Previous Section Index Home Page

19 Oct 2007 : Column 1386W—continued

Diabetes: Sight Impaired

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what proportion of diabetes patients in (a) Hertfordshire and (b) England went blind in the last year for which figures are available; what trends he expects in these numbers in the future; and if he will make a statement. [157517]

Ann Keen: The information is not available in the format requested. However, according to the statistical publication, “Registered Blind and Partially Sighted People Year ending 31 March 2006”, during the year ending March 2006, there were around 11,000 new registrations to the register of blind people, a fall of 17 per cent. compared to 2003. Some councils have reported that new computer systems and data cleansing has reduced the number of new registrations.

In Hertfordshire, during the year ending March 2006, 185 were added to the register of blind people.

Registration of blindness is voluntary. However, it is a pre-condition for the receipt of certain financial benefits. It is this factor which gives greater credibility to the ‘Register of the Blind’ than to the ‘Register of the Partially Sighted’ and to other disability registration records maintained by councils, where the voluntary principle also applies.

Elderly: Abuse

Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to prevent elder abuse. [159457]

Ann Keen: The Government regard abuse of vulnerable and older people as unacceptable in all its forms and is determined to root it out. We are addressing the issue in a variety of ways.

We set out standards for care and treatment for the national health service and social care services via the national service frameworks for older people and mental health and the White Paper, ‘Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability’, copies of which are available in the Library.

We introduced regulations and national minimum standards for care homes, domiciliary care agencies and adult placements. These are intended to ensure vulnerable and older people can live in a safe environment, where their rights and dignity are respected, staff are properly trained and care is of the requisite quality.

We have created independent regulators, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Healthcare Commission, and given them the powers they need to take action against poorly performing providers or where abuse occurs. Ultimately, they have the power to close services down.

19 Oct 2007 : Column 1387W

We expect local authorities to play their part. ‘No Secrets’, published by the Department in 2000 provides a complete definition of abuse and a framework for councils to work with the police, the NHS and regulators to tackle abuse and prevent it from occurring. On June 14 this year, we also announced a review of the ‘No Secrets’ guidance. The case for legislation to protect vulnerable adults will be considered as part of the review.

Local authorities have been given specific responsibilities. Statutory guidance issued in May 2006 required them to ensure that directors of adult social services maintain a clear organisational and operational focus on safeguarding vulnerable adults and that relevant statutory requirements and other national standards are met, including Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) requirements. Local authorities must make sure the director of adult social services has the powers and resources necessary to encourage a culture of vigilance against the possibility of adult abuse.

We introduced the POVA scheme in July 2004, which requires staff who provide personal care to older people in their own homes or in care homes to be subject to statutory checks, including checks of their criminal record. The scheme, which operates as a work force ban, prevents dangerous or unscrupulous people from gaining access to older and vulnerable people in care homes or being cared for in their own homes.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005, which came into force on 1 October 2007, introduces a new criminal offence of ill treatment or wilful neglect of a person who lacks capacity.

The Government support the work of Action on Elder Abuse (AEA). AEA has been awarded a three-year Section 64 grant, totalling £360,000. This grant covers the three-year period from 2007 to 2009 and is to help fund central administrative costs.

We are introducing a new centralised vetting and barring scheme for people working with children and vulnerable people. This scheme, as set out in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, will extend the coverage of the existing barring schemes and draw on wider sources of information to provide a more comprehensive and consistent measure of protection for vulnerable groups across a wide range of settings, including the whole of social care and the NHS. The new scheme will make it far more difficult for abusers to gain access to some of the most vulnerable groups in society and will be a significant step forward.


Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment his Department has made of the implementation of the Government Action Plan for Epilepsy; and when the plan will be reviewed; [155950]

(2) what recent assessment his Department has made of access for patients with epilepsy; and how many patients are on the waiting list. [155951]

Ann Keen: We have made no assessment of the implementation of the action plan for epilepsy, and have no current plans to review this plan. The National Service Framework for Long-term Conditions is now
19 Oct 2007 : Column 1388W
the key policy document for improving health and social care services for neurological conditions, including epilepsy.

Following the publication of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report “Wasted Money, Wasted Lives”, an adjournment debate was held to highlight the findings of this report into the current state of epilepsy services. During this debate I accepted an invitation to meet with the APPG to discuss their findings.

We have made no recent assessment of access for patients with epilepsy. Information on the number of people with epilepsy on waiting lists is not available centrally.

Eyesight: Testing

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what proportion of (a) pre-school children, (b) children under five years and (c) children under 12 years received eye tests in each primary care trust in the last 12 months. [158637]

Ann Keen: Information is not collected for the age bands requested. Information on children aged 0 to 15 years will be available at primary care trust (PCT) level in the publication “General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics for England and Wales: April 2007-September 2007”. This will be published by March 2008.

