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15 Sept 2004 : Column 1644W—continued

Home Deliveries

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what care an NHS trust is required to provide to women wishing to have a home birth. [186115]

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Dr. Ladyman: If a National Health Service trust provides a home birth service, it should ensure that suitably skilled midwives are available to attend the woman and to provide care and support throughout the labour and birth. Appropriate transfer arrangements should also be in place in case the woman or baby needs specialist medical care.

Hospital Infections/MRSA

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when Towards cleaner hospitals and lower rates of infection: A summary of action was commissioned; when it was signed off and ready for publication; and when it was decided to publish it. [185798]

Miss Melanie Johnson: We have an ongoing programme of work on infection control and hospital cleanliness, informed by advice from the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Chief Nursing Officer, which has produced publications such as the CMO's Getting Ahead of the Curve and Winning Ways. A summation of this work was commissioned by the Secretary of State on 1 July 2004 to improve public understanding of what was being done. The Secretary of State approved a final text of Towards Cleaner Hospitals and Lower Infection Rates on 9 July 2004 and the document was published and posted on the Department's website on 12 July 2004.

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to ensure that the same (a) methods and (b) criteria are used to detect MRSA in all acute hospitals and in each department within those hospitals. [187065]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The detection and identification of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in samples is set out in the Bacteriology Standard Operating Procedures (BSOP) issued by the Health Protection Agency. All National Health Service laboratories accredited by Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK) must have in place standard operating procedures that are based on, or give equivalent results to these BSOP Standards.

Patients who develop infection will have samples taken as part of their clinical care but trusts will also carryout screening for MRSA infection and colonisation. The NHS is recommended to use the report of a working party of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the Hospital Infection Society, and the Infection Control Nurses Association, published in 1998. This gives guidance on which patients should be screened for infection or colonisation by MRSA but policies will need to take account of local circumstances.

Infant Mortality

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 1 July 2004, Official Report, column 409W, on infant mortality, if he will set out (a) the baseline for the target to reduce the gap by 10 per cent. by 2010, (b) what the gap should be in 2010 if the target is met and (c) the current size of the gap between routine and manual groups and the population as a whole. [187853]

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Dr. Ladyman: The baseline is the average of the three years 1997–99. In the baseline period, the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births among routine and manual groups was 13 per cent. higher than the overall rate in all social groups (6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births compared with 5.6). I would underline that the target is to reduce the gap by at least 10 per cent. For the target to be met, in 2010 the infant mortality rate among the routine and manual group will be at most 11.7 per cent. higher than in all social groups. On the latest available data, 2000–02, the infant mortality rate among the routine and manual group was 16 per cent. higher than in all social groups.

1. Social groups are as defined in the National Statistics socio-economic classification.

Mental Health

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will outline his Department's plans for the "Mind Out for Mental Health" campaign; what evaluation has been made of it; and how much has been spent on it. [187859]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The "Mind out for Mental Health" campaign ended on 31 March 2004. In June, we announced a new five-year strategic plan to tackle stigma and discrimination on mental health grounds, which will build on the work of the "Mind out for Mental Health" campaign and will be formally launched on World Mental Health Day, 10 October.

The "Mind out for Mental Health" campaign was evaluated twice: at the end of 2001–02 and 2002–03. Additional research was carried out on "Read the Signs", a strand of the campaign specifically targeted at young people. Copies of the evaluation reports have been placed in the Library.

A total of £3,473,000 was spent on the campaign since its launch in March 2001.

Myasthenia Gravis

Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will increase the numbers of consultants and nurses qualified to diagnose and treat myasthenia gravis. [188270]

Mr. Hutton: Information on the number of consultants, doctors and nurses specifically qualified to diagnose and treat myasthenia gravis is not collected centrally.

As at March 2004, there were 427 consultants in neurology. Since September 1997, numbers have increased by 149, or 54 per cent., and we are working towards increasing their numbers further.

We are encouraging more doctors to practise neurology by expanding the number of specialist registrar (SpR) opportunities in the specialty.
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In 2003–04, central funding has been distributed to support the implementation of 10 additional SpR posts in neurology. All the posts have now been implemented. Trusts also have the opportunity to create up to 20 locally funded SpR training opportunities. Trusts were surveyed in February 2004, when six locally funded opportunities had been implemented, with the remaining 14 planned to have been implemented by August 2004.

In 2004–05, neurology has been allocated a further two centrally funded posts and strategic health authorities have been given freedom to agree as many additional SpR training opportunities as are necessary to achieve Working Time Directive compliance, subject to obtaining educational approval.

The number of nurses overall employed in the national health service has increased by 77,500 since 1997 and we are increasing the number of training places for nurses and midwives. Between 1996–97 and 2003–04, the number of students entering training to become a nurse or midwife has increased by 9,300, or 62 per cent.

National Service Framework for Children

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he proposes to publish the national service framework for children. [186073]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer dated 22 July 2004]: The national service framework was published today.

NHS and Primary Care Trusts (Funding)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 13 July 2004, Official Report, column 1100W, on NHS and primary care trusts (funding), under which part of the Code of Practice on Access to Official Information he declines to make available figures collected by strategic health authorities on the financial position of NHS trusts and primary care trusts. [188047]

Mr. Hutton: This information is considered to be exempt under Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government information.

NHS Targets

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which previously published targets set for the NHS remain in place which are not listed in either the list of future targets or those to be achieved by March 2005 in the planning and priorities framework for 2005 to 2008. [188158]

Mr. Hutton: There are only 20 new national requirements set out in National Standards Local Action, the health and social care standards and planning framework for 2005 to 2008.

Fewer national requirements will create more scope for local priorities so that the national health service and social care has much more flexibility to deliver personalised services for patients and to recognise local needs and priorities.
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While there is a need to focus on new priorities, it is essential that levels of service set through previous planning rounds are maintained. The Department will continue to monitor and report on all the commitments made.

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