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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. 
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.
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. 
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.
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.
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. 
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 200304:
|Service||Number of occupied resident weeks||Mean average weekly|
|Nursing Care POC 5mental health||13,052||444|
|Nursing Care POC 6learning disability||32,586||521|
|Nursing Care POC 7physical and sensory disability|
|Nursing Care POC 4 EMIelderly mentally infirm|
|Nursing Care POC 4 Otherelderly||242,315||423|
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.
|HSS trust||Residential home places||Nursing home places||Total places|
|North and West Belfast||237||816||1,053|
|South and East Belfast||618||1,105||1,723|
|Armagh and Dungannon||156||737||893|
|Craigavon and Banbridge||92||518||610|
|Newry and Mourne||232||503||735|
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 credit||86,404|
|Households (benefit families) claiming pension credit||91,199|
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.
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; 
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.
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 Hospital||669||681||581||513||495|
|Antrim Area Hospital||266||232||251||213||240|
|Daisy Hill Hospital||208||202||183||230||199|
|Craigavon Area Hospital||271||240||233||228||256|
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