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10 Oct 2005 : Column 266W—continued

Myasthenia Gravis

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what support he is providing for people diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [15336]

Mr. Woodward: Myasthenia Gravis is a rare neuromuscular condition which responds well to medical management. Around 20 to 30 patients with Myasthenia Gravis are managed at any one time by the neurology team based at the Royal Group of Hospitals Trust where one of the consultant staff has a special interest in this condition.

Patients are advised about the charity, the Myasthenia Gravis Association, which has branches in Belfast, Lurgan and Omagh.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the recommendations of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence will be applied in full by the Northern Ireland Health Service. [16354]

Mr. Woodward: The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is putting in place arrangements for reviewing the applicability of National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance to the Health and Personal Social Services in Northern Ireland. Under the new arrangements, which are expected to be fully operational from early 2006, the Department will endorse NICE guidance that is deemed to be applicable for Northern Ireland.

NHS (Agency Staff)

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to reduce the use of agency staff in the national health service in Northern Ireland. [15331]

Mr. Woodward: The recruitment of staff is a matter for individual health and social services trusts, taking into account factors such as needs and available resources. While the use of agency staff, particularly in nursing, is necessary to ensure continuity of services, the Department wishes to reduce the current levels and is working to address this issue.

The Department is introducing pay modernisation through Agenda for Change to make working as an employee of the HPSS more attractive. In particular, we have increased the number of nurses in training by over 60 per cent. over recent years. As a result, it is expected that this investment in additional student nurses will reduce the number of agency staff required.

Nursing Homes

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average charge per week for persons in nursing homes in Northern Ireland was in the last period for which figures are available. [15332]

Mr. Woodward: The Department collects information on the total spend by trusts on nursing home care per occupied week of care. This information is broken down
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by Programme of Care and is collected through trust financial returns. The mean average weekly costs were as follows for 2003–04:
Nursing homes—charges

ServiceNumber of occupied resident weeksMean average weekly
cost (£)
Nursing Care POC 5—mental health13,052444
Nursing Care POC 6—learning disability32,586521
Nursing Care POC 7—physical and sensory disability
Nursing Care POC 4 EMI—elderly mentally infirm
Nursing Care POC 4 Other—elderly242,315423

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many private care home beds there are in each Northern Ireland constituency. [15333]

Mr. Woodward: The number of places in care homes is not recorded according to parliamentary constituency. Information on the number of places in private care homes is also not collected centrally. Information is, however, available on the number of places in all independent (private and voluntary) sector care homes, by health and social services trust area, and is shown in the following table for the position at 31 March 2004, the latest date for which such information is available centrally.
Places in independent (private and voluntary) care homes, Northern Ireland, 31 March 2004

HSS trustResidential home placesNursing home placesTotal places
Down Lisburn4139361,349
North and West Belfast2378161,053
South and East Belfast6181,1051,723
Armagh and Dungannon156737893
Craigavon and Banbridge92518610
Newry and Mourne232503735
Sperrin Lakeland3257191,044
Northern Ireland3,5629,31212,874

Places in children's homes are excluded. Dual registered places (places registered for both residential and nursing care) are included in nursing home places but excluded from residential home places.


Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which parades in Northern Ireland require a Police Service of Northern Ireland presence. [14497]

Mr. Woodward: The PSNI have advised that an assessment to identify a need for a PSNI presence at any parade would be dependant on the individual circumstances of any such prevailing parade.

Pension Credit

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many and what percentage of pensioner households in Northern Ireland are in receipt of pension credit. [15186]

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Mr. Hanson: The number of pension credit households is open to interpretation. One is for households which equates to the number of residencies. The other takes account of the number of benefit families (i.e. single individual, couple).
Households (residencies) claiming pension credit86,404
Households (benefit families) claiming pension credit91,199

As no baseline figure for the number of pensioner households is available, the percentage of Northern Ireland pensioner households who are in receipt of pension credit is unavailable. However, the number of individuals in receipt of state retirement pension is 268,352. The data are taken from June 2005.

Planning Legislation

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to review Planning Policy Statement 1. [16119]

Angela E. Smith: The review of Planning Policy Statement 1 is scheduled to commence in the current business year.

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what the timetable for the introduction of new planning legislation arising from the Reforming Planning Consultation conducted in November 2004 is; and what the (a) timetable and (b) process for consultation for this legislation is; [16136]

(2) what plans he has to introduce a sustainable development statutory purpose for planning. [16137]

Angela E. Smith: Following the Reforming Planning Consultation, the Department of the Environment intends to issue draft legislation for further public consultation in the autumn. It is intended this will include a statutory requirement for development plan functions to be carried out with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. It is anticipated the legislation will be enacted by spring 2006.

Post Office Closures

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he last met representatives from unions to discuss the closure of post offices in Northern Ireland. [15334]

Angela E. Smith: There have been no meetings between Northern Ireland Ministers and union representatives to discuss post office closures nor am I aware of any request for such a meeting.

Premature Baby Units

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many infants have been treated in each premature baby unit in Northern Ireland in each of the past five years. [13891]

Mr. Woodward: Information on the number of infants treated in neo-natal units in Northern Ireland hospitals is available from each trust providing the facility and is outlined in the following table.
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Royal Maternity Hospital669681581513495
Ulster Hospital257272290228278
Antrim Area Hospital266232251213240
Daisy Hill Hospital208202183230199
Craigavon Area Hospital271240233228256
Altnagelvin Hospital338325264253265
Erne Hospital155130130128107
All hospitals2,1642,0821,9321,7931,840

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