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Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to improve inpatient health care services for people with learning difficulties, with particular reference to Wirral West constituency; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department recognises that people with learning disabilities or mental health problems have faced significant physical health inequalities. Promoting Equality, published in March 2007, set out the Department's action plan to tackle the inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities in accessing primary care.
developed and published a framework to support primary care trusts (PCTs) in commissioning primary care services for people with learning disabilities, including annual health checks;
developed a preferred framework for health checks, which the valuing people support team will be promoting at regional events this autumn; and
published guidance on the commissioning of specialist learning disability health services.
The Department has worked with the Disability Rights Commission to take forward the actions outlined in Promoting Equality and will continue to work with the new Commission for Equalities and Human Rights.
Guidance on the commissioning of specialist learning disability health services was published in October 2007 by the Department. To support the dissemination of the guidance and address the issues raised by the Healthcare Commission audit, the valuing people support team within the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP), in conjunction with the Healthcare Commission, have planned three events across the country.
The events will be held in February and March and are aimed primarily at commissioners and providers. The events will cover the roll-out of the guidance and how it can be used to help respond to the issues raised by the audit. The events are intended to provide commissioners and providers with the necessary information to address any concerns in their locality.
The North West strategic health authority reports that Wirral PCT has recently published a five-year strategy identifying services for people with learning disabilities as a priority. An additional £0.5 million will be invested over the period of the strategy. Since 1999, the Wirral PCT and the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have invested in the refurbishment and new build of two assessment and treatment units, with one further new unit scheduled to be completed in November 2009.
A number of initiatives are under way; for example, close working between inpatient units and specialist community services and primary care services to ensure a seamless service for people with learning disabilities.
Local services are benchmarked against the Healthcare Commission recommendations following inquiries into services at the Cornwall Partnership NHS trust and Sutton and Merton PCT. An action plan is being implemented to ensure high quality services for people with learning disabilities.
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer17 January 2008]: This Government have taken a variety of steps to reduce referral to treatment (RTT) times, underpinned by record levels of investment and delivered through the hard work of national health service staff. Initially focused on reducing waits for individual stages of treatment, these include:
delivering a pledge to reduce the waiting list by 100,000. The waiting list is now at its lowest level since records began;
reducing the number of patients waiting over 13 weeks for a first out-patient appointment following general practitioner referral from over 338,000 in 1997 to less than 100 at the end of November 2007;
reducing over six month in-patient waits from over 283,000 in 1997 to 77 at the end of November 2007; and
introducing a diagnostic waiting time data collection, which has seen a reduction in the average waiting time from 6.8 weeks in April 2006 to 2.9 weeks at the end of November 2007.
These improvements have laid a solid base on which to reduce RTT times for all consultant-led elective care to a maximum of 18 weeks by December 2008. Latest data show that this pledge is already being delivered to over half of all admitted patients (patients who require admission to hospital for treatment) and over three quarters of non-admitted patients.
Mr. Bradshaw: Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health National Health Service Trust's public consultation for NHS foundation trust (NHSFT) status is due to be completed on 16 January 2008. We are informed that the trust will then discuss the timescale for continuing their application for NHSFT status with NHS London.
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect of the fertility rate projections published by the Office for National Statistics on 23 October 2007 on (a) future workforce requirements for midwifery and (b) the number of places provided for student midwives in the future. 
Ann Keen: Local national health service organisations are responsible for the development of maternity services, ensuring that they meet the future needs of their local population and that there are sufficient staff, with the right skills.
The 2007-08 Operating Framework requires all NHS organisations to undertake a review of their maternity services, which included primary care trusts (PCTs) assessing the work force capacity required to deliver Maternity Matters. We have built on this requirement within the Operating Framework 2008-09, which states
that PCTs should aim to ensure that sufficient numbers of maternity staff and neo-natal teams are in place to meet local needs.
Local plans will need to consider a range of issues, including the projected number of births in their area to determine the work force capacity required to support the increased number of births and the implementation of Maternity Matters.
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 17 January 2008]: The national health service information governance toolkit, established in 2003, is a web-based resource developed by the Department, which enables NHS organisations to measure their compliance with a range of information governance requirements and best practice, including standards in records management. In this respect it is underpinned by the Departments best practice guidanceRecords Management: NHS Code of Practice, published in April 2006, and supports the Healthcare Commissions NHS Standards for Better Health, many of which require quality and integrity of record-keeping systems.
Those bodies responsible for external monitoring of NHS performance, for example strategic health authorities and the Healthcare Commission, play a key role in ensuring that effective systems are in place to ensure conformity with the relevant requirements and standards.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what dates, in each of the last five years, the NHS hospital and community health services non-medical workforce census was published; and on what date this years publication is expected to be published. 
