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27 Feb 2006 : Column 464W—continued

Married Couples (Care Homes)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many married couples are being cared for in separate state-run care homes in England. [49434]

Mr. Byrne: I understand from the Chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, which collects data on the number of registered care homes and places, that information about occupancy levels or residents, including their marital status, is not collected centrally.

Meals on Wheels

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make a statement on (a) the role of Meals on Wheels in providing elderly people with a warm meal and (b) the work of the volunteers who check up on the general welfare of the recipients of the meal; [48196]

(2) if her Department will provide support to voluntary organisations who provide Meals on Wheels in Lancashire following withdrawal of the subsidy from Lancashire county council for the provision of this service; [48197]

(3) if she will list the local authorities which provide subsidy for a meals on wheels service; [48198]

(4) if she will make a statement on the effects of the meals on wheels service provided by local authorities; [48199]

(5) what support and assistance is available to local authorities from her Department for the subsidy of meals on wheels services; [48200]

(6) what percentage of rate support grant Lancashire county council has allocated to its meals on wheels service in 2005–06. [48687]


 
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Mr. Byrne: Councils are responsible for commissioning social care services for their communities, which may include Meals on Wheels, according to local need. Councils are free to decide an appropriate mix of services to meet the needs of their populations.

The Department recognises the contribution made by the work of volunteers to the provision of the meals on wheels service, which can be valuable in providing a hot meal to older people in their homes. However, decisions about whether to fund voluntary organisations to provide council run services are a local matter.

The Government allocates revenue support funding to councils to cover a variety of needs, including social services spending. This funding is not hypothecated and councils are free to spend it in the way they consider best meets local needs. Information is not collected centrally about subsidies provided by local authorities.

It is for councils to ensure that effective arrangements are in place to meet the needs of local people.

Medicine Use Reviews

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many medicine use reviews have been conducted in each month since November 2005; and how many such reviews her Department estimated would be carried out in the (a) first six months and (b) first year of the new community pharmacy framework; [50979]

(2) how many pharmacy contractors there are in England. [50980]

Jane Kennedy: The number of medicine use reviews (MURs) undertaken in November 2005 is confirmed at 13,476. Figures for months since November are not yet available.

In the interests of good financial management of the £39 million allocated for MURs, in the first year of the new community pharmacy contractual framework, a maximum was set equivalent to 80 per cent. of community pharmacies each undertaking 200 MURs. No estimate was made of the number of MURs that would be carried out in the first six months. However, it was agreed to keep provision under review. As a result, for those pharmacy contractors who met the requirements before 1 January 2006, the maximum number of MURs undertaken by each community pharmacy was increased from 200 to 250 for 2005–06. Funding for 2006–07, including for MURs, is currently under discussion.

There were 9,742 community pharmacies in England providing national health service pharmaceutical services at 31 March 2005.

Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received regarding the proposal by the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency to increase application and licensing fees. [49843]


 
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Jane Kennedy: The Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a Public Consultation Exercise (MLX 322) on the MHRA's regulatory fees proposals for 1 April 2006. That consultation exercise began on 28 November 2005 and ended on 3 February 2006. Consultation letters were issued to some 3200 companies, individuals and industry associations and licence and marketing authorisation holders who were likely to be affected by the proposals or interested in them. The consultation document was also placed on the MHRA website. By the close of the consultation, 66 responses had been received, although a number have come in after the closing date, and they will also be taken into account. We are now analysing the responses, and will be taking into account all responses received before making a decision on final level of fees.

Mental Health

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps have been taken towards (a) developing, implementing and reinforcing comprehensive mental health policies as outlined in the 12 areas for action set out in the World Health Organisation's Mental Health action plan for Europe and (b) engaging non-governmental organisations and service users in this work. [53097]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Work is being taken forward in many ways to develop mental health policies and services that are consistent with the World Health Organisation action plan, including:

Service users and non-governmental organisations are involved in shaping policy and guiding its implementation. For example, the Shift" programme has an advisory board that includes 14 people with direct experience of mental health problems, and the national social exclusion programme is supported by an affiliates network of over 50 organisations.

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the Department's plans are for the distribution of the document Everybody's business" service guide for older people's mental health services. [50205]


 
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Mr. Byrne: The document, Everybody's business" is available on the Care Services Improvement Partnerships website at www.olderpeoplesmentalhealth.csip.org.uk/Downloaddocuments

In addition, the Department is currently running a series of regional events to promote the service development guide, Everybody's Business", and support its uptake into professional practice.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what qualifications are necessary to work in the NHS as (a) a psychotherapist, (b) a cognitive behavioural therapist and (c) other types of therapist. [40895]

Mr. Byrne: There is no single qualification entitling a person to work as psychotherapist, cognitive behavioural therapist or mental health therapist in the national health service. Training is usually outside of the NHS through organisations affiliated to the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy or the British Confederation of Psychotherapists. It is for NHS employers to satisfy themselves that any psychotherapists they employ are appropriately qualified.


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