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Patient Power Review Group

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Jane Kennedy): The Department has set up a review group to consider the concerns that were set out in the case closure report from Ofcom, following its investigation into the price of telephone calls to hospital patients.

The group will be chaired by Ms. Melanie Kay of the Department of Health. Its membership will include the providers of bedside communications and entertainment services, patient representation, and National Health Service trusts. The group will report later this year.

The terms of reference for the group are as follows:


Terms of Reference

1. Review all aspects of the charging structure:

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2. Review the requirement to install, with limited clinical exceptions, units at every bedside within a hospital site, irrespective of use. Could this be altered in respect of all new installations and the repair and renewal ofunits already installed?

3. Review the requirement to offer services through a combined unit, offering television and telephone and capable of offering added value services. It should consider not only the extent to which NHS trusts have made use of the added functionality (or could make use in the future) but should consider what the appropriate minimum standards should be for all future installations and renewals.

4. Review and clarify the guidance issued by the Department in respect of NHS trusts exercising their own discretion in determining the local policy on the use of mobile phones in hospitals.


Vulnerable Women (Criminal Justice System)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart): On 17 November 2005 I made a statement about developments at Styal prison following the tragic series of deaths of six women there and further work planned relating to women offenders. I outlined in that statement a great deal of work that is underway in respect of women who come into contact with the Criminal Justice System, in particular, changes made at Styal and other women's prisons and the Women's Offending Reduction Programme (WORP), which is co-ordinating and implementing a comprehensive programme of work to address the complex range of factors that affect women's offending.

I said that it was timely to take stock of the work being done and to look again at the measures in place to ensure that we are doing everything possible for the especially vulnerable group of women who come into contact with the criminal justice system. I undertook to make a further announcement when the scope of this review had been determined and I am now able to make that further announcement.

I am pleased to announce that Baroness Jean Corston has agreed to undertake this review. Jean recently chaired the Joint Committee on Human Rights and instigated its valuable and comprehensive Inquiry into Deaths in Custody in 2003.

The review will be focused on those women in whom a multitude of risk factors coexist and which could lead them to harm themselves in prison. This could, for example, encompass women with serious mental illness or serious drug addictions; women with other mental health problems such as personality disorder, which can be exacerbated by prison and increase their vulnerability; and those women who are persistent low-level offenders, living chaotic lives. It will look at provision for such women at each occasion they come
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into contact with the criminal justice system, for example, at police stations, at court, on remand, on sentencing, during sentence in the community, in prison and on release.

I stress that the review will complement rather than replicate the work underway and will seek to build on the vast amount of work and knowledge that already exist. For example, WORP aims to provide a more appropriate and joined-up response in the community to the particular factors that impact on women offenders. The Together Women Programme will trial an integrated approach to routing women to appropriate services to meet their needs at various stages of their offending history. Baroness Corston's review will seek to build on this work, focusing on identified gaps in provision.

Part of the review will profile the characteristics and histories of some of the women who have died in custody in recent years (particularly those at Styal) and look at the pathway through the criminal justice system that led them to that point. It is hoped that some of those families sadly bereaved by these deaths might be willing to share their experiences with the review and provide an insight into the events that led to custody. This element of the review could provide a strong contribution to learning lessons and may be of some small comfort to those bereaved families.

The review will be assisted by a small advisory reference group, with some wider groups and themed seminars. Baroness Corston is establishing her advisory group, which is likely to include, for example, Prison Reform Trust, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Women in Prison, INQUEST and NIMHE. Senior officials from the Home Office Women's Offending Reduction Programme, the Prison Service Women's group and the National Offender Management Service Safer Custody Group will also sit on the reference group. A wider group of people and organisations, whose expertise will be vital to the review, will also be invited to contribute both directly and through meetings and seminars. Many other individuals and organisations with specialist knowledge are being identified and will also be invited to contribute to the review.

My right hon. Friend Baroness Scotland has asked Baroness Corston for a progress report by the end of June 2006 and for her final report to reach us by 31 December 2006. The final report will be published.


Microgeneration Strategy

The Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks): On the 28 March 2006, I am publishing the Government's "Microgeneration Strategy". Publication fulfils the requirement under the Energy Act 2004 to publish a strategy for the promotion of microgeneration within 18 months of commencement of the relevant section.

Microgeneration is generally defined as the small-scale production of heat and/or electricity from a low carbon source. The suite of technologies caught by this definition includes solar (PV to provide electricity and thermal to provide hot water), micro-wind (including
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the new rooftop mounted turbines), micro-hydro, heat pumps, biomass, micro combined heat and power and small-scale fuel cells.

A study commissioned by the DTI from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) suggested that by 2050, microgeneration could provide 30–40 per cent. of the UK's electricity needs and help to reduce household carbon emissions by 15 per cent. per annum. In 2004 there were approximately 82,000 microgeneration installations in the UK.

The objective of the microgeneration strategy is to create conditions under which microgeneration becomes a realistic alternative or supplementary energy generation source for the householder, for the community and for small businesses. If this can be achieved we will start to see the level of growth in installations required for microgeneration to make the significant contribution to our energy goals that is its potential.

The strategy contains a wide range of actions, varying from the £80 million low carbon buildings capital grant programme, improvements to existing communications activity, a review of the permitted development regime to a pilot to assess the benefits of smart metering combined with microgeneration.

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