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Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 18 March 2005]: The Department has not made an assessment of the provision of services for autistic children and adults in Kent. Our policy of Shifting the Balance of Power means that responsibility for the provision of local health services now rests with primary care trusts (PCTs). It is for PCTs, in conjunction with strategic health authorities, to ensure that local services meet the needs of their local communities.
Miss Melanie Johnson: The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is currently investigating this matter and will draw conclusions and make recommendations to the Secretary of State. The CMO expects to be able to submit his report to the Secretary of State shortly.
The published data for last minute cancelled operations in each of the last three quarters of 200405 for West Suffolk Hospitals National Health Service Trust are shown in the table.
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|Number of last minute|
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the use of funds allocated to primary care trusts for the purpose of ensuring that deaf people receive equal treatment and access to medical care; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what plans he has to issue instructions to (a) primary care trusts, (b) health trusts and (c) foundation hospitals to record deafness and the preferred communication method for the purpose of the proposed needs assessments to be undertaken by these bodies. 
The Department has no plans to issue such guidance to health and social care providers at a local level. However, individual health and social care practitioners are expected to record the preferred methods of communication of deaf and hard of hearing clients.
Good practice guidance published jointly by the Department and the Disability Rights Commission last year gives practical suggestions of ways in which NHS managers and healthcare staff can make a real difference by meeting the needs of disabled service users, including those who are deaf.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assistance his Department provides for (a) people who suffer from dementia and (b) their carers; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: Standard 8 of the national service framework for older people, launched in 2001, sets out service models, actions and milestones for the national health service and social care organisations in the provision of services for older people with dementia and depression, and their carers.
A carers' grant was introduced in 1999 to support councils in providing breaks and services for carers in England. The grant has been increased annually and has provided an extra £225 million over the past four years. It was worth £100 million during 200304, helping an additional 130,000 carers. The carers' grant will be £185 million in 200506 and will continue until 200708 at least. Councils will be able to use the money to give carers help with taking a break from caring and also to give them on-going support with caring.
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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to change the drugs available on prescription for people who suffer from dementia; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: None, but the hon. Member may wish to consult the record of the recent debate in Westminster Hall, Official Report, columns 93101WH, which outlines a number of issues the Department will be raising in its response to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's current consultation on its draft appraisal of drugs for Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Ladyman: Standard 8 of the national service framework for older people sets out service models, actions and milestones for the national health service in the provision of services for older people with dementia and depression.
In 2003, the then Secretary of State for Health, my right hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr.Milburn), announced that, as part of the eighth wave of its work, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence would be producing comprehensive guidelines on all aspects of dementia care, including the use of antipsychotic drugs. A draft will be available for consultation in 2006.
Dr. Ladyman: Following a change in accounting procedures, data on the costs of digital hearing aids is no longer included in the annual collection of unit costs and activity data from national health service providers. In the last year for which information was available, 200203, the average cost of a digital hearing aid was £140.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the activity of the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products in the UK in the last 12 months; and if he will list the publications and newsletters published by the Agency over that period. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The activities of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the name of which was changed as of 20 May 2004, will be reported in the annual report for 2004, which is likely to be published in the coming weeks.
The EMA's activities during 2004 covered European Union enlargement; medicines for human use; medicines for veterinary use; working with regulators across the world; the European medicines network;
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making structural changes to the organisation and planning for the future, which is set out in the road map 2010.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of requests made to the NHS and its agencies under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 since 1 January. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 17 March 2005]: The Department did not make estimates in advance of numbers of Freedom of Information requests likely to be received by organisations in the national health service, as there was no sound basis for doing so.
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