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NHS Wheelchair Provision

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The York Health Economics Consortium prepared an evaluation study of the implementation and operation of the National

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Health Service powered indoor/outdoor wheelchair scheme and the wheelchair voucher scheme. Their report was received in September 1999.

We have undertaken to make the report publicly available and shall do so in due course.

Podiatric Surgery

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their recent policy announcement on breaking down the demarcation between the medical profession and other professions and maximising the use of skills within them is applicable to podiatric surgery.[HL1368]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have recently announced that we intend to modernise the National Health Service by introducing fundamental reforms to the ways in which services are delivered. Podiatric surgery is undertaken by a small number of additionally qualified chiropodists and plays a useful role in the overall provision of orthopaedic care. The development of podiatric surgery is consistent with the Government's desire to end traditional demarcations which may inhibit the modernisation of services.

Chiropodists and Podiatrists: Prescribing Rights

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of their intention to maximise the use of the skills of the medical profession and other professions, they will reconsider the extension of prescribing rights to chiropodists and podiatrists; and[HL1369]

    Whether they have considered the findings of the Crown Report on the Review of the prescribing, supply and administration of medicines and what is the time-scale for consultation with interested parties on that report.[HL1370]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Consultation on the Review of Prescribing, Supply and Administration of Medicines took place from 8 March 1999. Following this consultation, the Government have decided to implement the main recommendations of the review. This decision was announced in a press statement on 13 March 2000, copies of which are available in the Library.

As part of the implementation process, we will consider legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows to permit supplementary prescribing by other health professionals, such as pharmacists, chiropodists and podiatrists--for example for repeat prescriptions and dose adjustments--and to move to full independent prescribing subject to the successful development of supplementary prescribing.

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Carers' Needs Assessment

Lord Williamson of Horton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, when the Carers and Disabled Children Bill becomes law, advice to statutory services will make it clear that it is not only the number of hours of contact but also the burden of care which needs to be taken into consideration in determining the ability of carers to have their needs assessed. [HL1385]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: If the Carers and Disabled Children Bill achieves Royal Assent, the Department of Health will issue policy and practice guidance on its implementation. No decisions have yet been made about the content of such guidance.

NHS Bed Occupancy

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their target for the percentage of bed occupancy in the National Health Service in the medical and surgical specialisms. [HL1460]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The National Beds Inquiry, published for consultation on 10 February, considered a number of issues relating to hospital beds including occupancy. It found that the downward trend in beds mainly reflects the reduction in average length of stay, the growing importance of day case treatments, and also the rise in the average level of bed occupancy. Its bed projections assume that occupancy rates will remain at current levels--that is about 84 per cent.

The Government's Emergency Services Action Team report in 1997 included analyses showing that in acute hospitals average bed occupancy rates over 85 per cent are associated with rapidly growing problems in handling emergency admissions. Subsequent analysis by the University of York has confirmed this conclusion.

Business Sponsorship and the Inland Revenue

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 14 February (WA 128), what mechanisms are in place to satisfy the Inland Revenue that expenditure on business sponsorship of government activity is revenue expenditure incurred wholly and exclusively for business purposes.[HL1391]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Inland Revenue examines a proportion of tax returns every year to ensure that individual and corporate taxpayers pay the correct amount of tax. Most of the returns that are

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examined in detail are selected after a risk assessment, which identifies those cases where errors are most likely, and where the amount at stake is greatest. Tax inspectors are trained to discover evasion, avoidance and technical errors by establishing the full facts and applying the correct interpretation of tax law. As part of this process they will, where appropriate, make enquiries about claims for expenditure on business sponsorship, including sponsorship of government activity.

Orissa: Cyclone Relief

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they have made to the recent cyclone in Orissa; in what form; and with the help of which United Kingdom and Indian non-governmental organisations.[HL1157]

Baroness Amos: In the immediate aftermath of the cyclones which devastated Orissa in October 1999, the British Government provided more than £3 million as emergency assistance. This was channelled through non-governmental and UN organisations and used primarily for the purchase of food, clothing and shelter materials. Details of the emergency assistance are listed below:

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (through British Red Cross Society)To meet the immediate needs of the victims of the cyclone, including the provision of food, shelter materials, clothing etc£250,000
World VisionTo provide 20,000 of the worst affected families with commodities for basic survival£200,000
Y Care InternationalTo provide emergency survival kits to 6,000 people in the "most affected" category£17,000
OxfamTo be part of a co-ordinated relief effort providing food and non-food items plus water and sanitation provision£300,000
Care InternationalTo assist the survivors of the initial impact of the cyclone who are now vulnerable to the elements, poor nutrition and illness£250,000
World Food ProgrammeProvision of food to 60,000 vulnerable households£300,000
Save the ChildrenTo provide immediate relief needs for 100,000 people in Puri district (food, blankets, shelter materials)£478,368
CARETo provide shelter materials and blankets£150,000
Christian AidProvision of shelter material and clothing for cyclone victims£330,000
To assist vulnerable families with their immediate food, clothing, medical and shelter needs (networking with Gram Vikas, a local NGO)£200,000
HelpAge InternationalTo assist older and more vulnerable victims by the provision of shelter materials, blankets and food£100,000
Organisation of Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA)To assist OCHA's co-ordination efforts£50,000
UNICEFTo provide immediate humanitarian needs, including relief and welfare, restoration of basic social services£500,000
Miscellaneous expensesAssessment mission to Orissa£25,000
Total Expenditure£3,150,368

Following the completion of the emergency phase, the Government plan to spend more than £23 million over the next six months to help the Government of Orissa meet its rehabilitation needs. This assistance will focus primarily on health, education and rural livelihoods. The funds earmarked for health (more than £3 million) are being disbursed partly through UNICEF, partly through Medecins Sans Frontieres. The education rehabilitation support (about £4 million) is being channelled mainly through UNICEF. The £16 million planned for rural livelihoods support will be disbursed partly through local non government organisations and partly through the state government.

In addition, DfID is also developing plans for longer-term rehabilitation support. DfID is considering support for rebuilding primary schools and health centres which were destroyed, to be funded through the Government of Orissa.

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