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Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps his Department has taken to consult primary care trusts to ensure they have sufficient staff to meet the 18-week waiting time commitment; 
(3) what support and guidance will be provided by his Department to primary care trusts in England in relation to the implementation of the 18-week waiting time initiative; and if he will make a statement; 
Ann Keen: The maximum 18-week waiting time applies as a national standard from 1 January 2009 onwards. The 18-week target applies to the whole period from receipt of referral made by a general practitioner or other care professional to any consultant-led service, including infertility services. There are no national plans at present to extend the scope of the 18 weeks referral to treatment target.
To support primary care trusts (PCTs) in delivery of 18 weeks a service transformation strategy has been put in place. This includes publishing 18 weeks commissioning top tips and 42 model 18 weeks commissioning pathways. These pathways support PCTs in commissioning the most effective services for their patients. The Department has provided a range of guidance including national 18 week clock rules, definitions and guides on how to apply and measure 18 week rules locally.
An 18 weeks intensive support team has been established to assist local health communities deliver the 18-week target by the end of December 2008. Copies of a step by step guide has been placed in the Library. Comprehensive information and resources on the support available to the NHS is available on a dedicated website,
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have been hospitalised following injuries caused by (a) seagulls, (b) pigeons, (c) rats and (d) other pests in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Bradshaw: This information is not available in the format requested. The following table shows the number of finished admission episodes (FAE) for those bitten by a rat in each of the last five years for which figures are available.
|Admission episodes( 1)|
|(1) FAE: A FAE is the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider.|
1. Assignment of Episodes to Years
Years are assigned by the end of the first period of care in a patients hospital stay. Please note that admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.
2. Cause CodeRat Bites*
The cause code is a supplementary code that indicates the nature of any external cause of injury, poisoning or other adverse effects.
*Rat Bites: W5Bitten by rat
3. Data Quality
HES are compiled from data sent by over 300 national health service trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data via HES processes. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain.
4. Assessing growth through time
HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. During the years that these records have been collected the NHS there have been ongoing improvements in quality and coverage. These improvements in information submitted by the NHS have been particularly marked in the earlier years and need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. Changes in NHS practice also need to be borne in mind when analysing time series. For example a number of procedures may now be undertaken in outpatient settings and may no longer be counted in the HES data. This may account for any reductions in activity over time.
5. Ungrossed Data
Figures have not been adjusted for shortfalls in data (i.e. the data are ungrossed).
Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), The Information Centre for health and social care
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the number of people with learning disabilities; what assessment he has made of the age distribution of such people; and what estimate he has made of likely equivalent figures for (a) 2018 and (b) 2028; 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department has commissioned the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics (LSE) to undertake an initial study of the projected future trends in numbers of people with learning disabilities aged 18 to 65, and possible changes to their support arrangements. This is due for completion at the end of July this year and the LSE research team is in discussion with other experts in the field about ways in which a more extensive study could be made of the number, characteristics and needs of this population group. Should this more extensive project be undertaken, it would provide better intelligence of the current and future age profile of the population.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: There are many different ways of achieving service improvement and achieving better service user outcomes in acute care without the need for mandatory accreditation. One example is star wards', a service user led initiative which focuses on improving service user experience and engagement when admitted, has been very successful in getting staff and service user ownership and action in improving service user experience in inpatient psychiatric wards.
The Government are also awaiting the results and recommendations of the Healthcare Commission's acute inpatient review, whose national report is due for publication in the summer. The review drew out four key themes: examining whether services had effective care pathways in place regarding admissions and discharges; provided individualised care which promoted recovery and inclusion; had service user and carer involvement in care planning, operational and strategic planning; and had systems, processes and facilities in place to ensure the safety of service users, visitors and staff.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children have been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in (a) Lancashire and (b) nationally in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 300W, on NHS treatment centres: Christchurch, when he expects the former NHS health centre in Saxon Square, Christchurch, to be brought back into use; and how much he expects to be paid in empty property rates before that date. 
Ann Keen: The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Foundation Trust has now decided it does not wish to bring the property back into use. Options for the early disposal of the Secretary of States interest in the property are now being explored. The empty property rates payable in 2008-09 amount to £24,024.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will take steps to ensure that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are not discriminated against in the delivery of NHS services; 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government are committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people working in or accessing services in health and social care.
The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2003) outlawing discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of sexual orientation came into force in December 2003 and any staff who consider they have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation now have legal recourse. In the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2007) the Government outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services. This means that the national health service is legally prohibited from discriminating. We also intend to broaden the duty on public sector organisations to promote equality and eliminate discrimination to cover sexual orientation in the forthcoming Equality Bill.
