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7 Jun 2006 : Column 706W—continued

In this current financial year 2006-07 women's refuge centres are due to receive £2.6 million from Supporting People funding. Expenditure relating to housing benefit funding for this year will not be available until the end of this financial year.

Royal Irish Regiment

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assistance will be offered by Invest Northern Ireland to those personnel accepting redundancy terms from the Royal Irish Regiment who wish to consider starting their own business. [59525]

Mr. Hanson: The Start A Business Programme is available to entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland considering setting up a new business which will trade mainly within the Northern Ireland market.

The package of support offered to entrepreneurs encompasses assessment of business idea, training, financial and business planning, access to financial support and a subsidised web package. A small grant is also available of £400 for full-time businesses and £200 for part-time businesses.

Other programmes delivered by Invest NI are aimed at start-ups which will develop export markets and at companies who will trade globally.

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Accident and Emergency Services

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her answer of 22 May 2006, Official Report, column 1548W, on accident and emergency services, if she will list the accident and emergency departments within each type in 2005. [75060]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 5 June 2006]: Data are available at trust level rather than at departmental level. The available data have been placed in the Library.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidelines her Department provides for health trusts on the resultant costs to ambulance trusts of centralising emergency admissions in reduced numbers of accident and emergency departments. [74491]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 5 June 2006]: The provision and location of accident and emergency services is a matter for local, not central, decision. In planning local provision of A and E services, health communities are expected to observe the general principle that all emergency and urgent care should be delivered as close to home as is compatible with clinical safety.

However, the Department does set national response time requirements for ambulance trusts. It is for ambulance trusts, together with primary care trusts as commissioners of ambulance services, to ensure that these requirements are met. This includes ensuring that sufficient numbers of vehicles and staff are available to respond to 999 calls within the national response times. Considerations such as journey times should be taken into account when doing so.

Guidance on commissioning ambulance services, “Driving change: Good practice guidelines for PCTs on commissioning arrangements for emergency ambulance services and non-emergency patient transport services”, was issued by the Modernisation Agency in 2004. A copy of this document is available in the Library.

Agenda for Change

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what effect the national level discussions regarding the implementation of agenda for change for ambulance technicians and paramedics will have on services which have already made agenda for change evaluations for these professions locally. [72772]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The national discussions are in respect of ambulance services that are experiencing difficulty in concluding the job evaluation of posts. They will not have a bearing on services that have concluded these issues.

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Ambulance Services

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many public responses there were to proposals for ambulance reorganisation in Staffordshire. [71220]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The strategic health authorities for the West Midlands region received 586 written responses from members of the public regarding the proposal to establish a single ambulance service for the West Midlands region, and 139 letters of inquiry relating to the consultation. In addition a number of petitions were received.

British Liver Trust

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to give financial support to the British Liver Trust for the three years from 1 April 2006; and what indications she has given to the trust of the funding it is likely to receive through section 64 grants. [73232]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department has recently notified the British Liver Trust of the award of a grant of £40,000 per annum under section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968, to support its central administrative costs from 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2009(1).

The BLT is already in receipt of a section 64 project grant of £50,000 per annum from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2008(1) for provision of a hepatitis C and liver disease telephone helpline.

Childhood Obesity

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment she has made of whether there is a correlation between childhood obesity and obesity in later life. [74153]

Caroline Flint: Good quality scientific studies from relevant populations in the United States of America and the United Kingdom suggest that childhood obesity does appear to persist into adulthood. It should be noted that the majority of obese adults have gained weight during adulthood. However, a significant proportion of children will remain obese and become obese adults. The risk increases when one or both parents are obese. The likelihood of adult obesity also increases with the age of the child and their degree of obesity.

Children who are obese at the age of 13 are more likely to be obese as adults than children who are obese at age nine.

Epidemiological evidence has demonstrated critical times in childhood (perinatal, five to seven years and adolescence) when the development of obesity is more likely to persist into later life. The physiological mechanisms behind this are still being investigated.

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The data underline the importance of a population based obesity prevention strategy for children for both immediate and long-term health benefits. It also demonstrates that the evidence based multi-component treatment of obesity should not be delayed until adulthood.

Children's Health Services

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what audits have been carried out on the management of common acute illnesses in children in the last five years. [67645]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department’s Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) series provides a rolling audit of the national health service’s management of illnesses requiring hospital treatment, including common acute illnesses in children. The publication tables for 2004-05 are now available on the HES online website at

Less serious common acute illnesses, accounting for around 80 per cent. of all episodes of illness in childhood, are managed by parents with support as required from the primary care team. This activity is not audited centrally.

