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20 Jun 2006 : Column 1794W—continued

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research her Department (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake into the reasons for trends in the early medical abortion rate in England and Wales between 2004 and 2005; and if she will make a statement. [75640]

Caroline Flint: The Department has not undertaken research into the reasons for trends in early medical abortion and has no plans to do so.

Medical abortion is safe, avoids the need for anaesthesia and surgery and offers women a choice of method. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ evidence-based guideline ‘The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion (2004)’ encourages abortion services to offer a choice of recommended methods for each gestation band.

There has been a continuing upward trend in medical abortions since 1991 when Mifegyne was licensed for use in the United Kingdom. In 2004, 28 per cent. of the abortions performed under nine weeks gestation were medical abortions.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make it her policy to issue a written ministerial statement to announce the publication of the abortion statistics; and if she will make a statement; [75649]

(2) what the publication date was of the abortion statistics in each of the last five years; [75650]

(3) if she will make it her policy to send an embargoed copy of each year's annual abortion statistics to those organisations known to her Department to (a) support and (b) oppose abortion; and if she will make a statement. [77566]

Caroline Flint: Abortion statistics for the last five years were published on the following dates:

The annual abortion statistics publication is a National Statistics (NS) product, the publication is released in accordance with the NS Protocol on Release Practices. The 2005 abortion statistics bulletin
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for England and Wales has been pre-announced for publication in July 2006 on the Department's website.

Sending embargoed copies of statistical publications to organisations prior to the official release date and time is contrary to best practice as set out in the NS Protocol. Best practice is to make the publication, equally available to all, at the same time and the statistics are released as soon as practicable once they and the accompanying commentary are fit for purpose. We therefore do not intend to issue embargoed copies of the annual abortion statistics publication to any organisation.

In addition, the Head of Statistics Profession at the Department has now determined the release date and time for the “Abortion Statistics, England and Wales 2005” publication. This will be on Tuesday 4 July at 9.30 am. The publication will include detailed commentary of the results, reflecting current departmental policy and hence, we have no plans to issue a ministerial statement. On the day of publication, a statistical press release will be issued releasing the figures and providing a web link to the website.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people have been admitted to hospital due to asthma in each (a) health authority and (b) primary care trust in England for each of the last five years; [76861]

(2) what the total cost was to the NHS of treating people with asthma for each year since 1997; [76862]

(3) what measures the Department is taking to reduce emergency hospital admissions for people with asthma; and if she will make a statement. [76863]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Data on the number of people admitted to hospital with the primary diagnosis of asthma, in each strategic health authority and primary care trust over the last five years have been placed in the Library.

Information on the total cost to the national health service of treating people with asthma is not collected.

The NHS Improvement Plan set out the Government’s priority to improve care for people with long-term conditions by moving away from reactive care based in acute systems, towards a systematic, patient-centred approach.

The national public service agreement target focuses on improving health outcomes for people with long-term conditions, including asthma, by offering a personalised care plan for vulnerable people most at risk, and reducing emergency bed days by 5 per cent., by 2008 through improved care in primary and community settings.

To take this forward, ‘Supporting People with Long-Term Conditions’, published January 2005, sets out a new NHS and social care model designed to help local NHS and social care organisations improve care for people with long-term conditions. By 2007, there will be some 3,000 community matrons co-ordinating care for around 250,000 people.

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Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in Bexleyheath and Crayford are diagnosed with autism; and how many of them are children. [78068]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Information on the number of people including children in Bexleyheath and Crayford who are diagnosed with autism is not available centrally.

Care Homes

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what complaints procedures there are for those in a (a) private and (b) NHS care home. [77286]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Under the Care Homes Regulations 2001, care homes are required to establish complaints procedures for service users or persons acting on their behalf. The regulations apply equally to homes run by all providers, including local authorities, private companies or individuals, voluntary organisations and the national health service.

The national minimum standards (NMS) for care homes, which are available in the Library, include specific requirements for homes to have complaints procedures for service users, relatives and friends. The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) must take the NMS into account when inspecting care homes to ensure that they comply with the Care Standards Act 2000.

Details of complaints procedures should be supplied to all service users, or those acting on their behalf if requested. Complaints procedures must be simple, clear and accessible and appropriate to service users' needs. Complaints should be responded to within a maximum of 28 days and detailed records should be kept, which should include details of investigations and any action taken.

Service users whose care is arranged by their local authority (LA) are also entitled to pursue complaints about the way the LA has fulfilled its function regarding the provision of services to meet the needs of the individual via the LA's complaints procedure.

All service users and their representatives have a further right to refer matters to CSCI and then to the parliamentary ombudsman for further investigation if they are not satisfied with the way their complaints are dealt with.

Care in the Community

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding will be made available to local authorities to pay for care in the community over the next three years; and if she will make a statement. [74267]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department does not hold this information nationally or for individual local authorities. Council funding for adult social services is
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derived from a number of sources: a share of overall formula grant allocated by the Department for Communities and Local Government, specific grants distributed by the Department, revenue from council tax, income from fees and charges and the re-prioritisation of funds on the basis of local decision making. The most recent allocation of funds for adults’ social services was made in December 2005 and covers the two financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08.