While it is for individual organisations in the NHS to ensure that they meet legal and ethical requirements towards those employed by them or using their services, the Department has an important role in supporting them and disseminating knowledge in this area. The Department is encouraging NHS organisations to move towards a single equality approach, and will this summer publish guidance on sexual orientation as a strand within their single equality schemes.
The Department has worked with its external stakeholder committee, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisory Group (SOGIAG), to produce a number of resources and guidance documents on employment, healthcare and sexual orientation. The Department has also sponsored a number of conferences on issues affecting LGB people in healthcare.
We are in the process of refreshing SOGIAG with a new appointments process for members. From September we will be taking forward a new programme of policy work to reduce health inequalities for LGB people.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in the (a) current and (b) planned initiatives announced by the
NHS Information Centre in its presentation to the Inaugural Supplier Forum of 7 November 2007 with regard to (i) the NHS Operating Framework, (ii) NHS comparators, (iii) practice-level prescribing data, (iv) compendium of health outcome indicators, (v) GP data extraction service, (vi) electronic staff record, (vii) financial indicators, (viii) mental health minimum dataset and (ix) social care; what new information he anticipates the NHS Information Centre making available to (A) the NHS, (B) other care providers and (C) the public as a result of each of these initiatives; with which stakeholders has the Information Centre consulted in its development of these initiatives; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Information Centre for health and social care (IC) aims to be the recognised source of relevant information to improve decision making in health and social care. This includes information to support activities and initiatives set out in the National Health Service Operating Framework, particularly around ensuring the secondary user service (SUS) becomes the standard repository for activity for performance management, reconciliation and payment by April 2009.
NHS comparators service has been developed with NHS Connecting for Health to provide a facility for NHS registered users to compare general practitioner (GP) practice-level data on hospital admissions and the quality and outcomes framework. We have expanded the range of information. Currently there are over 4,000 users registering over 80 per cent. satisfaction with the service.
The IC has produced a prescribing data consultation document entitled Wider release of NHS prescribing data (copies of this publication have been placed in the Library) which includes a feedback form and the closing date for returns is 8 August. The consultation results will then be published and any subsequent initiatives will depend on the results.
The compendium of health outcomes service has been re-procured and provides web-based information. This service will be developed to support the needs and requirements of users, particularly those involved in commissioning care.
The IC in collaboration with NHS Connecting for Health is preparing to procure a GP data extraction service (GPES). Following strict governance guidelines, GPES will co-ordinate approved data extractions from GP computer systems nationwide and provide high-quality analyses. The results will support the development of national and local policies for future patient led services. It is currently consulting with stakeholders prior to a procurement exercise.
The IC has also developed, with the Department, a number of work force financial indicators to support the comparative use of electronic staff record information. This is a web-based application which has been piloted by organisations within NHS across the Yorkshire and Humberside areas and is now being rolled out nationally.
There have been significant problems in enabling mental health minimum dataset data to flow into SUS. These problems have meant that the publication planned for April 2008 has been delayed and no data have yet been received or processed. SUS functionality is being developed for implementation later this year to enable
data to be available via SUS in 2009. An interim, alternative solution is currently being tested for receipt of annual data only but we are not yet able to confirm the timetable for delivery of the data.
The provision of new social care data will shortly commence a formal, three-month consultation, in line with national statistics requirements, in connection with a substantive review of current social care collections and publications.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his Department's accounting guidelines are on the declaration of the pay received during the tenure of acting chief executives of NHS trusts who were recruited through employment agencies. 
Ann Keen: Sir Nigel Crisp, then chief executive of the national health service, wrote to chairs of NHS organisations on 27 March 2003 asking them to strongly encourage all senior staff to give their consent for information about their remuneration to be included in the accounts. This letter made clear the Department's view that people paid from the public purse should expect to be completely open about how much they are paid. This message was reiterated in a further letter to chairs, on 19 June 2003, which asked them to monitor progress on the disclosure of this information.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions since 2001 the breach of a contract between NHS organisation and a private sector provider of clinical services has been referred to the courts; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: National health service organisations are legally distinct entities and the Department would not, as a matter of course, be involved in contractual disputes between them and private sector companies. The Department therefore does not collect information centrally on contractual disputes that are referred to the courts.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the Ministerial responsibilities are of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Lord Darzi, following publication of the NHS Next Stage Review final report. 
Dawn Primarolo: No European Union benchmarks are used when performance assessing the national health service. As set out in High Quality Care For All: NHS Next Stage Review Final Report (copies of which are already available in the Library), we believe it is important for patients, staff and the public to be able to understand how we perform compared to other healthcare systems. To do this we plan to work with other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries and with the best academic institutions in the world to agree some internationally comparable measures.
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