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Mr. Byrne: The Department is tackling the issue of carers support identified in the national carers strategy across a broad front. We are investing a substantial sum to help councils support carers with short breaks and other services. The carers grant is worth £185 million in 200506 and will continue at this rate until at least 200708. We also continue to fund and work closely with carers organisations.
The Department has also supported legislation which gives carers more rights including, for the first time, the right to an assessment of their own needs independent of the service user.
28 Nov 2005 : Column 249W
Mr. Byrne: The Social Care Institute for Excellence have recently designed and published an on line guide primarily for the social care managers and practitioners responsible for the implementation of the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004. The essential steps and many of the practice points throughout the guide will be usefulto those responsible for strategic planning and commissioning. Practitioners will need the support of senior and line managers and an appropriate framework to enable them to help carers. The guide will also be useful for carers, people who use social services and professionals from other organisations that support carers.
This work is in addition to SCIE's Practice guide on assessing the mental health needs of older people", which was published in January 2003. This guide gives an overview of information and current practice to all those involved in assessing the social care needs of older people with mental health needs. It supports the fundamentals of good assessment practice, giving access to the information and skills that inform sound judgments in the support of service users and carers. It shows users and carers where they can find out more and what they are entitled to expect from their contact with assessors.
The latest financial year for which the audited financial information of all national health service organisations, strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and NHS trusts, is available is 200405. The final position for NHS trusts for 200405 in the Cheshire and Merseyside SHA is shown in the following table.
28 Nov 2005 : Column 250W
|NHS trust name||Retained surplus/(deficit)|
|Southport And Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust||(1,189)|
|The Cardiothoracic CentreLiverpool NHS Trust||0|
|Royal Liverpool Broadgreen Hospitals NHS Trust||0|
|Aintree Hospitals NHS Trust||7|
|Liverpool Women's Hospital NHS Trust||7|
|St. Helens And Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust||9|
|Mersey Care NHS Trust||9|
|Royal Liverpool Children's NHS Trust||10|
|Walton Neurology Centre NHS Trust||10|
|Cheshire And Wirral Partnership NHS Trust||13|
|Mersey Regional Ambulance Service NHS Trust||15|
|East Cheshire NHS Trust||24|
|Wirral Hospital NHS Trust||25|
|The Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust||31|
|Clatterbridge Centre For Oncology NHS Trust||32|
|5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust||38|
|North Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust||84|
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhat plans are being considered by Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority for the reconfiguration of acute trusts; who has been consulted on such plans; when it is intended to discuss such plans with hon. Members; and what public consultation will be undertaken before decisions are taken. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 22 November 2005]: The Cheshire and Merseyside Strategic Health Authority (SHA) reports that it has commissioned independent consultants to work with national health service trusts to develop a coherent strategy that would enable all organisations in its area to achieve foundation trust status. At this time, the SHA does not have any plans to re-configure the acute trusts in its area.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the incidence of child epilepsy; and what courses of treatment have been made available in the last three years. 
Mr. Byrne: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has estimated that there are between 4,000 and 14,000 new consultations per year in the United Kingdom for epilepsy in children.
The NICE guidance, The diagnosis and care of children and adults with epilepsy" published in October 2004, and Newer drugs for epilepsy in children", published in April 2004 contain information on the latest treatments. Copies are available at NICE'S website at www.nice.org.uk.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to link designated professional staff for the protection of children from abuse and neglect to Local Safeguarding Children Board areas. 
Mr. Byrne: Consultation on revising the Government guidance on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, Working Together to Safeguard Children" finished on 28 October. The Government plan to publish a revised version. The guidance is expected to make it clear that designated health professionals are a key part of local safeguarding arrangements and are a vital source of professional advice on child protection matters to other professionals, the primary care trust (PCT) and to the local authority children's services departments. Chapter three of that guidance is about the role of local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs), which will be set up under sections 1316 of the Children Act. Each strategic health authority, PCT, NHS trust or NHS foundation trust will be required to link up with the local authority and other key stakeholders, as set out in the Children Act 2004, who cover the same areas in order to establish a LSCB by April 2006.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list former Community Health Council buildings still used by health authorities; and what their current use is in each case. 
Mr. Byrne: The current waiting time target of 17 weeks does not include consultant to consultant referrals, but relates to the maximum waiting time from general practitioner referral to a first outpatient appointment with a consultant. However, by December 2008 no patient will have to wait more than 18 weeks from general practitioner referral to start of hospital treatment.
The Department recently launched a listening exercise on the principles and definitions underpinning the 18 week commitment which will run until 8 December 2005. This includes proposals on the management of consultant to consultant referrals. Copies of this document are available in the Library.
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