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20 Jun 2005 : Column 785W—continued

Zimbabwe

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Government will implement the UNHCR's recommendation for states to suspend all removals to Zimbabwe. [3306]


 
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Mr. McNulty: Asylum and human rights claims by Zimbabwean nationals are considered on their individual merits in accordance with our obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the European convention on human rights (ECHR). As with any other nationality, Zimbabweans who meet the definition of a refugee in the 1951 Convention are granted asylum. If they do not qualify for asylum, but there are other circumstances that make them particularly vulnerable and engage our obligations under the ECHR, they are granted humanitarian protection or discretionary leave. If their application is refused, they have a right of appeal to the independent Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. In this way we ensure that we provide protection to those Zimbabweans who need it.

Each application is considered against the background of the latest available country information from a wide range of reliable sources including international organisations, non-governmental organisations and the media. In addition, we are in continual dialogue with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about country conditions in Zimbabwe.

Asylum decisions are based on the circumstances of the individual claimant and, while we are aware of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' advice based on a general assessment of conditions in Zimbabwe, that does not mean that it would be unsafe for failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers to return to Zimbabwe. Where it is clear that there are Zimbabweans in need of international protection and the asylum system will continue to provide that, but if an asylum and human rights claim is refused, and any appeal to the independent Asylum and Immigration Tribunal is unsuccessful, that means that it would be safe for that particular individual to return to Zimbabwe.

HEALTH

Abortion

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthhow much has been given in grants to support abortion clinics outside the NHS in each of the last five years. [5196]

Caroline Flint: The Department has not provided any grants to approved independent sector abortion clinics in the last five years. Primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for providing reproductive health services which meet the needs of their local populations. Some may choose to contract services with the independent sector. No information is collected centrally on PCT expenditure on the provision of abortion services in non-national health service settings.

Acts of Parliament (Internet Access)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to make all Acts of Parliament published before 1988 for which her Department is responsible available online. [3719]


 
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Jane Kennedy: The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) within the Cabinet Office is the Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament, and responsible for the publication of Acts of Parliament. HMSO have considered the publication of Acts prior to 1988, which is the earliest date when these were available electronically, but have decided not to do so as many have been heavily amended and to publish them in their original form would be misleading for many users. The Government are, however, taking forward development of a statute law database, which will contain the fully revised and updated text of all legislation from 1275. It is expected that this will be made available to the general public during 2006.

Alcohol Programmes

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent by the NHS on (a) alcohol awareness programmes and (b) alcohol-related treatment in the last period for which figures are available. [5496]

Caroline Flint: Primary care trusts are responsible for providing alcohol services and programmes from their core budgets. There are no centrally held figures on such expenditure. The Department has commissioned a national alcohol needs assessment for England, which will be published in July 2005.

Allergy Specialists

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in implementing the recommendations of the Health Select Committee in November 2004 that 40 new allergy specialists should be trained in the national health service. [5387]

Mr. Byrne: In its response to the Health Committee report on the provision of allergy services, the Government undertook to carry out a review of the available data and research on the epidemiology of allergic conditions, the demand for and provision of treatment and the effectiveness of relevant interventions. The Chief Medical Officer is overseeing this review of the evidence, which we hope to complete by the end of June 2006. It will inform decisions about what steps could be taken to address any gaps and pressures that it reveals.

Asthma

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) adults and (b) children in Burntwood, Lichfield and Tamworth primary care trust have been recorded as suffering from asthma in each year since 1997. [3321]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information is not available in the requested format. However, information relating to the number of finished consultant episodes (FCEs) for the Burntwood, Lichfield and Tamworth primary care trust (PCT) area are shown in the tables. The data is split into age groups: 0 to 17 years—children and 18 years and over—adult.
 
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Count of FCEs for asthma (ICD-10 Codes = J45, J46), PCT of residence—Burntwood, Lichfield and Tamworth. Data years: 1997–98 to 2003–04
Table 1. Primary diagnosis count of episodes where asthma is the primary diagnosis
Age group
0–17 years18 years and over
1997–98143171
1998–9983137
1999–2000100140
2000–0186106
2001–0298135
2002–0375104
2003–0468129

Table 2. Primary diagnosis count of episodes where asthma is mentioned in any of the primary or secondary diagnosis fields.

Age group
0–17 years18 years and over
1997–98177320
1998–99124273
1999–2000133330
2000–01145331
2001–02119400
2002–03102389
2003–04104423




Notes:
1.A FCE is defined as a period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one health care provider. Please note that the figures do not represent the number of patients, as a person may have more than one episode of care within the year.
2.Hospital episode statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by over 300 national health service trusts and PCTs in England. The Health and Social Care Information Centre liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data via HES processes. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain.
3.The primary diagnosis is the first of up to 14 (seven prior to 2002–03) diagnosis fields in the HES data set and provides the main reason why the patient was in hospital.
4.As well as the primary diagnosis, there are up to 13 (six prior to 2002–03) secondary diagnosis fields in HES that show other diagnoses relevant to the episode of care.
5.All Diagnoses count of episodes" figures represent a count of all FCE's where the diagnosis was mentioned in any of the 14 (seven prior to 2002–03) diagnosis fields in a HES record.
6.Figures have not been adjusted for shortfalls in data, that is the data is ungrossed.
Source:
HES, Health and Social Care Information Centre.



Breast Cancer (Waiting Times)

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to introduce a target to measure the period between GP referral and first outpatient appointment for women suffering from breast cancer but routinely referred; and how she plans to monitor the time women wait. [3446]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The target that women with suspected breast cancer should be seen by a specialist within two weeks of urgent referral by their general practitioner was introduced in April 1999 and currently 99.8 per cent. of women are seen within this target. The Labour Party manifesto gave the commitment that all women with breast symptoms should be seen within two
 
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weeks of referral by their GP by 2008. Details of the introduction of this commitment and how it will be monitored are being finalised.


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