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16 Jan 2007 : Column 1086W—continued

NHS Finance

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the value of the budget is for commissioning specialised services to be transferred from her Department to the national health service in the 2007-08 financial year. [113013]

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Andy Burnham: The overall budget for nationally commissioned specialised healthcare services in 2007-08 is £346.4 million, of which £233.4 million will be transferred from the Department to the national health service, with the remainder coming from previously agreed transfers from primary care trust allocations. A further transfer in respect of staff who manage the programme is currently being finalised.

NHS Targets

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what mechanisms are in place to ensure accuracy and probity in the reporting of the performance of NHS organisations against targets; and what sanctions exist to deter abuse of performance measures. [108715]

Andy Burnham: All performance monitoring returns required by the Department are cleared by the review of central returns process. Subsequently, data standards and definitions are developed, with guidance on form completion issued and a central query service provided to the national health service.

NHS trusts and commissioners are responsible for the accuracy of their data returns, which in addition to local audit will be subject to processes such as the Audit Commission spot checks.

Deliberate misreporting of waiting list data is inexcusable and we have made it very clear that serious consequences will follow any individual or trusts that seek to manipulate their performance data.

Pharmaceutical Products

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the likely financial effect upon the NHS of changes to the distribution of pharmaceutical products by (a) AstraZeneca and (b) Lilly. [113388]

Caroline Flint: Officials understand that neither company has finalised any changes to their distribution arrangements.

The Department will monitor any new arrangements. If the changes result in shortages, disruptions to supply, any additional costs to the national health service, or has a detrimental affect on funding pharmacy contractors then the Department will seek to ensure the corrective action is taken.

Productivity Top Tips

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will place in the Library a copy of Productivity Top Tips, referred to on page 123 of her Department’s annual report 2006. [115729]

Andy Burnham: The document is called “Delivering Quality and Value: Focus on Productivity and Efficiency” and was published by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement. It is available at:

A copy has been placed in the Library.

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The further set of improvement guides mentioned in the annual report is called “Delivering Quality and Value: Focus on High Volume Care” and is available at:

Referral-to-treatment Waiting Times

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she intends to publish referral-to-treatment waiting times. [115004]

Andy Burnham: Voluntary collection and reporting of referral to treatment (RTT) data has been under way since autumn 2006. Mandatory national RTT waiting time collection for admitted patients begins this month, and for non-admitted patients in April. Publication will begin as soon as the data are of sufficient quality. For the admitted data this is likely to be in the spring; for the non-admitted data in the summer.

The national health service undertook a baseline data research exercise in summer 2006 involving an estimation methodology that looked at hospital attendance and admission records from earlier in the year. The results, which do not have the status of official or national statistics are available on the 18 weeks website ( and suggest that, nationally, in early 2006, the pathways of 35 per cent. of admitted and 70-80 per cent. of non-admitted patients were completed within 18 weeks.

Young People's Development Programme

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has for the funding of the Young People's Development Programme; if she will take steps to maintain funding for the Programme after March 2007; and if she will make a statement. [113051]

Caroline Flint: The Young People's Development Programme was set up as a three year pilot. The intention has always been to embed the lessons learned into mainstream activity. The National Youth Agency and Department are supporting the 27 projects in making the case for funding in future years from their local authority areas on the basis that the Young People's Development Programme will form part of the new targeted youth support arrangements being taken forward by the Department for Education and Skills.

Northern Ireland

Adoption Agencies

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether local authority commissioned adoption agencies run by religious bodies will be subject to the Equality Act Regulations in Northern Ireland. [115862]

Mr. Hanson: Yes. All providers of public services, including religious adoption agencies, where they are under a contract with a public authority, will be subject to the Regulations introduced under the Equality Act 2006.

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If the services are being provided solely by the religious bodies, then they could be exempted from the Regulations by virtue of Regulation 16.

Altnagelvin Hospital

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made with the investigation being carried out by the Coroner at the request of Altnagelvin Hospital into the sudden deaths of four babies at the hospital; when the Coroner is expected to report; and if he will make a statement. [115542]

Bridget Prentice: I have been asked to reply.

The Coroners Service issued a statement on 15 December concerning this matter. I have arranged for a copy of this to be placed in the Library of the House. It is not possible to give a timescale at this stage, but I have been assured that the experts involved in assisting the Senior Coroner’s investigation are conscious of the need to deal with the matter as quickly as possible.

Alzheimer's Disease

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the drug Reminyl is available on the NHS prescribed list of medicines for all patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in Northern Ireland; and how many patients are being treated with the drug in Northern Ireland. [115559]

Paul Goggins: Reminyl is available on health service prescription in Northern Ireland following examination and recommendation by a consultant taking into account evidence based practice and the needs of the patient.

The number of patients being treated with Reminyl is not recorded centrally and is therefore not known.

Ambulance Stations

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland which ambulance stations in each of the health boards in Northern Ireland provide (a) 24-hour coverage and (b) less than 24-hour coverage. [115769]

Paul Goggins: The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service provides a 24 hour presence in every ambulance station throughout Northern Ireland with the exception of Castlederg Ambulance Station, which operates one Accident and Emergency resource from Monday to Friday 8 am to 5 pm and 11 pm to 8 am. No cover is provided from this station from 5 pm to 11 pm on a daily basis. Also, there is no day crew in operation on Sundays in Castlederg although night-time cover is provided from 11 pm to 8 am. On those occasions when there is no cover provided from Castlederg ambulance cover is provided by the nearest available ambulance.


Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many incidents of arson there were in the (a) Lisburn Road and (b) University and Holyland areas in each of the last five years. [115858]

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Paul Goggins: The number of occasions on which the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has been called upon to deal with incidents of arson in the areas specified is set out in the following table.

Lisburn road University and Holyland Total

























Belfast Festival

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to ensure the sustainable future of Belfast Festival at Queens. [115849]

Maria Eagle: I am involved in on-going discussions with representatives of the Queen’s University of Belfast on the future of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

Careers Guidance Diploma

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many of those who have completed the Diploma in Careers Guidance have since been promoted within the Northern Ireland civil service. [115852]

Maria Eagle: 20 employees of the Department for Employment and Learning completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Guidance (QCG) in the first year of the course (2002-03). Following completion of the course, 12 graduates were recruited directly into the Careers Service in 2004-05. A further six employees completed four modules of the course during 2005-06.

Of a total of 38 employees, one has subsequently been promoted.

Child Poverty

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many children under the age of 16 from (a) Protestant and (b) Roman Catholic community background were living in poverty in each of the last five years. [113807]

Mr. Hanson: It is too early to determine reliable trends broken down by age and religion from the recently introduced Family Resources Survey. However, by amalgamating two years’ data together it is possible to provide an estimate of the number of Roman Catholic and Protestant children in poverty. The average figures for 2003-04 and 2004-05 are presented as follows in terms of both before housing costs and after housing costs.

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2003-04 and 2004-05 BHC AHC




Roman Catholic






The Government’s anti-poverty and social inclusion strategy ‘Lifetime Opportunities’ sets specific targets for the elimination of child poverty by 2020.

In order to achieve this, resources and efforts will continue to be targeted on the basis of objective need.

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+ /-4,900



+ /-6,100




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