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Emergency Admissions (Lancashire)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for each NHS trust in Lancashire, what was the (a) number and (b) percentage change in emergency admissions between April and October in (i) 2001 and (ii) 2000. [15471]

Ms Blears: The latest available data for acute trusts are set out in the table:

Finished first episodesApril–August 2000April–August 2001 provisionalPer cent. change
Blackpool Victoria10,91211,330+3.8
Morecambe Bay11,05611,811+6.8

Source: Hospital Episode Statistics.


Richard Younger-Rose: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions he has had with his European Union colleagues regarding strengthening restrictions on country of origin labelling. [12642]

Yvette Cooper: None.

The Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for representing the UK at working level on these matters, is pressing for changes to EU labelling rules to require country of origin labelling on a wider range of foods, particularly meat products. It is also pressing for changes that would prevent misleading labelling by restricting the use of terms like Xproduce of . . ." to those foods where the main ingredient come from, and production processes occur in, the named place or country.

Health Authority Debt

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which health authorities were in debt in (a) 1997 and (b) 2001; and what was the level of debt in each case. [16848]

Mr. Hutton: This information has been placed in the Library. Changes in the accounting and financial arrangements for health authorities mean that the figures for 1996–97 and 2000–01 are not directly comparable.

Sussex Ambulance Service

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the response time is for the Sussex Ambulance Service in the last period for which figures are available; and what (a) the national average and (b) the Government's target response time is. [17347]

Ms Blears: The Government's target response times require that ambulance services prioritise emergency calls. Immediate life threatening calls are classified as Category A, and other emergency calls are classified as

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Category B/C. Ambulance services are required to respond to 75 per cent of Category A calls within eight minutes and 50 per cent of Category B/C calls within eight minutes. For rural services, which includes Sussex Ambulance NHS Trust, there should be a response to 95 per cent of emergency calls within 19 minutes, and for urban services within 14 minutes. For urgent patient journeys the ambulance should arrive not more than 15 minutes after the agreed time in 95 per cent. of cases.

Information about the response times to emergency calls and other requests for transport for Sussex Ambulance NHS Trust and all other ambulance trusts are contained in the Department of Health Statistical Bulletin XAmbulance Services, England 2000-01". A copy is in the Library and available on the Department's website at

Acute Beds

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his most recent assessment is of acute hospital bed availability in (a) Worcestershire, (b) Gloucestershire, (c) Herefordshire, (d) Warwickshire and (e) Birmingham; and if he will make a statement.[23086]

Yvette Cooper: The number of available acute beds at midnight on 29 November 2001 in National Health Service Trusts in the areas listed is given in the table:

Available acute beds at midnight on 29 November 2001

NHS TrustTotal acute beds
(a) Worcestershire
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust764
Worcestershire Community & Mental Health NHS Trust101
East Gloucestershire NHS Trust632
Gloucestershire Royal NHS Trust695
Severn NHS Trust7
(c) Herefordshire
Hereford Hospitals NHS Trust303
(d) Warwickshire
George Elliot Hospital NHS Trust362
North Warwickshire NHS Trust28
South Warwickshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust30
South Warwickshire General Hospitals NHS Trust391
(e) Birmingham
Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Trust194
Birmingham Heartlands & Solihull NHS Trust1,168
Birmingham Specialist Community Health NHS Trust6
Birmingham Women's Healthcare NHS Trust92
City Hospital NHS Trust653
Good Hope Hospital NHS Trust471
Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust38
University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust1,042

Source: DoH winter bed census.

The number of acute beds in the table includes adult and children's acute beds, critical care beds, specialist beds, special care baby cots, beds in assessment and admission units and beds in observation wards (if available to admit patients to). Some categories of acute beds—such as obstetrics and day care beds—are not included in the Department of Health winter bed census figures quoted but have formerly been included in calculations of acute capacity.

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Elective Surgery, Buckingham

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to set up a dedicated fast-track elective surgery centre in the constituency of Buckingham. [23720]

Ms Blears: We announced plans for 26 diagnostic and treatment centres (DTCs) in February 2001. Among these was a proposal for a centre in Milton Keynes.

We are now looking at ways to extend the DTC programme, including in the south-east and, if possible, to bring it forward. We will consider suitable proposals that stand to benefit even more patients.

Public Appointments

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department has issued in respect of non-executive appointments to (a) primary care trusts and (b) other NHS bodies; and what role primary care trust chairmen have in selecting non-executive members of (i) primary care trusts and (ii) other NHS bodies. [27129]

Ms Blears: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State determines the criteria according to which all non-executive appointments to National Health Service boards are made. He also determines equal opportunities goals and objectives to ensure that boards are representative of the communities they serve. These provisions apart, the appointment of chairs and non-executives to the boards of NHS trusts, primary care trusts and health authorities is now the responsibility of the NHS Appointments Commission. Guidance on the appointments process was issued by the Commission in October 2001. A copy is in the Library. The guidance provides that the chair of the NHS body involved should serve on (but not chair) the sift and interview panels for non-executive board members. However, the final decision on all appointments is taken by the Appointments Commission.

Children Act

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on which date the extension of section 87 of the Children Act 1989 to include all boarding schools came into force. [27357]

Jacqui Smith: The extension of section 87 (87A) of the Children Act 1989 was in the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, section 38 (87B) was substituted for (87A) in the Education Act 1996.

The Deregulation and Contracting Out Act received Royal Asset on 3 November 1994. Guidance to local authorities on the affect of the amendment in the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act was issued in January 1995 LAC (95)1.

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Overseas Trips

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list each of the overseas trips made by himself and other members of his ministerial team in each of the last four years, specifying the purpose and cost of each trip. [30182]

Ms Blears: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on 4 February 2002, Official Report, at column 707W.

Bed Blocking

Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether bed blocking at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital by clients of Birmingham City Council's Social Services Department is delaying operations for Solihull patients. [30208]

Yvette Cooper: Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull NHS Trust has been affected by the well-publicised problems with delayed discharges across the whole of Birmingham for most of last year. I am advised that following the allocation of additional XCash for Change" funding in November, there has been an improvement. However, there remain approximately 100 patients who are experiencing delayed transfers of care in the trust. Of these, nine are awaiting social services funding compared with 73 in October 2001, while 31 are awaiting completion of assessments by the Social Services Departments. The Director of Social Services is currently pursuing ways to improve this position.

I am informed that both the Trust and Solihull Health Authority are ahead of their waiting list profiles and have robust plans to ensure that their end of year targets are achieved. In addition, elective and day case admissions have been at a consistent level, and until early in the New Year the number of cancellations of surgery being experienced by the Trust were below their average levels. There was a temporary increase in the number of cancelled operations for two weeks in January due to a viral outbreak affecting both patients and staff, but this has now returned to normal levels.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason old age psychiatry beds are not included in the figures on bed blocking collected by the NHS. [36918]

Jacqui Smith: Delayed discharges are collected as an indicator of how well the whole system is working. A number of smaller specialities, including old age psychiatry, are not included, because they have a smaller impact on the overall capacity of the NHS, since the beds involved would not be suitable for most emergency admissions or post-operative care. However, patients in old-age psychiatry beds should be able to receive the right care at the right time, like all other patients. That is why standard 7 of the National Service Framework for Older People sets out to achieve integrated mental health services provided by the NHS and councils to ensure effective diagnosis, treatment and support.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many old age psychiatry beds, and what percentage of the total, were blocked by patients waiting to enter a care home (a) in the UK and (b) in North Yorkshire, in (i) 1997, (ii) 2000 and (iii) 2002. [36915]

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Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not collected centrally.

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