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4 Feb 2004 : Column 937W—continued


Accident and Emergency Departments

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average waiting time was for treatment in each of Northern Ireland's accident and emergency departments in each month of the last year for which figures are available; and what steps he is taking to reduce these figures. [151320]

Angela Smith: The information requested is not collected centrally.

In order to relieve pressure on hospital accident and emergency departments, Boards and Trusts are providing a range of additional services during the winter months, including extra community care provision, which helps to reduce demand on hospital services. Additional support is also being provided in primary care, where a flu vaccination programme has been running, which is targeted at over-65s and those at risk. Work will also be taken forward in all acute hospitals during 2004–05 on improving the flow of emergency patients.

Acquired Brain Injury

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people suffered a traumatic head injury in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. [152420]

Angela Smith: Traumatic head injuries cover a broad spectrum of severity of injury including those who do not present at hospital, those who attend Accident and Emergency Departments but are not admitted, those who are admitted for treatment and those who die before reaching hospital. Information is available only on those admitted to hospital. The table as follows provides figures on the number of admissions to hospital in Northern Ireland where the primary diagnosis is for head injury and, of these, the number of admissions where the primary diagnoses are fractures to the skull or facial bones or intracranial injuries. Information is provided for the last five years for which data are available.

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Total number of Admissions to Hospital(9) with injuries to the head for the years 1998–1999 to 2002–2003

YearsAll head injuriesSkull fracture or intracranial injury

(9) Deaths and Discharges are used as an approximation for Admissions


Hospital Inpatients System

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reason the Department for Employment and Learning decided to provide no further funding to the ReConnect training facility for people with acquired brain injury. [152421]

Jane Kennedy: In December 2003, the Department for Employment and Learning advised ReConnect that its application for ESF assistance, under the second round of applications for the Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity, was unsuccessful.

The Department runs an open competition for such funding. On this, as in the previous round, there were more acceptable projects than budget available to meet their bids. Applications are scored, by selection panels, against the requirements of the Programme's measures and the funding available is allocated to those which score highest. The ReConnect application did not score highly enough to receive an allocation.

Unsuccessful bidders have a right of review, for which the closing date was 30 January 2004. A request for review has been received from this project, which is due to be heard in early February 2004.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total expenditure has been on providing community-based training and rehabilitation for people with acquired brain injury in Northern Ireland by (a) the Department for Employment and Learning and (b) the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. [152422]

Jane Kennedy: The information is as follows:

(a) Department for Employment and Learning (DEL)

In the last eight years, ERDF and ESF assistance of £5.1 million and DEL match funding of £520,000 has been paid to two organisations providing community-based training where participants have included people with acquired brain injury.

It is not possible to disaggregate the share of funding which might be attributed to the number of participants with acquired brain injury.

(b) Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

The information is not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Ards Hospital

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to broaden the range of services offered on the Ards Hospital site. [150737]

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Angela Smith: The Ulster Community and Hospital HSS Trust is currently developing plans to redevelop the Ards Hospital site. The Trust's proposals include the provision of modern Local Health and Social Care facilities, which will consider a range of services, including Primary Care Services, Mental Health Services, Children's Services including Community Paediatric and Family and Child Care Services, In-Patient, Out-Patient and Diagnostic Services.

The Trust is also presently undertaking a review of the Community Hospital Services currently provided on the Ards Hospital site and when this review is completed in the Spring of this year, a decision will be taken on the final configuration of these services.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to extend the opening hours of the minor injuries units at (a) Bangor and (b) Ards Community Hospitals. [150739]

Angela Smith: The Ulster Community and Hospitals HSS Trust is presently engaged in a review of its Community Hospital Services. This review will be considering the relationship between Emergency Services at the Ulster Hospital and Minor Injuries provision located at Ards and Bangor Community Hospitals.

I understand that the review will be completed in the spring of this year, and a decision will then be made on the proposed configuration of services at Bangor and Ards Community Hospitals, which may include the extension of opening hours for Minor Injury Services within the Trust.

Civil Service

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to resolve the Northern Ireland Civil Service pay dispute; and if he will make a statement. [152442]

Mr. Pearson: Extensive negotiations over several months did not result in an agreed pay deal for the 11 Departments of the Northern Ireland Administration this year. Management side presented an offer worth 3.67 per cent. on 5 November. As this could not be agreed, and Trade Union side declined to negotiate within the 3.67 per cent. envelope. We took the decision to proceed to pay the award and communicated this to staff and Trade Union side on 27 November. I have made clear to Trade Union side that the 3.67 per cent. deal is the maximum that can be paid. We are, however, open to exploring other reasonable means of resolving the dispute. A meeting of the Central Whitley Council between Trade Union and Management sides took place on 29 January 2004, and we are considering the points discussed then.

Members of the Northern Ireland Civil Service working in the Northern Ireland Office are subject to separate pay negotiations involving three Unions: Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, Public and Commercial Services and the First Division Association.

A formal offer of 3 per cent. has been made to the Unions.

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Community Support Programme

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his assessment is of the Community Support Programme in Northern Ireland. [152583]

Mr. Spellar: The Community Support Programme is an important collaborative initiative between the Department for Social Development and all 26 district councils aimed at developing a core local community infrastructure across Northern Ireland. This infrastructure supports the delivery of a number of important Government programmes, such as Neighbourhood Renewal and Investing in Health, which aim to tackle the root causes of deprivation and social exclusion, as well as other Government objectives around poverty through the provision of funding for frontline advice and information agencies, such as Citizens' Advice Bureaux and Independent Advice Centres.

The work of the Community Support Programme has been strengthened by the implementation of the recommendations of the policy document "Beyond the Centre", published in 2000, which provide a clearer focus on people-centred community development and on targeting social need. On the basis of "Beyond the Centre", all 26 councils are developing integrated community support plans for their respective areas based on an assessment and prioritisation of need.

On the basis of numerous examples of good practice arising from this work, the Community Support Programme now has significant opportunities for growth and development, both as a means for better integrating the current multiplicity of local funding streams and as a more robust model for social investment by Government.

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