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Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if Campath has received approval from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence; what plans he has to increase its availability to NHS patients; and if he will make a statement. [1417]

Yvette Cooper: Alemtuzumab (Campath, Berlex Laboratories) is not currently licensed for use in the United Kingdom and has not been considered for the institute's work programme.

Neo-natal Hearing Screening

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department will provide guidance to health service providers carrying out universal neo-natal hearing screening about the need to inform other statutory authorities about the detection of deafness. [1344]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 2 July 2001]: A pilot scheme to evaluate the practicalities of introducing universal neo-natal hearing screening is currently under way in 20 health authorities in England. It includes active participation of all key stakeholders including other statutory authorities. One of the aspects that the pilot scheme will examine is how to develop and recognise the role of education and social services authorities in the delivery of services for deaf and hard of hearing babies. The pilot evaluation will also inform protocols and good practice for national implementation.

Strategic Review, Newcastle

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to approve (a) the hospital regeneration project at the Royal Victoria infirmary site, Newcastle and (b) the new northern centre for cancer treatment; and what the target date for completion of each is. [2074]

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Mr. Hutton: The outline business cases for the capital schemes to complete the implementation of the Newcastle strategic review have now been approved and it is hoped that the procurement process will commence in mid July 2001.

The provisional estimates for the new facilities being operational are late 2006 at the Royal Victoria infirmary and late 2005/early 2006 at the Freeman hospital (including the new northern centre for cancer treatment). However, more precise estimates will emerge as the procurement progresses.

Cystic Fibrosis

Mr. Lepper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will issue his response to the review carried out by the UK national screening committee into the case for introducing a national neo-natal cystic fibrosis screening programme. [1751]

Yvette Cooper: On 30 April 2001, I announced that a new national programme for neo-natal cystic fibrosis screening would be introduced. This will be subject to further advice from the United Kingdom national screening committee about feasibility, time scales and costs of a national programme, which is expected in the autumn.

Routine Screening

Dr. Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to extend routine screening for middle-aged male patients; and if he will make a statement; [1482]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 2 July 2001]: The United Kingdom national screening committee (NSC) advises Ministers, the devolved Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament on all aspects of screening policy. The NSC assesses proposed new programmes against a set of internationally recognised criteria and in forming its proposals draws on the latest research evidence. Assessing programmes in this way is intended to ensure that screening does more good than harm at a reasonable cost.

The NHS plan announced colorectal cancer screening will be introduced should the current pilot studies demonstrate its effectiveness. It also announced that a prostate cancer screening programme will be introduced if and when screening and treatment techniques have developed sufficiently. The NSC will continue to keep all research evidence for preventing disease through screening under careful review when considering the case for recommending new programmes.


Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when all GPs will be connected to NHSnet. [1967]

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Mr. Hutton: As stated in the Government's information management and technology strategy for the national health service, "Building the Information Core", all clinical and support staff in the NHS (including general practitioners) will be connected to NHSnet by the end of March 2002.

Independent Hospices

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what additional help he intends to make available for independent hospices. [1359]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 3 July 2001]: The NHS cancer plan set out our commitment to increase national health service investment in specialist palliative care by £50 million by 2004 to end inequalities in access to care and enable the NHS to make a more realistic contribution to the cost hospices incur in providing agreed levels of services.

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

Hospital Waiting Times

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting times for operations in each of the hospital trusts in England and Wales are; and what the equivalent figures were in May 1997. [2220]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 3 July 2001]: A table showing inpatient waiting times in national health service trusts in England has been placed in the Library. Waiting times in Wales are now a matter for the devolved Welsh Assembly.

Data for England show that the average wait has reduced from 3.04 months at June 1997 to 2.95 months at April 2001.

Older People's Champions

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance he has issued to older people's champions on the discharge of their responsibilities under the national service framework for older people; [2012]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 3 July 2001]: Age Concern England's "Champions Pledge" is welcomed and will help focus the thinking and development of local older people's champions.

The National Service Framework for older people provided for the appointment of older people's champions and representation across every health and social services organisation by the end of June 2001. Once details of local appointments are collected in July 2001, and before detailing their role and responsibilities further or providing guidance, we will be seeking their views and

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the views of national organisations that represent older people. Age Concern England has been included in discussions around this.

The national service framework for older people provides for a range of performance measures by which achievement of milestones and standards set will be judged. Careful consideration will be given to any identified need to monitor and evaluate the role of older people's champions once these discussions have taken place.


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent by the NHS on research into (a) the causes and (b) the treatment of MS in each of the last five years; what plans he has to increase this amount; and if he will make a statement. [1859]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 4 July 2001]: The main Government agency for research into the causes and treatments for disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC), which receives its funding via the Department of Trade and Industry. The Department of Health funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the national health service.

The Department and MRC spend on multiple sclerosis research, which includes spend on basic work on a whole range of auto-immune disease was as follows:

The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for research into any aspect of human health and these are judged in open competition with other demands in funding.

The Department will be considering further research requirements in this area in support of the national service framework for long-term conditions.

Care Home Costs

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the costs of the first three months of a care home placement will be met; and what estimate has been made of these costs. [1503]

Jacqui Smith: Where a local authority provides a person with residential accommodation, it will assess the person's ability to reimburse the cost of the placement. The difference between the amount the person can reimburse and the cost of the care home placement will be funded by the local authority, which is in turn funded as part of the personal social services standard spending assessment to provide these services.

From April 2001, a 12-week property disregard has been introduced, which removes the value of a person's property from the assessment for that period. The cost of the 12-week disregard is reflected in the PSS SSA.

Those residents who are able to meet their care home fees fully through their income and other assets will do so from their own resources.

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