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Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the arrangements put in place by primary healthcare trusts to inform health practitioners of veterans priority treatment entitlement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: An update to existing guidance issued on 12 December 2007 to the NHS on priority treatment for war pensioners for any condition related to their service (HSG(97)21) extended entitlement to all veterans from 1 January 2008. This included a requirement that all GPs and clinical staff in PCTs and acute and mental health trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts were made aware of the changes. In line with the Governments policy of devolving decisions on how change is delivered in NHS organisations, it is appropriate for PCTs to decide how to take this forward. The Operating Framework published earlier this month draws attention to the need to take account of the special circumstances of veterans as part of the commissioning process. A copy has already been placed in the Library.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) consumers and (b) dispensers of the decision to delay the abolition of the Hearing Aid Council (HAC) until 31 March 2010; and whether HAC will be given additional powers to protect consumers during the period before the switch of responsibilities from it to the Health Professions Council. 
Ann Keen: The Department, the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, the Hearing Aid Council and the Health Professions Council are working towards the required legislation to allow the closure of the Hearing Aid Council and the transfer of its register.
The Health Professions Council has powers to protect consumers that the Hearing Aid Council does not. The Hearing Aid Council have estimated that the additional cost to the industry is £1,107 and this is tax deductible.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many delayed discharges there were in (a) each strategic health authority area, (b) each primary
care trust area and (c) England in each of the last five years, broken down by (i) reason for delay and (ii) age of patient; and how many patients in each case were occupying an acute hospital bed. 
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many bed nights patients who were ready for discharge spent in hospital in the last 12 months; and what the estimated total cost to the NHS of these delayed discharges was. 
Phil Hope [holding answer 10 December 2008]: In the year ending 16 November 2008 there was a total of 1,737,475 bed-days as a result of delayed discharges from both acute and non-acute hospital beds in England. This represents a fall of almost 10 per cent. over the previous 12 months.
We have made no estimate of the cost of these delayed discharges. Since January 2004, if a patient remains in hospital because social services have not provided the assessments or services the patient or their carer needs to be safely discharged, the local authority is liable to pay the national health service a charge per day of delay. The charge has been set at a level higher than the cost of providing services to support discharge to act as an incentive to councils to improve their assessment and service provision.
Guidelines issued by the Department to support trusts to implement parking policies does advise that trusts should have schemes in place to ensure that patients and carers who visit hospital regularly are not disadvantaged. These schemes may include charging exemptions, concessionary or capped rates. Cancer patients in particular should benefit from these schemes.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average length of waiting lists in each category for NHS patients in the North East was in (a) 1997, (b) 2001 and (c) 2005; and what the length of each list was at the latest date for which figures are available. 
|Specialty||March 1997||March 2001||March 2005||September 2007|
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