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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what improvements he expects choice in the NHS will have for deaf people (a) in arranging an appointment and (b) in communicating with their doctor. 
Dr. Ladyman: "Building on the Best: Choice", Responsiveness and Equity in the NHS draws out the main themes that emerged from our recent consultation on what changes would do most to improve the experience of health care for patients, users and carers. Building on the Best confirms that the commitment in the NHS Plan for a national interpreting and translation service has been initiated by NHS Direct. The interpretation component will include a requirement to provide services for people who use British Sign Language. Over time, this contract will be available to help deaf people arrange appointments and communicate with their doctors.
The national framework agreement awarded to David Ormerod Hearing Centres and Ultravox Holdings plc in October 2003 will provide a service to patients on the same basis as the national health service, which remains responsible for the patients' care. It has so far involved sites in Shrewsbury, Leeds, Bradford, Bath, Bournemouth and East Cheshire. This partnership agreement is now being rolled out nationally.
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Miss Melanie Johnson: Department of Health-funded research completed last year recognised that, while a causative link between early cannabis use and later development of schizophrenia and depression is not conclusively proven, recent epidemiological research has shown a stronger association than was previously evident. Although we have not commissioned further specific research into cannabis and schizophrenia, the Department monitors research is this area and has a range of expert advisers to inform policy.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department has taken to improve the understanding among health professionals of the symptoms and effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: On 22 February 2002, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Professor Sir Liam Donaldson and the Chief Nursing Officer, Sarah Mullally, published an updated letter, "Carbon Monoxide: the forgotten Killer". The letter pulled together the most current information available on carbon monoxide and was forwarded to community nurses, midwives, health visitors and general practitioners, professionals who are most likely to be aware of patients' living conditions and so identify those at increased risk. This letter was originally published on 7 September 1998.
Similarly, the quarterly "CMO Update" has included several reminders to GPs on the importance of diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning since 1998. Officials also issued a video in March 2002, prepared for the Health and Safety Executive, to all GP surgeries. The video highlights the main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as advising GPs on how to diagnose possible cases of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether it is appropriate for an independent review panel to take into account, in making their decisions on health care funding for people living in care homes, (a) the job status of the carers and (b) the classification of the home in which the care is received. 
Dr. Ladyman: Eligibility for fully funded national health service continuing care is decided upon the patient's needs. When considering eligibility for fully funded NHS continuing care, and during any reviews of such decisions, the job status of any carers should make no difference to the decision. The care the patient receives and the setting in which it is provided should be based entirely on the patient's needs.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review the eligibility criteria of Essex Strategic Health Authority for health care funding for people living in residential care homes. 
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Dr. Ladyman: Establishing and reviewing eligibility criteria for national health service fully funded continuing care is a responsibility of the strategic health authority, which will have taken legal advice when establishing the criteria.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the forthcoming EU Chemical Regulation; and if he will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department has been consulted on the Government Position Statement on the new European Union chemicals strategy that was published in December 2002 and on the Government's response to the European Commission's internet consultation on the workability of its draft proposal in June last year.
Miss Melanie Johnson: We are not aware of any peer-reviewed or clinical trial evidence that colloidal silver is an effective treatment for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or other hospital-acquired infections. Colloidal silver has antibacterial properties, but it is not used as an alternative to antibiotics because of its toxicity when taken internally.
Dr. Ladyman: Performance targets for the delayed discharge of patients aged 75 years and over occupying an acute bed have been set on an annual basis, rather than a quarterly target, since 200001. Each of these targets was set out in the relevant year's Planning and Priorities Framework, published by the Department of Health.
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|Quarter||Number of patients|
(1) No date
Reliable data was not available for over 75s for this quarter, because of structural changes resulting from Shifting the Balance of Power. The figure for all adults was 4,924.
Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment his Department has made of the benefits of relocation of staff to North Staffordshire; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what assessment his Department has made of the effect of possible relocation of staff in his Department to North Staffordshire on (a) job creation, (b) sustainable development, (c) the local economy and (d) tackling regional economic disparities; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what plans he has to establish procedures for assessing the impact of possible relocation of staff in the Department to his regions; and if he will make a statement. 
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