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Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) target and (b) actual average waiting time is for people requiring a new digital hearing aid from the point of referral from GP to final fitting of the hearing aid in England. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis:
The most complex audiology cases will be covered by the target of treatment within
18 weeks of referral by December 2008, and the remaining routine adult hearing loss cases should be assessed within six weeks by March 2008, in line with the diagnostic waiting time milestone on which local commissioning plans are based. It is also good practice for the subsequent hearing aid fitting to be carried out soon after or at the same time as assessment.
The information on actual average waiting time for people requiring a new digital hearing aid from the point of referral to general practitioner for final fitting is not held centrally. However, the median wait for audiology assessments is 23 weeks.
The national audiology framework Improving Access to Audiology Services in England, was published on 6 March 2007, and copies are available in the Library. It sets out clear guidance to the national health service on how to reduce waiting times and how to provide the additional 300,000 pathways that are needed in the run-up to December 2008 to make a maximum wait of 18 weeks from referral to treatment possible for all audiology referrals. It aims to mitigate the risk to 18-week delivery and create a sustainable service model for audiology for the long term.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding her Department provided to (a) childrens and (b) adults hospices in each of the last five years for which figures are available; how much she expects to be spent in future years; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: This information is not available centrally. The level of funding a hospice receives is a matter for local negotiation between the local primary care trust, who are responsible for commissioning and funding palliative care services locally, and the hospice.
The Government have delivered on their commitment to make an additional £50 million per annum available for specialist palliative care for adults. The money is now recurrent in PCT baseline allocations. In April 2007, we announced the allocation of £40 million capital funds for adults hospices to improve their physical environments.
In September 2006, a fund of up to £10 million was also announced to support Marie Curie Cancer Cares major capital modernisation programme of hospices in North London and Birmingham. The business case has been approved, although the final details have yet to be agreed.
Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria were used to reach the recent decision to postpone the building of a childrens and maternity hospital in Leeds; and whether she was directly consulted during the process leading up to the decision. 
No decision has been made on any part of the Making Leeds Better proposals. The entire health community remains committed to finding a workable solution to improve childrens and maternity services in Leeds.
Yorkshire and the Humber strategic health authority (SHA) has asked Leeds primary care trust (PCT) to review concerns about affordability and to examine all the options available for childrens and maternity services in Leeds. The PCT will present a full project plan to the SHA at the end of April.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 23 March 2007, Official Report, column 1194W, on hospital waiting lists, what assessment she has made of the statistical significance of the moderate correlation between the secondary sector clinical targets and service initial positions in 2003-04 and the age-needs index. 
Andy Burnham: The distance between several secondary sector service targets and the service initial positions in March 2003-04 is moderately correlated to the age/needs index: the primary care trust health economies with low age/needs had modestly further to travel to achieve the targets. However, numerous parts of the country with low age/needs did not have far to travel in meeting these targets. The correlation is not a perfect one (with correlation co-efficients ranging from -0.28 in the case of distance to the accident and emergency four hour wait and age/needs to -0.13 in the case of distance to the out-patient booking targets and age/needs). The reasons behind the relationship are complex.
Secondary sector under-performance in low age/needs areas is likely to have existed for some time prior to March 2003-04. By raising the quality of care to uniform national standards, the Government have significantly improved the services provided to patients in these areas.
The age and need indices, and the interactions between them, are currently being reviewed by independent academic researchers under the auspices of the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation. A new age and need adjustment for weighted capitation may emerge from this research for resource allocation in 2008-09.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time was for (a) in-patient, (b) day case and (c) out-patient appointments at each hospital in London in (i) 1992, (ii) 1997, (iii) 2001, (iv) 2005 and (v) the most recent year for which figures are available. 
|Table 1: Provider based median waiting time information, London NHS Trusts|
|Median waiting time (weeks) month end|
|March 1992||March 1997|
|Organisation code||Organisation||In-patient admission ordinary||In-patient admission daycase||Out-patient appointment||In-patient admission ordinary||In-patient admission daycase||Out-patient appointment|
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