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Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with representatives from (a) the USA, (b) Canada, (c) Australia and (d) New Zealand on nuclear test veterans and sharing of best practice. 
Mr. Watson: I have had no discussions with these countries on nuclear test veterans and sharing of best practice. MOD officials maintain contact with these countries on a wide range of veterans issues, mainly under the auspices of the Senior International Forum. We are of course aware of the recent Australian and New Zealand Reports on the health of nuclear test veterans. We are studying these carefully and have been in touch with officials from both countries with respect to their findings.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether (a) NATO commanders and officials and (b) British (i) commanders and officials and (ii) Ministers were consulted by (A) US commanders and (B) the US Administration before Operation Mountain Thrust in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the possible barriers that veterans face when attempting to access (a) housing and (b) employment on leaving the armed forces. 
Mr. Watson: We are working closely with the Department for Committees and Local Government to enable service personnel to qualify under the local connection provisions of the Housing Act 1996, in order to overcome the barriers common to both servicemen and their civilian counterparts in access to affordable or social housing. The Joint Service Housing Advice Office offers advice and information about mortgages and affordable home ownership solutions including shared equity schemes. For those single personnel in danger of homelessness, it can facilitate access to temporary accommodation.
The success of Service leavers who use the career transition partnership as part of their resettlement preparation in securing employment after dischargeover 50 per cent. within one month of discharge, rising to over 95 per cent. six months after departuresuggests that there are few barriers to employment of most service personnel. Coaching provided by the Partnership often gives service leavers a competitive edge over other candidates and many of the personal attributes inherent in service culture are highly prized by civilian employers.
The Career Transition Partnership has an effective marketing arm that carefully targets prospective employers who can offer quality jobs to service leavers. Its marketing strategy includes dispelling negative misconceptions about service personnel and their ability to adapt to the civilian workplace. Employers who engage service leavers are seldom disappointed and tend to seek more when vacancies arise.
Individuals who depart under early service leaver arrangements may face more of a challenge. Those that discharge from recruit and basic professional training establishments before completing courses of instruction are unlikely to have gained the transferable competencies and professional qualifications of those service personnel who have entered productive military service. They therefore are more likely to have to contend with the same barriers to employment as confront civilians with a comparable lack of marketable skills. However, on discharge all ex-regular
military personnel, regardless of age, have immediate access to the Department of Work and Pensions new deal, which includes occupational and basic skills training.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether her Department has accepted the recommendations of the 2002 Royal College of Physicians working party on isolated acute medical services. 
Andy Burnham [holding answer 14 July 2006]: At the time of publication, the Government noted this report, which was based on a survey conducted in spring 2001 and made a valuable contribution to the development of best practice in this area.
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Mr. Ivan Lewis: Scan quality is independently audited every six months by the clinical guardian of the contract, Professor Adrian Dixon, national health service sponsors and Alliance Medical Ltd.s head of clinical governance. In addition, two audits have been produced by the Royal College of Radiologists in conjunction with the Department. The audits are available at the Royal College of Radiologists website at:
The second audit, which was published in April 2006, again found that there was little overall difference in the clinical opinion between independent service provider (Alliance Medical Ltd.) and the NHS reports and, that there was little overall difference in the technical quality of the magnetic resonance examinations between the two services overall.
Quality is monitored consistently throughout the contract as an integral part of the clinical governance framework. Any discrepancies or concerns are audited on a case by case basis by the clinical guardian of the contract.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the likely effect on costs to (a) local authority social services and (b) the NHS of caring for patients with mild Alzheimers disease of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellences proposal to restrict treatment for such patients. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: No such estimate has been made. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) appraisal of these drugs has not yet concluded. Until NICE issues revised guidance to the national health service, its original guidance issued in 2001 continues to apply.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to ensure that voluntary, private and public providers of care receive the same levels of fee and remuneration for publicly-funded care places. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The principles for contracting for care services set out in Building Capacity and Partnerships in Care include fairness to all service providers and the encouragement of fair competition.
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people employed in the care of elderly and vulnerable people in West Lancashire have subsequently been found to have criminal records and to be unsuitable for such employment; and what steps she has taken to remedy this situation; 
(2) what steps her Department takes to ensure that private companies providing care in West Lancashire for (a) the elderly and (b) vulnerable adults ensure that all their employees are checked by the Criminal Records Bureau before commencing employment. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: I understand from the Criminal Records Bureau that figures for people with criminal records found to be unsuitable for employment in the care of elderly and vulnerable people specifically in West Lancashire are not available.
All care homes, domiciliary care agencies, adult placements schemes and nurses agencies in England are regulated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), which is the independent regulator for social care. The CSCI is responsible for registering and inspecting the regulated social care sector in accordance with statutory regulations and national minimum standards to ensure consistency and improve the quality of life and level of protection for the most vulnerable people in society.
Regulated social care providers are required to conduct rigorous pre-employment checks on prospective staff including obtaining a Criminal Records Bureau Disclosure. Since 26 July 2004, there has also been a requirement for prospective employees in these areas to be checked against the protection of vulnerable adults list before starting work.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to ensure that people who have (i) multiple sclerosis and (ii) other long-term and fluctuating conditions receive access to social care at an early stage in the progression of their condition. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The national service framework for long-term conditions, published in March 2005, has as a key quality requirement the need to ensure people living with long-term conditions are offered a timely integrated assessment of their individual health and social care needs.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department has not made any recent assessment of the uniformity of access to social care in different parts of the country. Fair access to care services (FACS) is designed to deliver uniformity of access within council areas, not between councils. Decisions about eligibility for services are made by individual councils in response to local need and according to criteria set out in the FACS guidance Fair Access to Care Services Guidance on Eligibility Criteria for Adult Social Care. The guidance is contained in local authority circular (2002)13 and available on the Department's website at: www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/01/96/41/04019641.pdf
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will increase the amount spent on equipment used by social care workers to care for individuals with (a) multiple sclerosis and (b) other conditions resulting in mobility problems. 
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