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Maternity Services

22. Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to improve maternity services. [503]

Yvette Cooper: We are improving maternity services through the development of a major new National Service Framework for Children, including maternity services to set national standards of care. We are also investing an additional £100 million to improve and modernise maternity facilities and have set up a Maternity and Neonatal Workforce Working Group to make recommendations on work force issues and best models for the configuration of maternity services.

NHS (Private Finance)

23. Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent studies his Department has commissioned, undertaken and reviewed concerning the use of private finance within the NHS. [504]

Mr. Hutton: The Department of Health reviews all PFI projects through the Business Case approval system. To be approved, the Business Case must clearly demonstrate that, overall, the private finance option is better value for money when compared to the publicly funded alternative, the Public Sector Comparator (PSC), and that it provides improved facilities for the NHS. NHS Trusts are required to monitor performance throughout the lifetime of the PFI contract.

Because of PFI, six major new hospitals have opened and another 17 are under construction, representing capital investment in the NHS of over £2 billion.

Cancer Services

25. Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve cancer services. [506]

Yvette Cooper: We are investing additional funding in priority areas. £280 million is available for improvements to cancer services this year, rising to £570 million by 2003-04, and we are reforming the way in which cancer care is delivered through the implementation of the NHS Cancer Plan.

Junior Doctors' Hours

26. Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are the average hours worked by junior doctors in the NHS. [R] [507]

Mr. Hutton: We are working hard to bring junior doctors' hours down without damaging patient care so that doctors are safe, healthy and able to give their best to the NHS.

At 30 September 2000, 62 per cent. of junior doctors satisfied the New Deal hours and rest requirements of working no more than 56 hours a week on average.

Data showing the position at 31 March 2001 will be published shortly.

Haemophilia Services

29. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to meet the Haemophilia Society to discuss service improvements. [510]

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Yvette Cooper: There are no plans for such a meeting, nor have the Haemophilia Society requested one. However, departmental officials are meeting members of the Haemophilia Alliance, which includes the Haemophilia Society, on Friday 13 July to discuss the Alliance's draft National Service Specification for Haemophilia and Related Conditions.

Health Professions Council

30. Sir Robert Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he intends to implement the order that will create the Health Professions Council. [511]

Mr. Hutton: We published the draft order to create the Health Professions Council on 2 April 2001. The statutory consultation period ends on 1 July 2001. We shall then finalise the order taking account of issues raised during consultation and, subject to the legislative timetable and the approval of Parliament, we expect the order to be made by the end of December 2001. The Health Professions Council, which already exists in shadow form, will be formally established from 1 April 2002.

Operating Department Practitioners

32. Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on introducing a registration scheme for operating department practitioners. [513]

Mr. Hutton: A registration scheme for operating department practitioners has been in effect since 6 April 2000.

Waiting Lists

33. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what priority measures he has set in place to help reduce hospital waiting lists. [514]

Mr. Hutton: In managing waiting lists, we expect the National Health Service to treat patients according to their clinical priority and need. We have issued very clear guidance to the NHS on access to secondary care services. The first line of this guidance stated that:

We have repeatedly made it clear that those patients who are in greatest need continue to be treated first.


35. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the introduction of in-cab mapping systems in ambulances. [516]

Ms Blears: We recognise that satellite navigation equipment for ambulance vehicles can help crews to pinpoint addresses and speed up response times, particularly to life threatening emergencies. We have, therefore, made £3.4 million available for emergency ambulance services to equip all of their front line vehicles with in-cab mapping systems by March 2002 at the latest.

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This investment will help ambulance services to meet their target to respond to 75 per cent. of category A calls within eight minutes.

Health Visitors

36. Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent investigation his Department has made into disparities across health authorities in the provision of health visitors per 100 children under the age of five years. [517]

Mr. Hutton: The Department has not made any recent comparative investigations across health authorities into the provision of health visitors based on the number of children under five years of age. Local health improvement programmes include an assessment of the health needs of local populations, and the funding of primary care group investment plans is aligned with priorities identified by the local health improvement plan. It is the responsibility of local health providers to plan their own staffing requirements to meet local need accordingly. Primary care groups and trusts have huge potential to improve people's health and prevent illness, which includes providing appropriate health visiting services.


38. Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for the future funding of hospices. [519]

Yvette Cooper: The NHS Cancer Plan set out our commitment to increase National Health Service investment in specialist palliative care by £50 million by 2004. Health authority allocations in 2001-02 included a total of £255 million to support the first year of local implementation of the NHS Cancer Plan. Priorities for this year include the development of costed strategic plans for palliative care.

Cancer networks are currently developing detailed service delivery plans, which will identify current position and set out action plans for further development across all services including palliative care. These will be completed by the autumn.

Matters relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are for the devolved Administrations.

Minor Injuries Unit (Camborne)

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for a minor injuries unit in the Redruth Camborne area. [501]

Ms Blears: It is the responsibility of the local health community to plan local services. I understand that West of Cornwall Primary Care Trust are developing plans to create a minor injuries unit at Redruth and Camborne Community Hospital.

Dementia Care

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate his Department has made of the availability of home-based and residential-based specialist dementia care services. [508]

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Jacqui Smith: The Audit Commission report "Forget Me Not" published in January 2000 found that the availability of support to people with dementia both at home and in residential care was variable. The National Service Framework for Older People, published in March, has addressed many of these concerns. The NSF has set out clear standards and service models to improve access to and improve the quality of mental health services for older people.

Primary Care

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve primary care services. [509]

Mr. Hutton: We have provided PCT/Gs with £100 million to develop and invest in new ways of working that further improve the range and quality of services delivered to patients. In addition we have committed substantial further resources in the years ahead to extend and improve access to primary care services. We have created Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) as organisations that bring together the skills and talents of general practice and community professionals to secure and provide responsive high quality services to their population.

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