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9 Nov 2005 : Column 629W—continued

Underperforming Schools

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what resources are available to schools to tackle under achievement; [26174]

(2) what steps are being taken by her Department to improve the spread of best practice to schools that are underperforming; [26178]

(3) what steps are being taken by her Department to improve the successful adoption of the characteristics of good schools by underperforming schools. [26179]

Jacqui Smith: The Department is working to ensure that underperforming and low attaining schools receive the resources, advice and support that they need to improve outcomes for their pupils.

In particular, the National Strategies focus consultant support on underperforming and low attaining schools at both primary and secondary stages and produce an extensive range of good practice materials which schools can readily access. The Department also supports several programmes which enable successful schools to collaborate and share good practice with other schools including those which are underperforming. This includes Leading Edge Partnership Programme schools that are funded to work with other schools to share their best practice, and a Secondary Performance Project which draws on the expertise of successful schools and the Specialist Schools Trust to work in partnership with schools that while not below the floor target have nevertheless been underperforming in value added terms. Local Authorities are also in the process of appointing trained School Improvement Partners who will work with individual schools to help them identify and access the support their self evaluation identifies as necessary for improvement.

Veterinary School Lecturers

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her policy is on veterinary school lecturers receiving commercial funding. [24764]

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Bill Rammell: As higher education institutions are autonomous, independent bodies they are responsible for determining their own academic and administrative affairs, including terms and conditions for their staff. The Government play no part in setting conditions of service for higher education staff, and as such, have no policy on this specific issue.



Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many abortions were conducted in the past 12 months in England and Wales (a) at 20 or more weeks, gestation and (b) at 12 weeks, or fewer of gestation; [24185]

(2) what information she collects on the number of Northern Irish women who come to England or Wales to have an abortion. [24186]

Caroline Flint: The information requested can be found in the Department's statistical bulletin 2005/11 Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2004", which is available on the Department's website at:

Copies are also available in the Library.

The available, provisional abortion data for January to March 2005 can be found in Health Statistics Quarterly 27" at:

Assaults on NHS Workers

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many assaults have been committed against NHS workers while on duty in the Gravesham constituency in each of the last three years. [24136]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not collected in the format requested. The NHS Security Management Service (NHS SMS) has policy and operational responsibility for the management of security in the national health service, including work to tackle violence against NHS staff. In November 2003, a comprehensive range of measures were introduced by NHS SMS to proactively and reactively deal with the problem of violence against NHS staff.

Since that time, an estimated 85,000 front line NHS staff have been trained to prevent and manage violence and the number of prosecutions identified involving those who have physically assaulted staff has risen from 51 in 2002–03 to 759 in 2004–05.


Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to promote breastfeeding. [23758]

Caroline Flint: The Government are committed to the promotion of breastfeeding as the best form of nutrition for infants and has a range of ongoing activities to increase support for breastfeeding. In particular, the Government are demonstrating its commitment to the
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promotion of breastfeeding by supporting national breastfeeding awareness week, which will be held 14 to 20 May 2006.

Phase one of healthy start, a reform of the welfare food scheme, is expected to commence later this year and one of its aims is to increase promotion and support for breastfeeding by encouraging earlier contact with the national health service. Healthy start will also provide equal benefits for breastfeeding mothers.


Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she will take to expedite the approval of (a) Xeloda and (b) Cetuximab by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. [23488]

Jane Kennedy: I understand that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is currently consulting on its draft guidance on Xeloda for colon cancer and that final guidance is scheduled to be published in June 2006. Guidance on Cetuximab for colon cancer is scheduled for publication in November 2006.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her estimate is of the number of additional scans needed each year to meet the guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommendation that women aged between 40 and 49 years and at high risk of breast cancer be screened every year for breast cancer; what assessment she has made of whether this guidance is being implemented; and what assessment she has made of the relative effectiveness of MRI scans and mammography in detecting breast cancer in women aged between 40 and 49 years. [23967]

Jane Kennedy: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) clinical guideline on the classification and care of women at risk of familial breast cancer estimated that an extra 21,000 scans annually would be needed to implement the guideline nationally.

Clinical guidelines from NICE are reflected in the standards published by the Department which provide a framework for continuous improvement in the overall quality of care people receive. Clinical guidelines are covered by the developmental standards, standards which the national health service is expected to achieve over time. The Healthcare Commission has responsibility for assessing progress towards achieving these standards. Clinicians are expected to take full account of NICE guidelines because they are based on the best available evidence and have been put together after wide consultation, drawing on the views of patients and carers as well as the experts in the field.

A multi-centre trial, magnetic resonance imaging for breast screening (MARIBS), compared regular mammographic screening and regular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for women at a high familial risk of breast cancer. The study ran for five years, and was funded by the Medical Research Council and National Health Service research and development. The results of the study were published in May 2005. The NICE guideline noted that several MRI studies, including MARIBS, would be published over the next
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few years. When the information from these studies becomes available, the recommendations in the guideline will be reviewed by NICE.

We are delivering an unparalleled expansion in most diagnostic services in the NHS, and there will be a 100 per cent. increase of 900,000 MRI scans between 2004–05 and 2007–08.

Children's TV (Advertising)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the impact on children's health of advertising of (a) fast foods and (b) sweets and snacks during children's television. [24366]

Caroline Flint: The Food Standards Agency commissioned a comprehensive study in 2003 (Hastings) into the effects of food promotion to children. The study concluded that food promotion is having an impact on children's preferences, purchase behaviour and consumption. Other studies have shown that the majority of foods advertised during children's peak viewing times are for foods high in fat, salt and sugar. The Choosing Health White Paper outlined the Government's strategy to restrict further the advertising and promotion to children of those foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

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