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5 Dec 2005 : Column 1064W—continued

Intensive Care

Kitty Ussher: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many intensive care beds are available in East Lancashire; what the occupancy rates of these beds was in the last year for which figures are available; and what assessment she has made of the future requirement for intensive care beds in the sub-region. [26122]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 29 November 2005]: There were, on average, 38 intensive care beds available in 2004–05 at the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS trust. The occupancy rate was 70.4 per cent.

The trust is currently conducting a review of clinical services.

Maternity Care

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures are in place to improve the range of choices available to women who wish to receive one-to-one maternity care. [16657]

Mr. Byrne: The maternity standard of the national service framework for children, young people and maternity services requires maternity care providers and primary care trusts to ensure that the range of ante-natal, birth and post-birth care services available locally constitutes real choice for women including the offer of support from a named midwife throughout pregnancy. It also advocates that all women are able to contact a midwife day or night at any stage in pregnancy if they have concerns.

In its manifesto commitment, the Government made a commitment that

We have put in place a concentrated work programme to support implementation of the both the manifesto commitment and the maternity standard.
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Medical Consultation Costs

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average cost of (a) a general practitioner consultation, (b) an attendance at accident and emergency and (c) a consultation at an NHS walk-in-centre was in the latest period for which figures are available. [20858]

Mr. Byrne: This data is not routinely collected centrally. The latest available estimates are contained in the 2004 National Audit Office report, 'Improving Emergency Care in England'. This report estimates that a general practice consultation costs about £15, a presentation at an established national health service walk-in centre between £20 and £30 which is based on 2002 data, and an attendance at an accident and emergency department around £55 to £60. The full report is available in the Library.

Ophthalmic Operations

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cataract operations carried out by the private sector led to a reduction in such NHS operations. [17372]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 17 October 2005]: Centrally procured independent sector mobile cataract units have carried out over 17,500 procedures to date on national health service patients, increasing NHS capacity and helping to reduce long waiting times. In the past, these patients would have faced a much longer wait for their operations in NHS facilities.

Patient Advice and Liaison Services

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with (a) Patient Advice and Liaison Services and (b) other patient and public involvement organisations on advising individuals on Choose and Book. [22409]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 26 October 2005]: NHS Connecting for Health's choose and book patient reference group, which meets once every six to eight weeks, is comprised of patient and public involvement forum members. Through this mechanism, they have been supporting the development of the choose and book service since May 2004. In addition, the Plain English Campaign and the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) are involved in reviewing choose and book related communications.

Since February 2003, the choose and book joint programme board has met on a six weekly basis. The board is an important part of the governance arrangements for
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choose and book. The chief executive of the National Association for Patient Participation is a member of this board and attends these meetings.

The Department has also issued guidance to primary care trusts, which advises them to engage their local PALS, libraries and existing patient and public involvement organisations with providing information and support to patients offered choice through the choose and book service or other routes.

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the (a) quality, (b) consistency and (c) impact on equity of access to treatment for patients of the service provided by patient care advisers; and if she will make a statement. [19234]

Mr. Byrne: Evaluations of the two largest choice pilots recognised the importance of patient care advisers (PCAs) to support and advise patients through choice and ensure equitable access. These showed that patients appreciated the role of PCAs, with over 93 per cent. of patients in London rating the PCAs quality of service as good, very good, or excellent. In addition, in London the evaluation found that the equity of access to choice was achieved in particular by providing support through PCAs to patients who needed help finding their way through the system.

Primary Care Services

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations the Government have received on their proposals to involve the private sector in managing primary care services. [21591]

Mr. Byrne: The Government have not made any proposals to involve the private sector in managing primary care services.

Private Sector Transfers

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the NHS facilities in each region which are being considered for transfer to private sector management in the current round of tendering. [21493]

Mr. Byrne: No facilities will be transferred. As part of the elective phase two procurement programme, strategic health authorities (SHAs) with primary care trusts proposed facilities which could be leased to the independent sector for the provision of elective surgery. Final decisions about which sites are used will not be made until the procurement process has ended. The specific facilities identified by SHAs include those shown in the table.
SHAsProposed facilities
Birmingham and The Black CountryBirmingham City Treatment Centre
Cheshire and MerseysideFacilities in Whiston, Clatterbridge and Warrington (renal dialysis)
Hampshire and Isle of WightNew Forest Lymington
North and East Yorkshire and North LincolnshireFacilities at Hull, Scunthorpe, Scarborough and Grimsby (renal dialysis)
North West LondonRavenscourt Park
South West PeninsulaScope for provider to utilise spare surgical capacity at the following NHS hospitals: Axminster, Sidmouth, Exmouth, Tavistock.
South YorkshireCatheter laboratories at Rotherham and Barnsley.
West YorkshireFacilities at Bradford and Skipton (renal dialysis)

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Quality and Outcomes Framework

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhether the outcome of the review of the quality and outcomes framework will allow GPs to have theirperformance measured against specific local indicators. [29388]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 17 November 2005]: The quality and outcomes framework is a national agreement as part of the general medical services contract, but primary care trusts are able to make local agreements with practices, in addition to those contained in the framework.


Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria she uses to decide whether to refer disputed health service reconfigurations to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel; and how many such cases are awaiting her decision. [22584]

Mr. Byrne: When the Secretary of State receives a referral of a decision from an overview and scrutiny committee she has an option of seeking advice from the independent reconfiguration panel if she considers. She needs further independent advice before making a final decision. Currently, there are three cases awaiting her decision.

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