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Dr. Richard Taylor (Wyre Forest) (Ind): I welcome the emphasis on mental well-being and the greater use of psychological therapies, but I am puzzled as to how that can happen. Shortages of clinical psychologists are extreme: in my patch, patients can wait up to a year and I understand that appointments for clinical psychologists are not subject to targets.
Ms Hewitt: The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. Of course we need to do more to train and recruit people, not only at consultant level but at psychotherapist and counsellor level, to support people who need more support in dealing with depression and other forms of mental illness. We will shortly announce the location of two demonstration sites, where we will trial some of the new approachesin particular, a more extensive use of cognitive behavioural therapy.
Charlotte Atkins (Staffordshire, Moorlands) (Lab): I welcome the statement, but does my right hon. Friend agree that the best primary care trusts, such as Staffordshire Moorlands, are already pioneering much preventive work? For instance, the trust has introduced community matrons to work with vulnerable patients to prevent emergency admissions to hospitals, deep vein thrombosis testing, prevention of falls programmes and GPs' surgeries every Saturday and Sunday in the local community hospital.
Ms Hewitt: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The work that her primary care trust and many others are doing in developing exactly that approach is the foundation on which we have created the White Paper. Many examples of excellent practice are given throughout the White Paper, including the use of community matronsone of our innovationsto support people who need long-term care. What we now need to do is seize the opportunity that stronger commissioning and practice-based commissioning give us to ensure that the best practice in some parts of the country becomes the norm in every part of the country.
Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): The Secretary of State talked about fully engaging the local community. In my constituency, tens of thousands of people have been fully engaged in opposing the cuts to the acute hospital. Will the statement today mean that those cuts will be reversed or will they go ahead because of the deficits in our trust?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, there are financial problems in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
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There has been overspending even within a substantially increased NHS budgeta budget against which his party voted. There has been extensive consultation in that area on a reorganisation of services that will make much better use of NHS resources, give people high quality acute and emergency care, and give them better services within the community.
Michael Jabez Foster (Hastings and Rye) (Lab): How will my right hon. Friend ensure that the target intentions that she mentioned affect Hastings, which is a very poor area within a rich region? Will the changes to the PCT mean that that will be diluted? How will she ensure that poor areas within rich areas benefit in the way that she intends?
Ms Hewitt: My hon. Friend makes an important point. When we set out the criteria for PCTs that were looking at new boundaries, we said that they needed to satisfy themselves and us that they would be able both to have effective commissioning of acute hospital services and to maintain the focus on local communities, especially the most disadvantaged. Where there is general public support for a proposal to merge several primary care trusts into a much larger area, one of the issues we will consider is how we may sustain that local focus and, in particular, how we may ensure that funding continues to go to the areas that need it most.
Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): Will the Secretary of State confirm that the Government's health checks do not involve checks by doctors or nurses but people filling in self-assessment forms supported by health trainers? Who are those health trainers and will they be clinically qualified?
I am happy to make it clear that in the first instance the NHS life check will not be carried out by GPs or nurses. That would not be the best use of those resources, so the first stage will be the self-assessment process. Then people in the higher risk categories will be offered the help of a health trainera proposal that came from the public and was in the "Choosing Health" White Paperand the first of them are being employed in the most disadvantaged areas, in the spearhead primary care trusts where we shall be piloting the NHS life check. For people in high risk categories who may need more than the support of a health trainer, there would be follow-up by a nurse practitioner, a GP or some other qualified clinician.
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Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can the Speaker give help and guidance to provide more time for Members who have questions on the Order Paper? During Department for Culture, Media and Sport Question Time only seven Members whose names were on the Order Paper were called, whereas during Church Commissioners questions eight names on the Order Paper were called. Is it possible either that Ministers responding could be asked to give briefer answers or that the time for Church questions could be reduced so that the time for questions to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport could be increased? That would give me an opportunity to mention Colchester's success in the FA cup.
Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): As hon. Members know, Mr. Speaker is always keen to have contributions from as many Back Benchers as possible. Although we only got to Question 8 on the Order Paper, in fact 30 questions were asked and answered in total. However, it is always helpful if supplementaries are kept short and answers from Ministers are equally short.
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In a sense, I am the wrong Member to raise this point of order, as you were kind enough to call me during the statement, but I noticed that Front Benchers' questions and answers took almost three quarters of an hour of the hour and five minutes for the statement, which is unprecedented in my 14 years as a Member of Parliament. Will you, Madam Deputy Speaker, be kind enough to draw that to Mr. Speaker's attention to see whether discussions between the usual channels could take place so that ministerial statements and questions could be kept a little shorter to give the large number of Back Benchers who could not get in today the chance to speak in future on important subjects such as the statement that we heard today?
Madam Deputy Speaker: The hon. Gentleman will no doubt recall the statement that I made immediately the Front Benchers sat down. I have noted the matter; it is on the record and it will be brought to Mr. Speaker's attention. Despite that and the programme motion, I allowed the debate to continue for some considerable time. I have every sympathy.
Mr. Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con):
Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. If Front Benchers have long statements to make on serious
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subjects, would it be possible to agree with them that Back Benchers could have longer for questions, so that, for example, I could raise important issues about the possible closure of the accident and emergency department at Chase Farm hospital?
Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): On a separate point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have no criticism of the LobbyI sat upstairs with my friends in the Lobby for many yearsbut it received copies of the statement long before Members, so we had no opportunity to appraise what was being said. The Lobby receives the statement immediately the Minister stands up, yet we do not receive it in the Chamber. Can you look into that matter, Madam Deputy Speaker?
Madam Deputy Speaker: I understand that members of the Lobby receive the statement when the Secretary of State stands up. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the statement is brought into the Chamber fairly soon afterwards. That is a comparatively recent practice that has been adopted.
(a) the Committee shall take questions under Standing Order No. 110 (Northern Ireland Grand Committee (questions for oral answer)), and shall then consider the instrument referred to it under paragraph (1) above; and
(b) at the conclusion of those proceedings, a motion for the adjournment of the Committee may be made by a Minister of the Crown, pursuant to paragraph (5) of Standing Order No. 116 (Northern Ireland Grand Committee (sittings)).[Kevin Brennan.]
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