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Care Homes

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health from what date shared rooms in independent care homes for the elderly and mentally ill must form no more than 20 per cent. of places in such homes; and if he will make a statement. [143851]

Mr. Hutton: We announced in November an extension to the deadline for implementing the new national minimum standard for care homes for older people regarding double rooms. In order to ensure that sufficient care home capacity is maintained, existing care homes for older people that do not already provide 80 per cent. of places in single rooms now have until 1 April 2007 to do so. Multi-occupancy rooms will be phased out by April 2002.

Hospital Waiting Lists (Mid-Essex)

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason the average length of hospital waiting lists for the period May 1997 to September 2000 in Mid-Essex were different from the length of waiting lists on 31 March 1997. [143114]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 20 December 2000]: Across the National Health Service in England there has been a significant reduction in waiting lists--in October 2000, there were approximately 133,000 fewer patients waiting than in March 1997 and 54,600 fewer than waiting in October 1999.

Mid-Essex Hospital Services National Health Service Trust has experienced significant and sustained pressures in relation to waiting lists and emergency care and it is recognised that the trust's performance on waiting lists has been below average. Action has been and continues to be

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taken to address these pressures, including the introduction of a waiting list policy, the introduction of a clinical management structure and the appointment of a number of new members of the executive management team. The waiting list at the end of October was 21 per cent. below its peak in 1998, and work continues to improve this position still further.

Nursing Homes

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health who the members of the group of experts established to consider the funding of nursing care will be; how they will be selected; and if he will ensure that the group contains representation from voluntary sector nursing homes. [143758]

Mr. Hutton: I invited a number of key stakeholder organisations concerned with care in nursing homes to join a group helping the Chief Nursing Officer ensure that systems for implementing policy on the provision of nursing care in nursing homes are developed and applied consistently across the country. The organisations represented are:

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An extended group, including frontline workers, met for an all day meeting on 20 December, a number of representatives from voluntary sector nursing homes were invited and will continue to be involved.

Bed-blocking (North Yorkshire)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on the incidence of bed-blocking in York and North Yorkshire. [143839]

Mr. Hutton: We are aware of the recent difficulties regarding the delayed discharge of patients from acute beds in York and North Yorkshire. We have recently injected a substantial amount of new money into the local health and social service systems which will enable agencies to work together to provide the appropriate levels of care for those who need it.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he is taking and what resources he will provide to ease bed blocking in North Yorkshire; and if he will make a statement. [144441]

Mr. Hutton: We have allocated £62 million extra resources to health authorities to address winter staffing issues and support transitional or interim care to minimise "blocked beds" and prevent unnecessary emergency admissions. The money has been allocated on the basis of joint plans with social services. Each National Health Service region has appointed a team of change agents, including representatives of the independent sector, to target areas with (among other indicators) increasing delayed discharge rates and support them in achieving sustainable reversals to these figures.

The Northern and Yorkshire Region was allocated £6.6 million in October for schemes to enhance capacity in intermediate care, transitional care and related cases. Of this, the North Yorkshire Health Authority received £546,000 to facilitate discharges. More recently the North Yorkshire Health Authority received £1.086 million for winter capacity and of this £717,000 went to social care.

Additionally, the Department asked the Winter Emergency Services Team (WEST) to examine the situation in North Yorkshire. WEST visited the North Yorkshire Health and Social Care Community and York Health Services NHS Trust on 6 November and, while it made several suggestions for action, it found that systems and relationships were robust.

GM Foods

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what tests are being carried out by the Government to determine the impact of GM foods on human health. [143882]

Ms Stuart: No genetically modified food can be marketed in the European Union until it has undergone a rigorous safety assessment under the European Commission Novel Foods Regulation (258/97). In the United Kingdom this assessment is performed by the independent Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP), which publishes information on applications on their website.

The ACNFP has also considered the practicality of post-market health surveillance for all novel foods, including GM foods. Based on their advice a feasibility study started on 1 July 2000, which will test the

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robustness of data collection procedures. This is expected to take around 21 months to complete, the results will then be assessed by the ACNFP.

Social Services Care

Mr. Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department has commissioned any cost-benefit analysis of social services care provision for people remaining in their homes. [144467]

Mr. Hutton: The Department commissioned an evaluation of community care for elderly people, which has been carried out by the Personal Social Services Research Unit. A draft report was completed in April 1998. The study is not yet completed and further reports are expected.

Mr. Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will indicate for each local authority the cost, as a proportion of total revenue, of administering charges for social services care. [144466]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not available centrally.


Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list for each health authority area (a) the number of infections with and (b) the number of deaths attributable to MRSA in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [144060]

Mr. Denham: Aggregate data on numbers of incidents of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) voluntarily submitted by National Health Service trusts for specialist microbiological tests since 1996 are shown in the table. These data are routinely available on a regional basis only. Data on Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemias (blood infections) showing the proportion resistant to methicillin in England and Wales are published quarterly by the Public Health Laboratory Service in the Communicable Disease Report, copies of which are available in the Library. More comprehensive information about bacteraemias, including MRSA, will be collected from all acute trusts from 1 April 2001 and data will be published from 1 April 2002.

There are no centrally held statistics on deaths caused by hospital acquired infections (HAI), including MRSA. Different doctors will have different views on the role of HAI in a patient's death as MRSA infection can take the form of many different diseases from trivial skin infection to pneumonia or septicaemia. In addition, the causative micro-organism is often not specified on the death certificate.

Incidents of MRSA 1996-2000

Incidents of MRSA
Anglia and Oxford237297223
North Thames539544289
North West176259215
Northern and Yorkshire150224202
South and West206254101
South Thames421385220
West Midlands12110269

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Incidents of MRSA
Northern and Yorkshire17040
North West18050
South East17060
South West4010
West Midlands3030


1. For 1996 and the first half of 1997 data have been amalgamated to the approximate boundaries of the new Regional Office areas. This allows for comparison with subsequent years.

2. An incident is three or more patients infected or colonised by the same strain of MRSA in the same month from the same hospital.

3. The criteria for submission of isolates of MRSA (and other isolates of staphylococcus aureus) to the PHLS for specialist tests have been revised twice since 1996 (in January 1998 and in January 2000).

4. These revised criteria have led to a fall in the number of incidents of MRSA that were reported to the PHLS.

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