Previous Section Index Home Page

16 Jun 2006 : Column 1530W—continued

Age Adjustment Percentage

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the maximum age adjustment percentage is for areas with a high proportion of people aged over 75 years. [72790]

Andy Burnham: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 17 May 2006, Official Report, columns 1117-18.


Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to introduce a target to reduce waiting times for digital hearing aids. [75895]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: We have no plans to introduce a target to reduce waiting times for digital hearing aids.

Information on the 18-week targets, including guidance on the principles and definitions and FAQs: ‘Adult hearing services and 18 weeks’ is available at:

Biological Diversity

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department plans to take to monitor the extent to which public bodies which report to her comply, from October, with their duty to conserve biodiversity in exercising their functions, under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. [74401]

Caroline Flint: Under Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, all public bodies have a duty to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in the exercising of their functions. There is no statutory obligation on Departments to monitor the extent to which public bodies comply with this duty. However, we understand the Department for Environment, Food and Rural
16 Jun 2006 : Column 1531W
Affairs is working with a wide range of partners to develop guidance for public bodies to support the implementation of this duty and will involve all relevant Departments on the development of guidance.

Care Homes

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action her Department is taking to promote positive public attitudes towards care homes. [70130]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government believes that care homes are one of a range of options that should be available for supporting people with long-term care needs. Most people want to live in their own home for as long as possible. To this end, there has been substantial investment in other care settings, such as domiciliary care and extra care housing. We believe that no one should be admitted into a care home until all other options have been explored and discussed with the service user, their carers and relatives.

However, we recognise that there will always be people who need or want the type of care that only care homes can provide. For them, care in a care home will be best suited to their needs and wishes and care homes offer them a positive choice.

The Government have introduced national minimum standards (NMS) for care homes, domiciliary care and adult placements. The NMS are intended to ensure vulnerable and older people can live in a safe environment, where their rights and dignity are respected and staff are properly trained. All care homes in England are regulated, registered and inspected by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI). CSCI regulates care homes in accordance with statutory regulations and the NMS. CSCI has strong enforcement powers and will take action to protect the welfare of residents, with the aim of raising the quality of care and level of protection for vulnerable people and ensuring that service users and their families can be confident that their welfare and interests are safeguarded.

Care Proposals

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the criteria in the letter sent to strategic health authority chief executives of 16 February entitled ‘Moving care closer to home’ apply to mental health and learning disability trusts. [77830]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 15 June 2006]: The White Paper, “Our health, our care, our say”, set out a new vision for the future of community health and social care services. Paragraph 6.43 made the following commitment:

The Department wrote to strategic health authorities on 16 February reminding them of this commitment
16 Jun 2006 : Column 1532W
and setting out practical arrangements. This letter specifically related to community hospital consultations, rather than those relating to mental health and learning disability trusts.


Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether it is her policy that the removal of specified risk material from cattle is a public health protection measure the costs of which should be met by the Government as defined in recommendation 26 of the Meat Industry Red Tape Working Group Report of December 1999. [77721]

Caroline Flint: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for policy on the financing of official controls on the removal of specified risk material from cattle. The FSA has proposed recently that charges should be phased in to gradually recover from the meat industry an increasing amount of the cost of the controls. The FSA is currently in the process of liaising with stakeholders about this matter following which there will be full public consultation.

Childhood Cocaine Addiction

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children have been treated for (a) cocaine addiction and (b) cocaine-related illnesses in each of the last five years. [75071]

Caroline Flint: The Department does not hold this information centrally.

A major national survey conducted with over 9,000 secondary school children aged 11 to 15 showed that in 2005, 2 per cent. of pupils had taken cocaine in the previous year, a figure which has not changed since 2001(1).

Childhood Eating Patterns

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research she has commissioned to study influences on childhood eating patterns. [74151]

Caroline Flint: A key component of the “Choosing Health” white paper is the commitment to develop a healthy living social marketing campaign. We have therefore undertaken an intensive desk research project, reviewing published data, alongside research findings from a range of stakeholders including Government, academia, non-governmental organisations and the commercial sector. The next phase in the development of the social marketing campaign involves commissioning quantitative and qualitative research. The plan is for this research to be completed later this year.

16 Jun 2006 : Column 1533W

Childhood Immunisation

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how primary care trusts are providing childhood immunisation services for families in areas where GPs have opted out of providing them; and if she will make a statement. [72769]

Caroline Flint: If a general practitioner (GP) opts out, then 1 per cent. is removed from the GPs global sum payment. This allows the primary care trust (PCT) to re-provide with another contractor or self-provide.

If a PCT were to re-provide, it would need to specify the performance management of those services. The PCT would be held to account for their performance, through their commissioning arrangements with service providers, by the strategic health authority.

In addition, PCTs could commission a separate local enhanced service, defining the population to be served and routes to achieve uptake.

Supporting local innovation in designing their services, or strengthening existing successes, is a priority for the Department.

Childhood Obesity

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment she has made of the relationship between childhood obesity and (a) household income, (b) parental education level, (c) hours of television watched per week and (d) hours of sport provided at school per week. [74155]

Caroline Flint: The data draw on statistics from the Health Survey for England (HSE) from 1995 to 2004 and comparative work done by the Joint Health Surveys Unit on behalf of the Department.

Table 1, which represents household income, indicates that there is some social class gradient in childhood obesity but no clear trend. There is more obesity in the two lowest quintiles than the highest.

Household income, aged two to 10 with valid body mass index (BMI) 2001-02
BMI status equivalised annual household income quintile
Highest Second Third Fourth Lowest









Aged two to 10







Aged two to 10






Joint Health Surveys Unit, National Centre for Social Research (2005).

No data are available comparing obesity prevalence and parents' education levels. However, we can use the national statistics social-economic classification (NS-SEC) which provides a social classification system that classifies groups on the basis of employment relations, based on characteristics such as career prospects, autonomy, mode of payment and period of notice.

16 Jun 2006 : Column 1534W

Table 2 shows that the children of parents in managerial and professional professions are less likely to be obese than those in semi-routine and routine professions, but there is no clear relationship between obese children and their parent's professions in other categories.

NS-SEC of household, BMI status NS-SEC of household reference person

Managerial and professional occupations




Small employers and own account workers


Lower supervisory and technical occupations


Semi-routine and routine


Joint Health Surveys Unit, National Centre for Social Research (2005).

Table 3 illustrates that the upward long-term trends in obesity prevalence coincide with the upward long-term trends in time spent playing digital games, including television watching time. These trends cannot be considered in isolation as other activities, for example the number of children driven to school, which may contribute to obesity will also have changed during this time period.

The Department is aware of the research from North America, which demonstrates calorie consumption increasing with number of hours of television watched.

Digital games
Boys Girls Percentage obese children



























Health Survey for England 1995-2004; Health Education Unit Time Series.

The HSE measures physical activity levels that are categorised as active (active for 60 minutes per day for seven days in the last week—the Government's recommended levels of physical activity) or insufficiently active (active at a lower level). This classification includes activities such as physical education and school sport, structured and unstructured play in and out of school time and active travel to and from school.

Table 4 shows that there is a weak correlation between obesity and physical activity levels, with small differences in the percentage of obese children classified as active or inactive.

Active Inactive







Joint Health Surveys Unit, National Centre for Social Research (2005).

Next Section Index Home Page