The total number of sight tests paid for in England by PCTs for children aged 0-15 years for the year ending 31 March 2007 is 2,113,480. This represents 20.2 per cent. of total sight tests provided in England for this period. The percentage of children aged 0-15 having a sight test was 21.8 per cent. in 2006-07, although a few children may have had more than one sight test during the year.

These data are extracted from table B4 of the General Ophthalmic Services: Activity Statistics for England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2007 report.

This report, published by the Information Centre for health and social care, is available in the Library and is also available at:

Health Services

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the evidential basis was for the statement made by the Prime Minister that the Darzi review is the largest consultation on the future of the NHS ever conducted, as stated in his article of 18 September 2007 at [156788]

Ann Keen: The National Health Service Next Stage Review is an ongoing process of engagement. The scale of these discussions is unprecedented with engagement in nine strategic health authorities involving clinicians, other staff, patients, the public and other key local stakeholders, including social care, local government and the voluntary sector.

19 Oct 2007 : Column 1389W

Health Services: Autism

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the ability of the service plans of local commissioners to meet the needs of people with autism in (a) Portsmouth and (b) Hampshire; and if he will make a statement; [158553]

(2) what plans he has to ensure that local commissioners (a) demonstrate their plans to provide services to people with autism and (b) implement those plans with adequate resources in (i) Portsmouth and (ii) Hampshire; and if he will make a statement. [158554]

Ann Keen: The provision of services for people with autism is a matter for the local national health service.

Heart Disease: Death

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information his Department holds on survival rates of victims of (a) cardiac arrest and (b) heart attack which take place outside a hospital. [157009]

Ann Keen: We do not hold national figures on survival after out of hospital cardiac arrest but London ambulance service analyses from 2005-06 show a survival rate of 10.9 per cent. for arrests witnessed by bystanders in London.

Treatment of heart attacks is audited nationally through the Myocardial Infarction National Audit Project, which has links to mortality data held by the Office for National Statistics. It is therefore possible to determine the mortality rate for those suffering a heart attack who receive treatment. Latest available figures (2005-06) indicate that the survival rate (all ages) for those who experience a heart attack and receive treatment is just over 90 per cent. For under 75-year-olds who experience a heart attack there is just over 95 per cent. chance of survival.

Hospices: Finance

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will increase the level of funding from the NHS to hospices. [158662]

Ann Keen: We are developing an End of Life Care Strategy, which will deliver increased choice to all adults regardless of their condition about where they live and die. The strategy will, among many other issues, look at the role of and funding for hospices.

Hospital Beds: Paediatrics

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance has been issued by his Department on bed occupancy rates for paediatric units. [158209]

Ann Keen: No guidance has been issued. An appropriate occupancy rate will need to be able to react to changing local circumstances, such as local demand
19 Oct 2007 : Column 1390W
and staff availability and thereby ensure the delivery of a safe and flexible service. Such issues are best determined locally.

Hospitals: Infectious Diseases

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department has issued to hospital trusts on the management and eradication of hospital-acquired infections. [159665]

Ann Keen: Reducing health care associated infections (HCAIs), including meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile is a priority for the Department.

Extensive guidance has been issued over the years and is summarised in the reference section of The Health Act 2006, “Code of Practice for the Prevention and Control of Health Care Associated Infections”. A copy has been placed in the Library and is also available at:

In addition, recent guidance includes the following:

A professional letter on health care associated infections including particularly infection caused by Clostridium difficile was issued to all chief executives of NHS acute trusts, primary care trusts and strategic health authorities on 7 December 2006. This letter set out the policies and clinical practices needed to control Clostridium difficile and also included very simple operational guidance for managers. A copy has been placed in the Library and is also available at:

This followed up the joint professional letter from the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Nursing Officer issued in December 2005 reminding them of the importance of this infection and listed the key actions to control Clostridium difficile and highlighted the guidance available. The letter has been placed in the Library and is available at:

19 Oct 2007 : Column 1391W

Influenza: Vaccination

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the take up by pensioners in Peterborough constituency of influenza vaccinations in each year since 1997. [159050]

Dawn Primarolo: Information is not available in the format requested. However, data on the uptake of flu vaccine for those aged 65 and over was collected for the first time from 2000-01.

The following table shows the percentage of those aged 65 and over who received a flu vaccine in the Peterborough primary care trust (PCT) area for which data are available.

PCT Percentage of those aged 65 and over who received flu vaccine


Data collected by health authority



Data collected by health authority



South Peterborough


North Peterborough



South Peterborough


North Peterborough



South Peterborough


North Peterborough



South Peterborough


North Peterborough





(1) Not available in the format requested

Next Section Index Home Page