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6 Feb 2006 : Column 897W—continued


Accident and Emergency Departments

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many NHS hospitals have (a) closed and (b) downgraded their accident and emergency departments in each of the last seven years. [48276]

Mr. Woodward: My Department has made significant investment in A&E services in recent years, increasing the number of A&E consultants in post by some 68 per cent. from 19 in 2000 to 32 in 2005. In financial terms total annual investment in A&E services has increased by almost 65 per cent. from just under £34 million in 1999–2000 to over £56 million in 2003–04 (the latest year for which figures are available).

In 2000, following concerns about the safety and sustainability of services, A&E and other acute services were transferred from South Tyrone Hospital in Dungannon to Craigavon Area Hospital. South Tyrone Hospital continues to provide a doctor-led minor injuries service, together with a wide range of other hospital services, including day surgery, outpatients and diagnostics.

More recently, in response to similar safety and sustainability concerns, I announced in December 2005 that full A&E services for the Sperrin Lakeland area would be consolidated on the Erne Hospital site in Enniskillen, with the Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh providing a 24-hour, doctor-led urgent care and treatment centre.

Antisocial Behaviour Orders

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what training has been provided to local councils on the use of antisocial behaviour orders in Northern Ireland in each of the last two years; and what the cost of the training was in each year. [48718]

Mr. Hanson: The Northern Ireland Office Community Safety Unit, in conjunction with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, provided five training sessions during January and February 2005 for practitioners from the police, Housing Executive and local councils throughout Northern Ireland on using antisocial behaviour orders. These training sessions cost the NIO £6,009.42.

The Community Safety Unit also assisted councils in running two further training sessions on antisocial behaviour orders in June 2005 specifically for council officers. The total cost of these sessions for the councils was £1,522.70.
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Bed Occupancy

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average bed occupancy rate was for each of Northern Ireland's acute hospitals during 2005. [48533]

Mr. Woodward: Percentage bed occupancy rates during 2004–05, for all hospitals that carry out specialties from the acute programme of care, are shown in the following table.
Percentage bed occupancy by hospital for 2004–05

Altnagelvin Area81.0
Belfast City85.2
Belvoir Park NICCO86.5
Braid Valley93.8
Causeway Hospital80.6
Craigavon Area81.7
Daisy Hill79.9
Forster Green70.6
Lagan Valley87.6
Mater Infirmorum91.3
Mid Ulster83.5
Musgrave Park71.2
Robinson Memorial79.6
Royal Maternity61.0
Royal Victoria87.4
Thompson House95.0
Tyrone County77.2
Northern Ireland83.0

Day case admissions are excluded from the calculation for bed occupancy.
Departmental Information Return KH03a.

Birthing Centres

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many midwife-led birthing centres are planned for Northern Ireland over the next five years; and where they will be. [48274]

Mr. Woodward: The Government are committed to providing the women of Northern Ireland with a range of choices in their maternity care. High quality, consultant-led maternity services are already available to all of the population of Northern Ireland.

To broaden choice for women we are working towards increasing the number of midwife-led units that are located on the same site as consultant obstetric units. There is currently one such unit in Northern Ireland, at Craigavon Area Hospital. We have plans to develop similar units at other hospitals including Altnagelvin Hospital, the Ulster Hospital and the new Belfast Maternity Hospital.
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In addition, boards and trusts, in conjunction with their local communities, are able to consider the development of stand-alone midwife-led units in locations where there is the support of local professionals, where safe and effective emergency transfer arrangements are in place and where the introduction of such a unit would not impact on the viability of any neighbouring consultant-led unit.

The Eastern Health and Social Services Board, working with Down Lisburn Trust plans to locate a stand-alone midwife-led unit in Downpatrick in 2007, subject to approval of the business case. At this time, no other board has indicated an intention to develop a stand-alone unit.

CCTV (Londonderry)

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in relation to the request from community representatives to provide CCTV coverage at the Irish Street/Top of the Hill interface in Londonderry. [46793]

Mr. Hanson: The Government continues to support the development of CCTV for town and city centres throughout Northern Ireland

19 city, town and large village centres currently benefit from surveillance by CCTV cameras and a further £2 million has been allocated to build on these systems and provide new systems where necessary. Detailed proposals must be submitted by 31 March and it is hoped that the first new systems will be up and running by late summer 2006.

Londonderry DCU are compiling a proposal to address the concerns of community representatives in the Irish St/Top of the Hill interface in Londonderry. Officials will consider the proposal in consultation with the PSNI when it is received.

Delayed Discharges

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many delayed discharges of elderly patients there are in NHS hospitals because of lack of finance to allocate them beds in nursing or residential homes. [48275]

Mr. Woodward: At 31 December 2005, there were 59 elderly patients who have had their discharge delayed in NHS hospitals because no package of care or placement in institutional care was available. This figure could include those who require funding for domiciliary care as well as funding to allocate patients beds in nursing or residential homes.

This figure is provisional and is subject to change. Patients who were 65 years of age or older at 31 December 2005 are categorised as elderly.

Farm Fed Chickens

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken by Invest Northern Ireland to offer assistance and retraining to the employees at Farm Fed Chickens following the announcement by the company on Friday 27 January. [48529]

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Angela E. Smith: Invest NI has no remit to provide assistance to companies making staff redundant, nor to the employees concerned. This role is undertaken by staff of the Department for Employment and Learning.

The Department for Employment and Learning will provide advice and support for all employees who lose their jobs as a result of redundancy. Staff from the local Jobs and Benefits Office will provide advice on alternative job opportunities and access to training courses and will also ensure that those who have lost their jobs are able to access advice on a range of other issues such as benefits and taxation. The Department will also support employers who are expanding their workforce or creating new jobs by providing job brokering services and suitable training programmes where appropriate. Initial contact was made with Farm Fed Chickens on 27 January to offer the Department's services and a further meeting is arranged for Thursday 2 February 2006.

Hare Coursing

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to introduce a ban on hare coursing in Northern Ireland. [44561]

Angela E. Smith: It is acknowledged that the issue of hare coursing in Northern Ireland concerns many people, however, there are no immediate plans to propose specific legislation to ban hare coursing.

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