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Mental Health Wards (Safety)

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance her Department provides to mental health wards to improve (a) staff, (b) patient and (c) visitor safety; [5993]

(2) what plans she has to improve the safety of (a) patients and (b) staff within mental health wards. [5998]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) published guidance on Developing Positive Practice to Support the Safe and Therapeutic Management of Aggression and Violence in Mental Health In-patient Settings" in February 2004.

The Department also commissioned the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to develop guidelines on The short-term management of disturbed or violent behaviour in in-patient psychiatric settings and emergency departments", which was published in February 2005.

In 2004, a national advisory and consultancy service was jointly established by NIMHE and the National Patient Safety Agency to support frontline services and a cross-government group is developing proposals for national accreditation and regulation of trainers and training programmes on the recognition, prevention and management of violence.

The NHS Security Management Service, along with NIMHE, has developed a training syllabus on non-physical intervention techniques for staff working in the mental health and learning disability environment,
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which, following trials in the summer, is envisaged to be implemented throughout the NHS. This syllabus includes de-escalation techniques and cultural awareness sessions with the aim of giving staff the skills required to be able to recognise, prevent, de-escalate and manage potentially violent situations.

The Department has issued additional directions and guidance regarding the safety and security at Ashworth, Broadmoor and Rampton Hospitals, which can be found on the Department's website.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff members were attacked with weapons in mental health wards in (a) 2002, (b) 2003 and (c) 2004. [5994]

Jane Kennedy: Information on the numbers of staff that have been attacked with weapons in mental health wards in 2002, 2003 or 2004 has not been collected centrally.

In April 2003, the NHS Security Management Service (NHS SMS) was created and assumed responsibility for tackling violence against national health service staff.

In November 2003, a comprehensive range of measures were introduced to tackle incidences of violence against NHS staff, both proactively and reactively. The NHS SMS has begun a programme of work to identify the true nature, scale and extent of the problem of violence against NHS staff. Accurate information concerning physical assaults against NHS staff is expected to be available from summer 2005.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her Department's policy is on whether every mental health ward in England should have access to a psychiatric intensive care unit. [5996]

Ms Rosie Winterton: As stated in the national service framework for mental health (1999), each local health and social care community needs to establish a balance of supported places, hospital beds, and home treatment, which should encompass intensive care beds for people needing a short period of intensive intervention and observation.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what changes the Department plans to make to the (a) recruitment of agency staff in mental health wards and (b) provision of entertainment and activities in mental health wards, following the publication of the Healthcare Commission's National Audit on Violence in mental health and learning disability services. [6030]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department will continue to implement the national mental health workforce strategy (2004) in order to increase the numbers of staff working in mental health settings and develop their skills further. We will also continue to encourage service providers to widen the skills mix by supplementing the existing professional roles with new ones such as support, time and recovery workers. The Department will continue to support initiatives to improve the quality of patient care and performance by investing in national health service staff and setting common standards of quality and governance; and achieve better value for money and control over temporary staffing costs through the use of NHS professionals and agency framework agreements. The ongoing review of mental
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health nursing is also considering the use of agency nursing staff and a report is expected to be published next year.

The national service framework for mental health (1999) and the mental health policy implementation guide on adult acute inpatient care (2002) require a flexible range of appropriate therapeutic and recreational resources and activities to be available in mental health inpatient settings. The latter requires the creation and maintenance of a therapeutic activity milieu to include evening and weekend activities and opportunities both on and off the ward which may include educational, social, daily living, artistic, recreational and leisure activities. The national minimum standards for general adult services in psychiatric intensive care units and low secure environments (2002) requires all patients to have access to fresh air and secure external space and space for regular exercise with appropriate supervision.

MRI Scans (Lancashire)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the waiting time is for MRI scans in Lancashire. [6307]

Mr. Byrne: This information is not collected centrally.


Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much Government funding has been allocated to research into MRSA in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [2889]

Jane Kennedy: The main agency through which the Government support medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body, funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology.

The MRC does not currently fund meticillin resistant Staphylococcus" aureus (MRSA) research and has not done so over the last five years. The MRC is, however, supporting a considerable programme of underpinning research that may lead to a greater understanding of MRSA and contribute to practical solutions in the future.

The Department's national research programme spend on projects related to MRSA from 2001–02 to 2005–06 is shown in the table.
Amount (£ thousand)

(41)The allocation for 2005–06 includes part of the cost of a three-year project designed to evaluate the clinical value of rapid diagnostic testing for MRSA that is due to start in July. The project is being funded from the £3 million provided for a research programme on healthcare associated infections that was announced at the time of the publication of the Department's report Winning Ways—working together to reduce healthcare associated infection in England".
(42)Forecast expenditure.

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Over 75 per cent. of the Department's total expenditure on health research is devolved to and managed by NHS organisations. Details of individual projects, including a number concerned with MRSA, can be found on the national research register at

MS Treatment

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding her Department provides to charitable MS treatment facilities in (a) Sussex and (b) England. [5905]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 20 June 2005]: We provide funding for national multiple sclerosis charities. Individual multiple sclerosis treatment facilities receive funding from the fees they charge on NHS patient referrals.

National Blood Service

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being made to increase the availability of (a) B negative, (b) AB positive and (c) AB negative blood groups in the National Blood Service blood banks. [5388]

Caroline Flint: The National Blood Service (NBS) is continually working to maintain blood stocks, through a range of marketing and communication techniques. For example, on 14 June 2005, the NBS hosted World Blood Donor Day at eight events across the country, which celebrated the lives that have been saved by the generous donation of blood from donors. World Blood Donor Day was an opportunity to thank blood donors and raise awareness of the constant need for blood and blood donors.

NBS blood stocks are currently good. The table shows NBS's red cell stocks as at 17 June 2005.

Red cell stocks

Number of
validated units
number of
days supply
Total red blood cell stocks47,1017.39
B negative red blood cell stocks5284.15
AB positive red blood cell stocks1,33210.11
AB negative red blood cell stocks1653.93

In addition to NBS stocks, each hospital blood bank will keep an appropriate stock of blood.

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