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Psychiatric Wards

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 11 March 2002, Official Report, column 811W, on ward refurbishment, which hospitals and institutions will have their psychiatric wards refurbished as a consequence of the dedicated budget established in 2001–02. [47443]

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Ms Blears [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The £15 million total consists of two separate funding sources. £10 million additional funding for mental health was allocated to regions on a weighted capitation basis for the refurbishment/redecoration of psychiatric wards; updating information technology; the provision of alternatives to acute admissions; and voluntary sector support. Details of how this funding was allocated locally are not held centrally.

The remaining £5 million was the first tranche of a special budget of £30 million over two years and those NHS trusts which benefited from this are listed.

Firework-related Injuries

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) steps are being taken and (b) investment is being made, to reduce firework-related injuries. [47841]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

The comprehensive measures introduced by the Firework (Safety) Regulations 1997 and actively enforced by Trading Standards Departments are supplemented by robust and targeted safety campaigns to warn consumers of the dangers of misusing.


Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of prescriptions were issued electronically in the last year. [46999]

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Ms Blears: The proportion of prescriptions produced by computer and issued electronically by general practitioners in the last year was between 60 and 80 per cent. dependent on which health authority area the GP was situated.

Mixed-sex Wards

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether newly constructed hospitals comprise (a) wards assigned solely to either male or female patients and (b) subdivided bays. [47839]

Mr. Hutton: Guidance on the requirements for new accommodation is given in Health Building Notes and Design Guides HBN 4 "In-patient accommodation—options for choice". The guidance provides national health service trusts with design solutions to meet the requirements of privacy, dignity and safety. Additional guidance on achieving single sex accommodation "Enhancing Privacy and Dignity" has been issued.


Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of patients awaiting their first out-patient appointment have been waiting over six months. [47830]

Mr. Hutton: Information regarding the total stock of out-patient waiters is not collected. However, published out-patient activity statistics show that 5 per cent. of patients referred by general practitioners who were seen during the period October to December 2001 had been waiting longer than 26 weeks.

Primary Care Trusts

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he expects primary care trusts to devolve control of budgets to practice level. [47865]

Mr. Hutton: Primary care trusts (PCTs) may develop indicative budgets at practice or locality level to make explicit resource use within a PCT, encourage fairer more transparent allocation of resources and enable primary care to lever strategic change within local health communities.

Incentive schemes created in conjunction with the development of indicative budgets encourage general practitioners to understand and reflect on their current practice and innovate. PCTs in consultation with practices and through the development of a local health improvement and modernisation programme should develop and agree a commissioning plan for the PCT as a whole, reflecting the health needs of local communities. This two-way dialogue allows PCTs to secure services for their populations that general practitioners and other primary and community health professionals identify as being necessary. Work is in hand to scope how PCTs and practices could be supported to develop indicative budgets at practice level. This could be through developing a national framework or local models of good practice.

Learning Disabilities

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the provision of village communities for people with learning disabilities. [47503]

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Jacqui Smith: Our policy on services for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers is set out in the White Paper "Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century" published in March 2001. This was supplemented by guidance to local authorities and the national health service in August 2001.

Our objective for housing is to enable people with learning disabilities and their families to have greater choice and control over where and how they live. People with learning disabilities can live successfully in different types of housing including small-scale ordinary housing, supported living and village and residential communities as well as residential care. We expect local authorities to ensure that all housing options are considered when they are exploring the future housing, care and support needs of people with learning disabilities and their families.

Councils should respect the preferences of individuals and their families, wherever the preferred options will meet individuals' assessed needs and are affordable. Where there is limited demand for a particular option, councils and housing authorities may need to consider joining with neighbouring authorities to encourage the development of a greater range of provision.

Learning disability partnership boards have been set up in each local authority area to oversee and advise on implementation of the Valuing People programme. Boards have been asked to produce local housing strategies for people with learning disabilities by winter 2002–03. The Department and the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions will issue shortly guidance about this for learning disability partnership boards.

NHS Expenditure

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the expenditure on the NHS was as a proportion of the GDP of England in the last 12 months; and to what extent he collates information about NHS expenditure in Scotland as a percentage of Scottish GDP in order to assess his progress towards meeting his targets. [46917]

Mr. Hutton: The gross domestic product (GDP) for England is not yet available for 2001–02. The latest available GDP for England is for 1999 and is published by the Office of National Statistics in 'Regional Trends' which is available in the Library. Figures for later years are available on a United Kingdom basis only.

The Government's target for health care investment is for the whole of the United Kingdom. NHS expenditure in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is therefore collected by the Department in order to calculate total national health service expenditure in the United Kingdom.

Planned NHS expenditure in the United Kingdom for 2001–02 was 6.3 per cent. of GDP. This means that total healthcare expenditure, including private healthcare, as a percentage of GDP last year was 7.3 per cent. rising to 7.6 per cent. by 2003–04 based on latest expenditure plans.

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Woodside Adolescent Unit

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the proposed closure of the Woodside Adolescent Unit at West Park Epsom. [47498]

Ms Blears: The changing need for child and adolescent mental health services is expected to render the in-patient service at Woodside Unit unviable, in its current form, from April 2003.

Surrey Oaklands NHS Trust is continuing to work with the health authority and local primary care trusts to explore options for the reprovision of services, retaining locally accessible services where possible. This will be linked to continuing work to develop local care models with alternatives to hospital admission.

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