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School Nurses

Mr. Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many school nurses are employed in the Easington primary care trust; and if he will make a statement. [198133]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The latest work force census, at 30 September 2003, indicates that Easington primary care trust has no school nurses.
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It should be noted that the occupation code for school nurses was introduced for the 2003 non-medical work force census. However, the time scale in which this new code was introduced meant that organisations were not obliged to complete information for school nurses for the 2003 census.

Select Committees

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many recommendations by parliamentary select committees have been adopted by his Department since June 2001. [197776]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Select committee reports are given very careful consideration by the Department's Ministers. Since June 2001, several Committees of both Houses have made a range of recommendations on matters for which the Department is responsible. Select Committee reports and the Department's responses are a matter of public record.

Sexual Health

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much each primary care trust in Greater London spent on promoting sexual health in (a) 1997, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003. [194900]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases in the Greater London area. [197705]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Government's National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV(2001) recognises geographical variations in the distribution of poor sexual health and data shows that London is one of the areas disproportionately affected by rising levels of sexually transmitted infections.

It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) to identify local sexual health needs and provide services accordingly. The Department is supporting them, through the strategy, by allocating targeted investment to PCTs most in need, to improve local sexual health services and undertake sexual health promotion.

A strategic framework for sexual health has been agreed by the chief executives of the five strategic health authorities in London, and PCTs are producing sexual health action plans.

Sexual Mutilation

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions with which (a) organisations and (b) individuals his Department has held discussions on the practice of sexual mutilation of young women. [195796]

Miss Melanie Johnson: No discussions with organisations and individuals have taken place recently. However, departmental officials do work with the Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development (FORWARD) in an effort to tackle the problem of female genital mutilation in this country.
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The Department's support of FORWARD includes financial support through the section S64 general scheme of grants.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act, which came into force in March 2004, amends and strengthens the 1985 legislation. The Act provides an impetus and a focus to raise awareness among communities and among those professionals who are likely to encounter the consequences of female genital mutilation.


Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase the number of sign language interpreters for profoundly deaf people attending for NHS treatment. [196280]

Dr. Ladyman: The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to the way they deliver their services so that disabled people can1 use them. In 1999, the Department issued guidance to chief executives of national health service trusts on providing good quality services meeting the needs of disabled people. This guidance contains a section explaining the needs of people who are deaf or who have a hearing impairment setting out a range of ways in which better communication can be supported. For example, the guidance recommends that interpreters used for medical consultations should be appropriately qualified and that hospitals and health centres should maintain an up to date list of accredited sign language interpreters. The Department, in partnership with the Disability Rights Commission, has this year issued good practice guidance to NHS organisations suggesting practical ways to improve services for disabled people.

Skipton Fund

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library correspondence with the Scottish Executive pertaining to (a) the establishment of the Skipton Fund and (b) the directors of it; and if he will make a statement. [193655]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Skipton Fund is a United Kingdom-wide scheme and work in establishing the fund was undertaken by officials at all four health administrations. Officials therefore consulted with their counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in all aspects of setting up the scheme. We cannot make available correspondence which contains advice, consultation and recommendations. Exemption 2 (internal discussion and advice) of the Open Government Code of Practice on Access to Government Information applies.

Transport (Rural Areas)

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance his Department gives to primary care trusts on the commissioning of transport to healthcare for patients who live in rural areas; [192357]

(2) what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the transport needs of NHS patients living in rural areas and ways of meeting those needs; [192358]
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(3) what assessment he has made of the cost savings to the NHS of different arrangements for transport to healthcare in rural areas. [192359]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for providing or securing the provision of ambulance services, which could include patient transport services, to such extent as they consider necessary to meet all reasonable requirements. It is, therefore, for the local national health service to decide who provides patient transport services for patients in their area, including rural areas.

The Department has not made an assessment of the cost savings to the NHS of arrangements for transport to healthcare specifically in rural areas. Through the Modernisation Agency, we have issued good practice guidelines for PCTs on commissioning arrangements for emergency ambulance services and non-emergency patient transport services. Copies of this report are available in the Library.

The Department has not commissioned research into the transport needs of NHS patients living in rural areas.

Ward Housekeepers

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many ward housekeepers are in post, broken down by strategic health authority. [198232]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is set out in the table.
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Data submitted by national health service trusts showed that at 31 March 2004 there were 6,887 ward housekeepers in post.
Strategic health authorityNumber of housekeepers
Avon Gloucestershire and Wiltshire101
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire71
Birmingham and Black Country375
Central London111
Cheshire and Merseyside355
County Durham and Tees Valley68
Cumbria and Lancashire139
Dorset and Somerset36
Greater Manchester132
Hampshire and Isle of Wight245
Kent and Medway201
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland204
Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge56
North and East Yorks and North Lincs148
North East London21
North West London32
Northumberland Tyne and Wear259
Shropshire and Staffordshire110
South East London93
South West London87
South West Peninsula519
South Yorks428
Surrey and Sussex205
Thames Valley148
West Midlands South229
West Yorks1,467