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7 Sept 2004 : Column 1067W—continued

Venezuela

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with (a) the Venezuelan Government, (b) international aid organisations and (c) others in the months which followed the 1999 Caracas floods; what support the British Government offered to (i) the Venezuelan Government and (ii) international aid organisations who were working there; and if he will make a statement. [186413]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: I have been asked to reply.

Following close liaison with the British embassy in Caracas and key operational partners in the field, DFID initially provided 500,000 to Venezuela following the floods in December 1999. This was used to support the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Red Cross. The funds went towards providing emergency assistance for those affected and initiating long-term rehabilitation for up to 10,000 families.

The right hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, Mr George Foulkes, the then DFID Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, later held detailed discussions with the Venezuelan ambassador about DFID's role in providing assistance to the people of Venezuela. DFID also deployed experts to liaise with Venezuelan authorities and humanitarian organisations to identify priority needs. We then provided a further £300,000 in January 2000 to WHO (to expand their programme), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (to fund two disaster management specialists) and the Red Cross (to ensure continuity of relief assistance towards the full-scale recovery process).

Visiting Heads of State

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which heads of state have made visits to the UK over the past five years. [186882]

Mr. Mullin: I have placed a copy of a list from our records of Heads of State who have visited the UK in an official capacity since 1999 in the Library of the House. In addition the Queen has received some other Heads of State during the course of private visits to this country.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which heads of state plan to make visits to the UK over the next five years. [186883]


 
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Mr. Mullin: President Chirac of France is expected to visit the United Kingdom in the autumn and the President of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Roh Moo-hyun, accompanied by Mrs. Roh Moo-hyun, will pay a state visit to the United Kingdom in December.

President Klaus of the Czech Republic arrived in London on 6 September for a two-day visit, and President Iliescu of Romania will arrive on 7 September for a three-day visit. Both are visiting as guests of Her Majesty's Government.

In most cases, guest of Government visits by Heads of State are planned only six to eight weeks in advance, sometimes less. For this reason I cannot predict which other Heads of State will visit during the next five years.

There are normally two inward state visits per year, one in the spring and one in the autumn. The forward programme of state visits for 2005, and subsequent years has not been finalised.

HEALTH

Family Courts

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what remit has been agreed for the review of the use of expert evidence in the family courts; who will be invited to submit evidence to the review; whether it is his intention to publish all submissions to the review; and when he will publish the findings of the review. [185416]

Dr. Ladyman: The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) will take forward a programme of work to examine and make recommendations on how best to ensure the availability and quality of medical expert resources to the family courts. The terms of reference are:

The work will involve a wide range of interests, including judicial, legal, clinical specialities, scientific, statistical and consumer groups, as well as health regulatory bodies.

Consideration will be given to the appropriateness of publishing individual submissions.

Advocacy (Older People)

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will introduce an independent advocacy service for vulnerable older people. [186458]

Dr. Ladyman: There are no plans to introduce an independent advocacy service for older people. The government encourages local authorities to use and support local advocacy schemes, or set up their own to meet specific identified need.
 
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Annual Health Check (Pensioners)

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce an annual health check for pensioners. [186961]

Dr. Ladyman: General medical practitioners must provide an annual health check to any patient aged 75 and over who requests it and who has not had a consultation within the last 12 months.

We have no plans to introduce an annual health check for all pensioners.

Bed Occupancy Rates

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the bed occupancy rates were for (a) each NHS hospital trust in England and (b) England in each year since 1991. [186513]

Mr. Hutton: Information on beds is collected on a provider basis from national health service organisations and the latest data available is for the year 2002–03. Beds data for 2003–04 is due to be published later this year.

The table shows the average occupancy rate for England between 1996–97 and 2002–03. Prior to 1996–97, bed occupancy data was not collected on the bed availability return.

Bed occupancy data from 1996–97 to 1999–2000 are available in the Library and from the Department's website from 2000–01 to 2002–03 at www.performance. doh.gov.uk/hospitalactivity/index.htm.
Average occupancy rate, calculated using the average daily number of available and occupied beds in wards open overnight, England, 1996–97 to 2002–03
Percentage occupancy

All specialtiesGeneral and acute
1996–9781.380.8
1997–9880.980.5
1998–9982.582.5
1999–200082.783.1
2000–0184.084.7
2001–0285.186.0
2002–0385.486.5




Source:
Department of Health from KH03.



Cancer (NICE Guidelines)

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what impact he expects the revised National Institute for Clinical Excellence Referral Guidelines for Suspected Cancer will have on postgraduate general practitioner training. [185851]

Mr. Hutton: Government does not specify the content of the general practitioner training curriculum. This is the job of the joint committee on postgraduate training for general practice (JCPTGP), which is the competent authority for general practice training in the United Kingdom. The JCPTGP is an independent body and it is required by section 9(3) of the Vocational Training Regulations 1997 to determine and publish the curriculum to be followed by a GP registrar (a trainee GP).
 
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The Regulations do specify seven competencies which must be tested, and which the curriculum must therefore teach:

It is, therefore, the responsibility of the JCPTGP to assess the impact of the revised National Institute for Clinical Excellence referral guidelines for suspected cancer and adapt postgraduate general practitioner training accordingly.


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