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25 May 2006 : Column 2002W—continued

Hospital Bed Days

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) emergency and (b) non-emergency bed days there were in (i) England and (ii) each strategic health authority in each year since 1997. [47934]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: The information has been placed in the Library. Care and treatment needs have changed considerably in this period and will continue to do so.

Infant Mortality

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made to date in meeting the 10 per cent. reduction target in the gap in infant mortality rates between routine and manual socio-economic groups in (a) Peterborough, (b) the Eastern Region and (c) England; and if she will make a statement. [73358]

Caroline Flint: Infant mortality has fallen for the whole population since the 1997-99 target baseline, including for routine and manual groups.

The target is not formally monitored at local or regional level as the annual number of infant deaths in the routine and manual group in a local area would be very small. Even after aggregating a number of years’ data, the rates would show fluctuations over time too large for them to be statistically reliable.

The latest available national data for England and Wales is for the period 2002-04. This indicates that the overall infant mortality rate for all those within a valid socio-economic group was 4.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the rate for those in routine and manual groups was 5.9 per 1,000 live births. The rate is 19 per cent. higher among the routine and manual group compared to the whole population. This rate is unchanged since 2001-03.

The implementation of the children’s national service framework for children, young people and maternity services, the priority being given to tackling health inequalities and greater local focus in “Choosing Health, Our health, our care, our say”, and the national health service reforms will deliver significant progress in tackling this target as part of a continuing overall reduction in infant mortality.

Information Technology

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the ability of the NHS IT programme to respond to developments in information technology. [70119]

Caroline Flint: The national programme for information technology's (NPfIT) services and systems are based on modern, robust tools and technologies which have been tried and tested widely in business and in the IT industry. They are based on industry standard platforms that have been underpinned by enterprise wide arrangements that achieved large cost savings for the taxpayer and the national health service with market leading IT products from Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, Novell and others. They use industry standards in whose development the Department's NHS connecting for health agency takes an active role, where appropriate.

NPfIT contracts specify service requirements and service levels rather than the underlying technical
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components. However, each contract contains an obligation for innovation and to keep up to date the technology employed including, as a minimum, a refresh of the relevant hardware and software platforms. Selection of the programme's suppliers was in part informed by their technical development plans and track record for continuing product development. In that way, the applications and technologies procured will not remain static but keep pace with functional needs and technical developments.

NHS connecting for health, under its research services contract with Gartner, maintains an awareness of emerging technology. The agency has also held a technology innovation forum involving contracted IT suppliers and those with whom enterprise-wide arrangements are in place to promote technical innovation for the NHS. In specific areas where patient safety, infection control or clinical utility is an issue, or where innovation to address new policy requirements is needed, NHS connecting for health has taken an active role in the definition of standards in hardware and software to meet these requirements.

In addition, an active programme of research and development is delivered on behalf of the programme by leading industry partners. This brings together the skills of the IT industry, the opportunities offered by NHS connecting for health, and NHS research and development skills to develop and evaluate new products and services of use to the NHS and of global interest. Its objective is to stimulate, support and evaluate innovations in the use of IT to improve patient experience, clinical practice and the process of care that could be generally used when the full functionality of the NPfIT will be universally available.

Maternity Services

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the timetable is for issuing guidance on home birth maternity services; and whether the Healthcare Commission will be producing that guidance. [72434]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 22 May 2006]: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence are developing clinical guidelines on “Intrapartum Care: Management and delivery of care to women in labour”. The guideline will cover the appropriate place of birth, including care of women giving birth at home.

Under the provisional schedule, a stakeholder consultation on the draft guideline will be held between 22 June and 29 August 2006, with the final guideline being issued in February 2007.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on migraine; and if she will make a statement. [71974]

Andy Burnham: The main agency through which the Government supports medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an
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independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Innovation.

The MRC is not currently funding research specifically relating to migraine. However, a strategic grant award to Dr. Leone Ridsdale, King's College, London for a prospective study on diagnostic management referral and one year outcome for patients with headache in primary care has recently been completed. The aim of this study was to provide evidence about the accuracy of diagnosis, the prognosis, reasons for referral, and the economic costs for patients and society.

The Department funds research to support policy and to provide the evidence needed to underpin quality improvement and service development in the national health service and through its health technology assessment programme has supported a pragmatic, randomised trial into the use of acupuncture for migraine and headache in primary care; and a randomised placebo controlled trial of propranolol and Pizotifen in preventing migraine in children.

Over 75 per cent. of the Department's total expenditure on health research is devolved to and
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managed by NHS organisations. Details of individual projects, including a number concerned with migraine, are available on the national research register at:

Ministerial Visits

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many official visits each Minister in her Department has made to (a) dental practices, (b) opticians, (c) pharmacies, (d) general practitioner surgeries, (e) care homes, (f) community hospitals, (g) genito-urinary medicine clinics, (h) ambulance trusts, (i) mental health trusts, (j) rehabilitation services and (k) stroke units since May 2005; and what the purpose was of each visit. [60585]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The information requested, up to and including March 2006, is shown in the following table.


Dental practices









General practitioner surgeries



Care homes


Community hospitals



Genito-urinary medicine clinics



Ambulance trusts


Mental health trusts




Rehabilitation services




Stroke units


Notes: (1). Including 1 primary care centre (2. )All PCCs SofS - Secretary of State for Health MS(HS) - Minister of State for Health MS(R) - Minister of State for Reform MS(DQ) - Minister of State for Delivery and Quality MS(PH) - Minister of State for Public Health PS(CS) - Parliamentary Under Secretary for Care Services

Ministerial visits and staff engagement are a key component of the Department's communication strategy. The purpose of visits is to gain a greater understanding of the challenges and successes experienced by staff, patients, carers and users in the national health service and social care economy. Visits also provide an opportunity to engage with frontline staff and patients.

Neo-natal Nursing

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many neo-natal nursing staff are employed in the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire strategic health authority area. [73303]

Andy Burnham: The number of neo-natal nursing staff employed in the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire strategic health authority (SHA) is not collected centrally.

The numbers of qualified maternity nursing staff, including neo-natal nurses in the SHA area, are shown in the following table.

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National health service hospital and community health services: qualified maternity nursing staff in the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA area by organisation as at 30 September 2005

Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA


Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust


Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust


Huntingdonshire PCT


Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust


James Paget Healthcare NHS Trust


Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Trust


Norfolk And Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust


Peterborough Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust


Source: The Information Centre for health and social care non-medical workforce census 2005

NHS Appointments Commission

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to the answer of 16 November 2005, Official Report, column 1299W, on Gloucestershire Primary Care Trusts, from what date the NHS Appointments Commission gained responsibility for the appointment of chairs and board members of primary care trusts; and what criteria she used to assess the suitability of the candidates before she appointed the (a) Chairman and (b) non-executive directors of the West Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust prior to that date; [73221]

(2) whether the NHS Appointments Commission will appoint all the chairmen and board members of the new primary care trusts; what criteria will be used to make those appointments; and what timetable will be followed. [72754]

Ms Rosie Winterton: [holding answers 24 May 2006 and 23 May 2006]: The NHS Appointments Commission was established in April 2001 and began making appointments to the national health service bodies in 2002. I can confirm that the NHS Appointments Commission will be appointing all the chairmen and non-executive board members of the new primary care trusts (PCTs). I have asked the Commission's chairman to write to the hon. Member setting out the criteria that have been used to make PCT appointments, those used for the new PCTs and the timetable for the appointments.

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