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Mr. Meale: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will establish a national representative body through which local involvement networks members may enable patients and the public to engage and influence health and social care policy. 
Ann Keen: The Government recognise the importance of providing opportunities for all members of society to be engaged in, and have their say on, national policy. There is a number of ways in which patients, carers, service users and the public can influence health and social care policy at a national level, including through the Department's strong tradition of working in partnership with third sector organisations.
Through the new Third Sector Investment programme, specifically the Strategic Partnership programme, the Department aims to invest in an appropriate number of strategic partners from the third sector. Partners will work collaboratively together and with the Department to advise and inform the Department about key issues in the health and social care field affecting the third sector organisations and
the people on behalf of whom they advocate and to whom they deliver services. The programme also aims to develop the capability and capacity in the third sector to fully engage with the wider health and social care reform agenda.
The Department has also supported the establishment of National Voices which offers the opportunity to engage the multiple voices of service users and carers in the development of health and social care policy, particularly those from harder to hear communities, through their representative organisations.
Mr. Bradshaw: The independent health care regulator, the Healthcare Commission, is responsible for assessing the performance of NHS Trusts. The results of its Annual Health Check for 2007-08 were published in October. The Health Check is the culmination of various streams of work, which take place throughout the year. The cost of the Annual Health Check, in relation to the NHS is £11.6 million.
Management of the Annual Health Check programme;
Assessment of core standards; and
Targets and annual ratings.
Detailed information on the Commissions expenditure on its main business areas is given in its accounts which are published as part of its annual report. The annual report for 2007-08 was published on 8 July.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what meetings his Department has had with (a) patient groups, (b) professional groups and (c) the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on the Quality and Outcomes Framework following the publication of NHS Next Stage Review: Our vision for primary and community care. 
Mr. Bradshaw: My officials have met with representatives from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the Royal College of General Practitioners to discuss proposals-for a new process for the Quality and Outcomes Framework and discussions have also taken place with the BMA. We launched a public consultation on the proposed new process for developing and reviewing clinical indicators in the Quality and Outcomes Framework to be led by NICE on 30 October 2008. The Department is holding five national stakeholder events with patient and professional groups, NHS commissioners and other stakeholders in order to consult them on how the new process should work.
The Information Centre for health and social care published the numbers of general ophthalmic services ophthalmic practitioners per 100,000 population, as at 31 December 2007, in the General Ophthalmic Services: Workforce Statistics for England and Wales: 31 December 2007 report. This report was published on 20 November 2008 and has been placed in the Library. It is also available on the website of the Information Centre for health and social care at:
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of all (a) inpatient and (b) outpatient appointments were made using NHS Directs national Choose and Book appointments line in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Choose and Book Appointment Line primarily books first consultant out-patient appointments. In a very small number of cases, other services available on Choose and Book might be booked by the Appointments Line, which do not differentiate these cases. Information on the proportion of bookings made by Choose and Book Appointment Line for first consultant outpatients in the past 36 months is in the following table.
|Bookings made by the Choose and Book Appointments Line (TAL) operated by NHS Direct on behalf of the national health service for first out - patient (OP) appointment as a proportion of total referrals made for first out - patien t appointment, consultant-led, a ll specialties, England|
(1 )NHS Direct
(2 )GP referrals madeDepartment of Health Monthly Activity Return, Commissioner based
(3) Bookings made through TAL may include small numbers of cases booked to services other than first outpatient (eg assessments, allied health professionals and day cases), which cannot be differentiated.
(4) Latest published data for first out-patient appointments is September 2008.
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many calls were received on the national Choose and Book appointments line in each of the last 36 months; and what the average number of calls per booked appointment was. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The number of calls received by the Choose and Book Appointments Line (TAL) operated by NHS Direct on behalf of the national health service and the average number of calls per booked appointment are shown in the following table.
|Number of calls received by the Choose and Book Appointments Line (TAL) operated by NHS Direct on behalf of the national health service|
|2005 to 2006|
|2006 to 2007|
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