Ann Keen: The national health service hospital and community health services non-medical work force census results are scheduled for publication in March. The publication date will be confirmed in February.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff in his Department worked on the prevention and management of obesity in each of the last five financial years for which figures are available, broken down by payband. 
Dawn Primarolo: Obesity is a complex, multi-factoral problem. Given the complexity and scale of the problem and the requirement for comprehensive action, the Department's obesity, nutrition and physical activity teams have worked jointly with a large number of different partners, including Government at central and local level and external stakeholders such as the commercial and voluntary sectors, on the prevention and management of obesity.
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what studies his Department has commissioned into child obesity levels in the North West and their implications for the future health of people in the region. 
Dawn Primarolo: The prevalence of childhood obesity is measured in the North West through the National Child Measurement Programme. This is a national programme through which the height and weight of children in reception (four and five-year-olds) and year 6 (10 and 11-year-olds) throughout the country are measured. This data is used to inform local planning and commissioning of services for children as well as providing population-level surveillance data to allow analysis of trends in growth patterns and obesity.
Assessment of the potential health impact will be made through a range of national studies. In particular, the Department has established the National Child Measurement Programme (which will report North West figures in 2008) as well as the Health Survey for England to measure obesity levels throughout England.
The North West strategic health authority reports that there are a number of actions being taken forward locally to help reduce overweight and obesity in the North West. This includes the development of two e-learning modules to provide flexible learning for front-line primary care staff in the region to enable them to support patients to reduce their levels of weight and obesity. The aim of these are to ensure that important messages about diet, physical activity and behavioural changes are consistent, high quality and that interventions are based in primary care settings across the North West.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department has taken to improve the (a) level, (b) quality and (c) accessibility of information and support offered to people with osteoporosis in the last 12 months. 
Ann Keen [holding answer 17 January 2008]: We have taken no specific steps in the last 12 months to improve the level, quality or accessibility to information and support offered to those living with osteoporosis.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the (a) level, (b) quality and (c) accessibility of information and support offered to people with osteoporosis in (i) the Stockport Primary Care Trust area and (ii) England; 
Ann Keen [holding answer 17 January 2008]: We have made no assessment of the level, quality and accessibility of information and support, or the effectiveness of the provision of treatment, for those people living with osteoporosis in the Stockport primary care trust area, or in England.
Ann Keen [holding answer 17 January 2008]: Prior to the introduction of the new home oxygen service on 1 February 2006, patients received their oxygen through pharmacies and oxygen concentrator suppliers. Patient data prior to the introduction of the new service in 2006 are not held centrally.
The full transition to the new service was completed in November 2006. During transition the pharmacies continued to supply patients, therefore records from this period do not accurately reflect patient numbers. The first accurate patient data are available from January 2007 onwards. These data reflect the total number of patients receiving oxygen at home.
|January 2007||January 2008|
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 17 January 2008]: The current suppliers to the Home Oxygen Service are Air Products, Air Liquide and BOC. Air Liquide acquired Linde UK Gas on 31 May 2007, and Allied Respiratory on 30 September 2007, who were previous additional oxygen suppliers.
With the introduction of the new Home Oxygen Service on 1 February 2006, the service contract requires the suppliers to meet specific response times for each oxygen service provided under the contract.
emergency or urgent supply of oxygen to be delivered within four hours of receipt of an order from a healthcare professional;
an order supporting the discharge of a patient from hospital to be delivered on the day following receipt of the order or on a date specified by the healthcare professional in the order; and
an order for short burst oxygen therapy, long-term oxygen therapy, or an ambulatory oxygen service to be provided within three working days of receipt of an order either from a healthcare professional or from the patient directly.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what percentage of Barnet patients appointments were made through the choose and book system in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08 to date; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The number and percentage of Barnet primary care trusts general practitioner (GP) referrals to first out-patient appointments booked through the choose and book system was 13,634 (20 per cent.) in 2006-07 and 14,364 (25 per cent.) in the first nine months of 2007-08 (April to the end of December). This compares with national averages of 27 per cent. in 2006-07 and 39 per cent. in 2007-08 to date.
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the average charge made to hospital patients to access personal television facilities; and what steps hospitals are taking to ensure that use of such facilities does not have an adverse effect on other patients. 
The service providers set their own charges. The Department is not party to the contracts which exist between the service providers and the individual national health service trusts. If patients do not wish to or are unable to afford the cost of the bedside television, they can still watch the free to view television in the hospital day room or communal areas.
It is a matter for each individual trust and the service providers to ensure that the bedside systems are operated with minimum disruption to other patients. Each bedside system is equipped with personal headphones to ensure that noise from the television is kept to a minimum and the screens can be turned off when not in use.
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