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Written Ministerial StatementsWednesday 14 January 2004


National Service Framework for Renal Services

The Secretary of State for Health (Dr. John Reid): I am today publishing "National Service Framework for Renal Services, Part One: Dialysis and Transplantation".

The national service framework (NSF) programme is a major part of our agenda to tackle health inequalities and to drive up standards across the National Health Service. Part one of this NSF covers dialysis and transplantation; and sets standards and identifies markers of good practice that will help the NHS, and its partners, to manage the demand for renal services, increase fairness of access, and improve choice and quality in dialysis and kidney transplantation.

This is an important part of our modernisation programme to improve renal dialysis and transplantation services over the next 10 years. The framework sets out five quality standards to provide a flexible, responsive service that provides patients with better access and choice. It identifies 30 markers of good practice drawn from national and international evidence. This NSF builds on the programme of modernisation set out in the NHS Plan and the national service frameworks for diabetes, coronary heart disease, older people, and children. It reflects the principles of empowering patients and frontline staff contained in the NHS Plan and "Shifting the Balance of Power", and of extending patient choice as set out in "Building on the Best: Choice, Responsiveness and Equity in the NHS" (Cm 6079).

This NSF complements "Saving Lives, Valuing Donors—A Transplant Framework for England" and supports our aim to increase the number of kidneys available for transplantation.

The five NSF standards for renal services set out a vision of a service that is equitable and integrated, and that provides people with the support they need to make individual choices and to manage their own condition.

The NSF for renal services sets out five steps for the NHS to take by 2006:

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In addition we will establish five modernisation programmes to support the implementation and delivery of the NSF. These programmes are to:

We will continue to work with doctors, nurses, allied healthcare professionals, NHS managers and people with renal failure to develop part two of the NSF concentrating on prevention of established renal failure, primary care and care towards the end of life.

Copies of "National Service Framework for Renal Services, Part One: Dialysis and Transplantation" have been placed in the Library.


British-Irish Council Summit (St. Fagans)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. Christopher Leslie): My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister led the UK delegation and was accompanied by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.

The Council noted the recent elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive and looked forward to the restoration of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, established under the agreement.

The main issue for discussion was indigenous, minority and lesser-used languages, and the Council has agreed a programme to take forward joint working in this area. I have placed a copy of the communiqué in the Libraries of the House.


Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO)

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears): I am announcing today that I have commissioned an end-to-end review of the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) and its business processes, including its role in the provision of information technology and communications services to the police.

PITO is a non-departmental public body established as a body corporate under the Police Act of 1997. PITO was to have been reviewed under the now superseded quinquennial arrangements. We now intend that the review will address itself primarily to an examination of how PITO delivers its organisational objectives of ICT provision to the police. Within that context the review will also examine the current structure of PITO, to determine whether it is appropriate to deliver the best possible provision of ICT to the police service and the criminal justice system.

The provision of high quality information and communications technology to the police and the criminal justice system is vital, not only to manage

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efficiency throughout the system, but also to ensure officers are better equipped to deliver front-line policing. PITO has a key role to play and the purpose of this review is to look at how well its current structure supports that objective and to make recommendations for changes if necessary.

I have asked Robert McFarland to lead the review. He has previous experience of public sector reviews, having served on the review of the Crown Prosecution Service in 1998, and having led the review of the Forensic Science Service in 2002–03.

Streets Ahead Initiative

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears): A copy of the Government's response to Streets Ahead—a report on the street crime initiative—has been placed in the House Library.

Eight Inspectorates undertook a joint inspection of the progress of the street crime initiative between October 2002 and April 2003. The resulting report—Streets Ahead—was published in July 2003. Copies of the report are also available in the House Library.

Home Detention Curfew Scheme (HDC)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Paul Goggins): I am today announcing a change to the home detention curfew scheme (HDC).

HDC has been in operation since 1999. It provides an effective and measured transition for offenders moving from custody into the community. Eligible prisoners are subject to a careful risk assessment before any decision is taken to grant them early release. Previous amendments to the scheme have balanced extensions to the period of early release with restrictions designed to maintain public confidence in the scheme as a whole. In April 2003 the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State announced an extension of HDC to a maximum of four and a half months. The extension was accompanied by the introduction of a presumption against release for prisoners convicted of certain serious offences—those which the Government consider cause the public particular concern.

Prisoners released under the HDC scheme serve the remainder of their custody period at home under electronic curfew, usually from 7pm to 7am. At present there are approximately 3,700 prisoners on electronic tag. The scheme is kept under constant review.

Public confidence in the scheme is essential. It is for this reason that the Home Secretary has already made it clear that offenders serving sentences for certain current offences and prisoners with any history of sexual offending must be considered unsuitable for release on HDC unless exceptional circumstances exist. This presumption against HDC will continue to apply.

A recent case has highlighted the fact that, in addition, there will be exceptional cases where an offender may be considered unsuitable for HDC even though he or she has not committed one of the offences which give rise to the presumption, if to grant HDC would undermine public confidence in the scheme. This will depend on the circumstances of the particular case.

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The Home Secretary has decided that such exceptional cases should be referred to the Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service who will take the decision whether or not to grant HDC.


Urban Bus Challenge 2003

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tony McNulty): I am pleased to announce today the results of the 2003 urban bus challenge competition. A total of £20 million has been awarded to 25 local authorities for 40 schemes which will provide improved local transport in deprived urban areas. This announcement brings to over £53 million the sum awarded under the urban bus challenge scheme, supporting a total of 106 projects. A list of the 2003 awards has been placed in the Library of the House.

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