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Dr. Ladyman: The independent Healthcare Commission is responsible for developing and producing the national health service performance ratings. The Commission is currently developing a new assessment methodology, which will include assessments against the national standards for the NHS published in Standards for Better Health". Its proposals will be published in the spring.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 16 March 2005, Official Report, column 278W, on NHS finances, if he will give examples of the exceptional circumstances which have previously permitted unplanned support to be given to NHS and primary care trusts. 
The Department introduced restrictions in the use of unplanned financial support in the national health service from 200304. The policy is that unplanned financial support should only be used where
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the extent of financial problems is unmanageable and a failure to act would lead to an undue detrimental impact on the quality of patient care.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) trainee nurses are employed by each NHS Trust in the North East region and (b) student nurses on NHS contracts and receiving bursaries from the NHS are studying at each higher education institution in the North East region; what the value of NHS bursaries was in (i) 200405 and (ii) 1997; and whether such bursaries (A) are taxable and (B) were taxable in 1997. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 15 March 2005]: Student nurses are not technically employed bynational health service trusts whilst undertaking pre-registration nurse training courses, even though they continue to be paid a salary, as they have supernumerary status during their training period. There were 307 health care assistants seconded to nurse training by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear strategic health authority on behalf of their local trusts in 200304. (Source: Q4 200304MPET NMET Quarterly Monitoring).
Total student bursary awards in Northern England Education and Training Consortium were £183,452 in the 199798 academic year and £2,463,424 in the 200405 academic year. The figures are not directly comparable because the NHS Student Grants Unit (SGU) did not take on the responsibility for the assessment and payment of NHS Bursaries to nursing degree students until the 199899 academic year and only assessed and paid bursaries to Allied Health Profession students in the 199798 academic year. Similarly, Diploma level nursing and midwifery students were not paid their bursaries by SGU until the 19992000 academic year, with fifth year undergraduate medical and dental students, who commenced their first year from 1 September 1998 onwards, being incorporated into the NHS Bursary Scheme from the 200203 academic year.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the National Institute for Clinical Excellence
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will assess the efficacy of low carbohydrate diets as part of its obesity guidance; and if he will make a statement. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: The focus of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's work is broad and does not include investigations into any particular weight loss strategy. Where there is good evidence of effectiveness, dietary advice including the role of low-fat, low-carbohydrate and very low-energy diets will be considered.
Ms Rosie Winterton: Since 1 December 2003, 7,614 members have been recruited to patients' forums, of whom 1,609, or 21 per cent., have resigned. Current membership is 4,809, which is the highest since forum establishment.
Mr. Hutton: The Department has issued two sets of guidance clarifying how practice-based commissioning will operate. Furthermore, external stakeholders have been involved in producing practical booklets aimed at helping practices and primary care trusts with local implementation. A communications strategy has also been developed which highlights the benefits that practice-based commissioning can bring to both patients and those who work in the national health service. Officials are also considering what more can be done to encourage uptake.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhat his Department's policy is on the cost for patients' friends and relatives of calling patients in hospital through premium rate lines operable through bedside telephones; if he will publish guidance given to NHS trusts on this issue; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hutton: Patients in national health service hospitals have requested personal use of a telephone to remain in contact with family and friends. This is provided through the patient power system and over 75,000 beds in NHS trusts have this service.
Three suppliers, covering 69,000 beds, include a message notifying callers at the outset of the call what the cost will be. The fourth, which provides a service to the remaining 6,000 beds, will shortly be including a similar message at all its sites.
Bedside televisions and telephones are an additional service to patients. It is still possible for friends and relatives to contact a hospital through its main switchboard and then be transferred to a nurses' station to enquire about their relative's health.
NHS Estates commissioned the British Market Research Bureau to carry out a survey to conduct research into patient and staff satisfaction with the bedside communication and entertainment systems. Over 300 patients and nearly 100 staff were interviewed at six NHS hospitals between October and November 2004.
The patient bedside entertainment system provides a vital direct link with the outside world for NHS patients. The results of the recent survey confirm that the service is useful in improving the patient's stay in hospital.
Dr. Ladyman: Data on the incidence of psoriasis is not available centrally. However, the Psoriasis Association estimates that the condition affects approximately two per cent, of the United Kingdom population.
In England, primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for deciding which health services the local population requires and ensuring that these services are provided. We have asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to establish the clinical and cost effectiveness of efalizumab and etanercept within their licensed indications for the treatment of psoriasis and to produce guidance for the national health service in England and Wales. We expect NICE to publish
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guidance in October 2005. PCTs are obliged to provide appropriate funding where treatments have been recommended by NICE.
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