.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Government's future plans for alcohol treatment strategies. [141986]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Government's Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England is due to be published and implemented from 2004 in accordance with the timetable set out in the NHS Plan.

This strategy will set the future direction for the development of alcohol treatment.

Ambulance Staff

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on plans to expand the (a) training, (b) qualifications and (c) skills of ambulance staff; [142397]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The latest information available about ambulance workloads is contained in the Department of Health Statistical Bulletin, "Ambulance Services, England 2002–03". A copy of the bulletin is available in the Library and on the Department's website at

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Increases in the workload have meant additional work for all grades of ambulance staff. Clinical and technological advances have extended the nature and range of pre-hospital interventions available. Front line ambulance staff—both technician and paramedic—have undergone further training and developed additional treatment skills leading to higher standards of patient care.

This has included expanding the role of paramedics to provide more out of hospital care through the administering of clot busting drugs and in some areas being based in general practitioner surgeries. New ways of working have seen ambulance services introducing community/first responder schemes in a number of areas across the country.

It is the responsibility of local trusts to determine the training needs of their staff.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which procedure is used to determine whether ambulances should be sent with a police escort when answering an emergency call. [142401]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The decision to request a police escort lies with the individual ambulance crew. Policies and procedures for the request of a police escort are agreed at a local level between the ambulance trust and its local police force.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to improve treatment facilities for ankylosing spondylitis; [140486]

Dr. Ladyman: The anti-TNF drug, Remicade (Infliximab), is licensed for ankylosing spondylitis for patients who have not responded adequately to conventional drugs. It is given by injection into a vein (intravenously) every four to eight weeks.

Infliximab for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis was referred to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in October 2003. Until NICE publishes its guidance on treatments for ankylosing spondylitis, national health service bodies are expected to continue with local arrangements for the managed introduction of new technologies where guidance from NICE is not available at the time the technology first became available. These arrangements should involve an assessment of all the available evidence. Funding for such treatments should not be withheld simply because of an absence of guidance from NICE. The anticipated date for publication of the NICE guidance is due on its website at shortly.

Information is not collected centrally on the number of patients who benefit or who might benefit from anti-TNF treatment. However, the table shows figures which relate to hospital admissions.

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Primary diagnosis (ICD-10 M45,-) Ankylosing Spondylitis—Count of finished admission episodes: NHS hospitals, England 2001–02



1. Admissions—Admissions are defined as the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. Please note that admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.

2. Diagnosis (Primary Diagnosis)—The primary diagnosis is the first of up to 14 (seven prior to 2002–03) diagnosis fields in the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data set and provides the main reason why the patient was in hospital.

3. Grossing—Figures have not (yet) been adjusted for shortfalls in data (i.e. the data are ungrossed).


Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Department of Health.

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