As most of the Government funding for adult social care is allocated without conditions, it is not possible to identify the proportion of that funding that may be attributable to care in the community. Local authorities have a significant degree of flexibility to manage and direct their resources in accordance with local priorities and the needs of the communities to which they are accountable.

Carers' Grant

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) in what circumstances a local authority may refuse to pay carers’ grant to (a) individuals and (b) organisations supporting carers; [78062]

(2) whether local authorities are permitted to use the carers’ grant to support the provision of day centres; [78063]

(3) whether she plans to extend carers’ grant beyond 2008; [78064]

(4) what funding is planned to help with the provision of respite care; [78065]

(5) what options are available to individuals for the use they make of carers’ grant; and what role local authorities play in ensuring choice is available. [78066]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: This Government introduced the carers’ grant in 1999 to support councils in providing breaks and other services for carers in England. The grant is not paid to individuals but paid each year to councils as a specific formula grant.

Councils can use the grant to provide a range of services for carers in their area depending on local demand and need. This may include commissioning day care services if this is what is needed locally. Councils will want to ensure that the services they commission provide good quality services that will meet carers’ assessed needs. Councils should ensure that individuals have as much choice as possible about the services they are offered.

Ministers have yet to decide whether the carers grant will continue after March 2008.

Local councils can use the carers grant to provide short breaks for carers as well as a range of other services to support them. The grant in 2006-07 is £185 million. In addition, in our health and social care White Paper “Our health, our care, our say” we commit to ensure that short-term, home-based respite support is established for carers in crisis or emergency situations.

Carter Report

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to issue a detailed
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response to Sir David Carter’s report and recommendations reviewing specialised services in the NHS; and if she will make a statement. [73305]

Andy Burnham: We support the approach in the independent report from the Review of Commissioning Arrangements for Specialised Services chaired by Sir David Carter. This comprehensive report contains a significant number of helpful proposals for improving the access to and quality of specialised services for all patients with rare conditions. We are considering the details of the report carefully and will take forward the recommendations in the Commissioning Framework, which we expect to publish in the summer.

Children's Health Services

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of whether a primary care trust is complying with its responsibilities under the “Every Child Matters” initiative where it is refusing to accept referrals for paediatric speech and language therapy. [67662]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: No assessment has been carried out centrally. Access to speech and language therapy is a matter for primary care trusts, which have responsibility for commissioning services to implement the national standards as identified in the national service framework for children, young people and maternity services and the “Every Child Matters: Change for Children” programme.

Cottage Hospitals

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the impact on social services care in the community programme of closing cottage hospitals; and if she will make a statement. [74266]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Decisions on the role of cottage hospitals in local healthcare provision are matters for primary care trusts and strategic health authorities in consultation with local populations.

The White Paper, “Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: a new Direction for Community Services”, made it clear to national health service organisations that community hospital facilities and the integrated health and social care services they provide should not be lost in response to short-term budgetary pressures that are not related to the viability of the community facility itself.

Debt Collectors

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) her Department and (b) its (i) executive agencies and (ii) non-departmental public bodies use the services of private debt collectors. [71075]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: As most debtors of the Department and its executive agencies are other public bodies it is not deemed appropriate to use a debt collection agency. Information relating to non-departmental bodies is not held centrally.


Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment her Department has made of the oral health of the population in (a) Peterborough constituency, (b) the East of England and (c) England. [77921]

Andy Burnham: The information available centrally shows that in 2003-04 the average number of decayed, missing or filled teeth among five-year-olds in the area of North Peterborough primary care trust is 1.78. This compares with 0.9 in South Peterborough, 1.21 in the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire strategic health authority area and 1.49 in England as a whole. People living in some parts of Eastern England receive the benefits to oral health from a seam of naturally occurring fluoride in water which runs from Hartlepool in Durham to Chelmsford in Essex. Peterborough however does not receive either natural or artificially fluoridated water.

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to implement the recommendations of the Medical Devices Expert Group in respect of the provision to patients of statements of conformity for dental appliances. [77576]

Andy Burnham: The proposal to provide patients with statements of conformity for dental appliances is currently under negotiation in the Council of Ministers working group that is reviewing the Medical Devices Directive 93/42/EC. Once the revisions have been agreed and incorporated into the directive the changes will be implemented into United Kingdom law within the laid down timescale for transposition.

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has in place for the inspection of dental laboratories located in (a) China, (b) Turkey, (c) India and (d) South Africa which manufacture dental appliances for use in the UK. [77577]

Andy Burnham: The manufacturer of any custom-made dental appliance should ensure that it complies with the requirements of the Medical Devices Regulations before placing the device on the United Kingdom (UK) market. Where the manufacturer is based outside the European Community this would include appointing an authorised representative to register on their behalf with the member state competent authority where they have their registered place of business. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency conducts an annual programme of inspections of custom-made appliance manufacturers and authorised representatives based in the UK selected at random.

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Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many inspections of dental laboratories were carried out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and its predecessors in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [77578]

Andy Burnham: The number of inspections of dental laboratories carried out under the Medical Devices Regulations are as follows:

Number of inspections











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