Choose and Book

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on the choose and book infrastructure. [74055]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The cost of the central infrastructure of choose and book to date is shown in the following table.

Financial year Cost (£ million)







Total spend(1)


(1 )As at 30 May 2006

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the impact on the availability of NHS Stop Smoking Services of the time scale for fully implementing the choose and book programme. [67420]

Caroline Flint: The choose and book service is currently being rolled out nationally. It supports general practitioners in offering patient choice and enables patients to book first consultant-led out-patient appointments at times that are convenient to them.

NHS Stop Smoking Services are not currently bookable through the choose and book service, although the functionality of the service would allow it. A proposal relating to this matter is due to be considered by the national clinical reference panel, which advises the choose and book programme.

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The national health service remains on target to meet its objective of 800,000 quits at four weeks over the three years to the end of March 2006. The latest figures were published in “Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England, April 2005 to September 2005”, on 13 February 2006. A copy is available in the Library.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to collect centrally data on patients’ decisions under the choose and book system; and if she will make a statement. [69045]

Caroline Flint: The choose and book service records the list of commissioned options made available to patients and the providers they ultimately book. This information forms part of patients’ clinical records and is therefore available only to those with legitimate clinical relationships with particular patients.

Aggregated booking information may be used centrally to review trends in referrals to different provider organisations, but without breaching confidentiality in relation to individual patients.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Milton Keynes (Mr. Lancaster) of 25 April 2006, Official Report, column 1071W, on choose and book, for what reasons the statistics on the Connecting for Health website of 296,655 choose and book bookings to 25 April 2006 differ from those given in the answer. [71499]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The figure of 6,823,970, quoted in the answer of 25 April 2006, is the number of first consultant-led out-patient appointments booked in the period April 2005 to January 2006. The equivalent figure for the period April 2005 to March 2006 is 8,339,293. The majority of these appointments were not booked through the choose and book service.

The figure of 296,655, quoted on the NHS Connecting for Health website, is the number of appointments booked through the choose and book service as at 23 April 2006. As at 14 May 2006, the figure stands at 369,983.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the Answer of 16 May 2006, Official Report, column 935W, on the choose and book system, how her Department will monitor whether an aspiration is being met. [73321]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department is establishing a data return to support primary care trusts (PCTs) in assessing whether aspiration payment criteria have been met for the choose and book element of the directed enhanced service (DES). The return will include utilisation data from the choose and book service and practice level referral data from PCTs.

It is for PCTs not the Department to monitor take up of the choice-related aspiration payment available under the DES.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) biomedical scientists and (b) neurologists have been appointed to the advisory panel on myalgic encephamyelitis. [74707]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: An independent working group on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) was established in 1998 to review the care and treatment of people with CFS/ME. It included representatives from a number of clinical disciplines, voluntary organisations and patients’ groups and was disbanded when it finished its work in 2002.

A list of members was included in the group’s final report, which is available in the Library and on the Department’s website at:

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what support her Department gives to chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers. [75027]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: People with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis have access to the full range of health and social services support as outlined in the national service framework for long-term conditions. This includes:

Clinicians (Information)

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to provide clinicians in NHS trusts and other facilities with access to objective analysis and advice on new drugs. [75506]

Andy Burnham: Doctors and other prescribers have access to a wide variety of information resources to support their prescribing. These include the British National Formularies, National Prescribing Centre advice and training, which includes coverage of new medicines, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence clinical guidelines, National Electronic Library for Health, the various on-line databases and reference resources, such as Medline, and various academic and professional journals, for example the British Medical Journal.

Community Hospitals

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many representations her Department has received from (a) Yorkshire Wolds and Coast Primary Care Trust, (b) East Yorkshire Primary Care Trust and (c) North and East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire Strategic Health Authority regarding community hospitals in each of the last three years; and if she will make a statement. [73579]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: Yorkshire Wolds and Coast Primary Care Trust (PCT) and East Yorkshire PCT fed public views arising from its review of community hospitals to the Department following the publication of the “Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services” White Paper. There have been no other representations to the Department from either the PCTs or from North and East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire Strategic Health Authority.

Complementary Medicine

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much NHS funding is available for non-conventional medicine in 2006-07. [74433]

Caroline Flint: Decisions on the commissioning of complementary and alternative therapies, and how much funding to allocate to these, are a matter for primary care trusts and local national health service service providers. There are, therefore, no centrally held records on spending on such therapies within the NHS.

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