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Child Illnesses

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many school-age children suffered from (a) chronic illness, (b) asthma and (c) cancer in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement. [22490]

Yvette Cooper: Data on the number of chronically ill children are not collected, but it is estimated that approximately one in three of the population suffers from one or more of a wide range of chronic conditions including arthritis, diabetes, epilepsy and asthma.

There are no comprehensive data on the number of people with asthma but it is estimated to affect 4 to 6 per cent. of children sufficiently severely to require medical supervision. The table shows hospital admissions for patients aged five to 14 years. The table does not show actual incidence of asthma—some patients may be admitted more than once and many sufferers may never need hospital admission.

Admissions for patients aged five to 14 years in national health service hospitals, England—completed episodes with primary diagnosis asthma J45-J46 (ICD10)



1. Ordinary admissions and day cases combined.

2. Figures for 1996–97 to 1997–98 have been grossed for coverage and for unknown or invalid clinical data; figures for 1998–99 onwards have not yet been adjusted for shortfalls in data.


Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health

The table shows numbers of cancer cases registered by age and year of diagnosis.

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Cancer diagnosed in children aged five to 14 years in England,



National Registry of Childhood Tumours, University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics

Baby Food

Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to extend the protection of the EU directive on pesticide residue levels in baby food. [20570]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 13 December 2001]: Legislation implementing the European Union directive and setting tough low maximum limits for pesticides in infant formula and processed baby foods comes into force in July 2002. Where food is made for babies in the home, pesticide residues in the ingredients are subject to rigorous controls on pesticide use which take into account the sensitivity of all age groups.

NHS Spending

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the level of NHS spending as a share of gross domestic product for each year from 1990–91 to 2003–04; what comparable figures he has for the average of European Union countries; and if he will make a statement. [22272]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 13 December 2001]: The United Kingdom gross cash national health service expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is set out in the table. The figures for 2001–02 onwards are for planned expenditure.

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NHS Expenditure as a percentage of GDP


The only source of comparable data is published by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. These data exist only for calendar years, and the latest complete set of data is for 1998. The average public expenditure as a proportion of gross domestic product for all European Union countries is as follows:

Public expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP

EU average public expenditure

(23) There are no data for Belgium in these years


OECD Health Data 2001

Assuming private spending remains at its current level of around 1 per cent. of GDP, total United Kingdom health care expenditure will reach around 7.6 per cent. by 2003–04. This will be a significant step towards reaching the European Union average, which (again, including private spending—around 2 per cent. on average in the EU) has remained around 7.9 to 8 per cent. in recent years.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the percentage of the GNP of the UK that has been spent on the NHS in each of the last five years. [28079]

Mr. Hutton: The amount of health care expenditure by the national health service is calculated as a percentage of gross domestic product. The gross NHS expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product is given for financial years in the table.

United Kingdom NHS spend

Percentage of gross domestic product

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Free Nursing Care (Battersea)

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of pensioners and disabled people requiring long-term care in Battersea who will receive free nursing care next April. [22945]

Jacqui Smith: Just over 80 people in Battersea are receiving free nursing care from 1 October 2001 and a similar number will receive this from April 2002. This is the number of people assessed as eligible for free nursing care currently resident in nursing homes in Battersea. Many other local residents already receive assistance with the costs of their care by a registered nurse through the local authority or receive it free from the national health service in residential accommodation or at home.

Autism (Wandsworth)

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the help available for autistic children and adults and their families in Wandsworth. [22944]

Jacqui Smith The learning disability White Paper "Valuing People—A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21 Century" issued in March 2001 sets out the Government's proposals for maximising opportunities for all disabled children and supporting young people's transition into adult life. It focuses in particular on the needs of learning disabled children and their families, but does so within a framework which applies equally to all disabled children, including those on the autistic spectrum.

Children with autism will benefit from a range of initiatives we are taking to improve services for disabled children. As part of the Quality Protects programme we set new national objectives for children's services which for the first time set out clear outcomes for children, and in some instances give precise targets which local authorities are expected to achieve. These were updated in "Valuing People".

Disabled children have been made a priority area in Quality Protects. The last spending review made substantial additional funding available for the Children's Services grant which now totals £180 million in 2001–02, £220 million in 2002–03 and £290 million in 2003–04. Of this, £60 million has been earmarked for services for disabled children and their families—£15 million in 2001–02 and 2002–03 and £30 million in 2003–04.

We have also announced that services for disabled children will be a key area to be addressed by the national service framework for children. We want to make autism an exemplar under the children's national service framework, so that when the framework is concluded people will be able to see how services should be provided.

The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2001 which came into effect from 1 January 2002 provides strengthened and more focused advice on identifying, assessing and providing for children's special educational needs. The Department for Education and Skills will also be publishing good practice guidance on aspects of provision for children with autism, mainly aimed at schools and local education authorities.

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The White Paper, "Valuing People", published in March 2001, covers all adults with autism who also have a learning disability. White Paper implementation guidance issued in August last year states that

By bringing together health, social care and educational agencies, "Valuing People" gives us the scope to improve opportunities and services for people across the autistic spectrum.

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It is for local statutory bodies, Wandsworth in this instance, to determine the services they provide in the light of their knowledge of local needs and priorities.

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