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Primary Care Facilities

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the connection between the level of deprivation in an area and the quality of its primary care facilities. [53368]

Mr. Hutton: Reducing health inequalities is a key Government priority. It is widely recognised that primary care facilities in relatively deprived localities are generally poorer than elsewhere. We are addressing this by targeting resources and management capacity through the National Health Service resource allocation formula, additional specific funding for general practitioners' premises and the NHS local investment finance trust initiative.

Acute Psychiatric Beds

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many acute psychiatric beds were available for (a) children, (b) the elderly and (c) other ages in secure units within the Newcastle and North Tyneside Health Authority Area in (i) 1996–97 and (ii) the most recent available period; what the occupancy rate was; and what delayed discharge issues occurred. [54691]

Jacqui Smith: Data are not collected in the format requested. Information on beds in wards designated as mental illness short stay/secure is given in the table.

Average daily number of available and occupied beds in Acute Mental Illness-wards, for NHS Trusts in Newcastle & North Tyneside Health Authority area, 2000–01 and 1996–97

Available bedsOccupied beds% occupancy
Newcastle City Health NHS Trust
Mental Illness—Children—short stay191160.9
Mental Illness—Elderly—short stay625080.1
Mental Illness—Secure unit—other ages373287.8
Mental Illness—other ages—short stay16916295.6
Total Acute Mental Illness beds for NHS Trusts in Newcastle & North Tyneside Health Authority area, 2000–0128725589.0
Available bedsOccupied beds%
Newcastle City Health NHS Trust
Mental Illness—Children—short stay231671.0
Mental Illness—Elderly—short stay684769.3
Mental Illness—Secure unit—other ages312992.8
Mental Illness—other ages—short stay19217289.4
North Tyneside Health Care NHS Trust
Mental Illness—Elderly—short stay332473.3
Total Acute Mental Illness beds for NHS Trusts in Newcastle & North Tyneside
Health Authority area, 1996–9734728883.0


KH03—Bed availability and occupancy.


1. The figures shown in the table are not a true reflection of beds in the Newcastle and North Tyneside Health Authority area as in its area it may contain hospitals that come under a different NHS Trust whose main site may fall into a different health authority.

2. The mental health services provided by Newcastle City Health and Northumberland Mental Health Trust merged on the 1 April 2001, to form Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Mental Health NHS Trust.

3. North Tyneside Health Care NHS Trust does not appear for 2000–01 as it merged in 1998 with Northumberland Community Health and Cheviot and Wansbeck to form Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust. The main site for the newly formed NHS Trust falls into another Health Authority.

24 May 2002 : Column 681W

NHS Pension Scheme

Ms Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take into account when calculating widowers' pensions for women doctors in the NHS Pension Scheme their service since 25 March 1972. [55460]

Mr. Hutton: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the former Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Prior) on 13 January 1999, Official Report, column 2.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assistance has been given to research into myalgic encephalomyelitis since 1997; [56261] (2) what (a) medical, (b) welfare and (c) benefit provisions are made for those suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis; [56263] (3) what plans he has for a comprehensive epidemiological study into myalgic encephalomyelitis. [56262]

Jacqui Smith: Since 1997 the Department of Health and Medical Research Council (MRC) invested approximately £370,000 on research projects relevant to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME).

In addition to specific projects, the Department provides support for research commissioned by charities and the research councils that takes place in the National Health Service. Management of much of the research supported by NHS research & development funding is devolved and expenditure at project level is not held centrally by the Department. The total investment is considerably greater than the spend on directly commissioned projects.

There are currently no plans to commission a national epidemiology study. The Department has asked the MRC to develop a broad strategy for advancing biomedical and health services research on CFS/ME.

It is the role of primary care trusts, to decide what services to provide for their populations including those with CFS/ME. They are best placed to understand local health needs and commission services to meet them.

24 May 2002 : Column 682W

Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 places local authorities under a duty to arrange services for individual disabled people where they are satisfied that they are necessary to meet the person's needs. The services concerned include practical assistance in the home; recreational facilities; assistance in travelling to services; assistance in arranging adaptations to the home, or the provision of additional facilities designed to secure greater safety, comfort or convenience; facilitating the taking of holidays; the provision of meals and the provision of a telephone and any special equipment necessary to enable the disabled person to use it.

Entitlement to benefit is not dependent on a claimant having any particular diagnosis but the resulting care and mobility needs in the case of Disability Living Allowance or its effects on the person's ability to perform prescribed work-related function in the Personal Capability Assessment for incapacity benefits. Where a clinical diagnosis of CFS/ME has been made full account will be taken of its disabling effects.

General Practitioners

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what he estimates will be the average cost to general practitioners of opting out of 24-hour responsibility. [56919]

Mr. Hutton: This will be addressed as part of the process for pricing the new general practitioner contract.

Waiting Times

Miss Widdecombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the waiting list times are for (a) CT scans, (b) MRI scans, (c) angiograms and (d) radiotherapy in each NHS trust in England and Wales at the latest date for which figures are available. [56914]

Mr. Hutton: We do not collect data on waiting times for computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, angiograms or radiotherapy. However we are taking action to improve access to services by investing in a programme of upgrading and expansion of diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, as well as in staff training and streamlining of care processes.

24 May 2002 : Column 683W

The NHS Cancer Plan targets for waits from urgent general practitioner referral to first treatment cover the diagnostic phase of treatment and for some patients this will involve CT and/or MRI scans. The targets are to meet this standard for breast cancer by the end of 2002 and for all cancers by 2005. We are currently putting in place data collection mechanisms to show performance against this target.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have waited over (a) 12 months and (b) 15 months for an operation in Hull and the East Riding. [57592]

Jacqui Smith: As at March 2002, 303 people in East Riding and Hull were waiting over 12 months for an operation, no one has been waiting over 15 months.

Intermediate Care Beds

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 16 April 2002, Official Report, column 926W, on community hospitals, how much will be spent on establishing the 5,000 intermediate care beds by 2004; and what proportion of funding and beds will be allocated to rural areas. [57469]

Jacqui Smith: The NHS Plan announced an extra £900 million annually by 2003–04 for new intermediate care and related services to promote independence and improve quality of care for older people, together with targets for additional intermediate care beds and non-residential places and the number of people to benefit.

Full details are in the intermediate care circular HSC 2001–01:LAC (2001)1 published in January last year. Copies are available in the Library.

The proportion of funding and additional intermediate care services that will be allocated to rural areas is not known.

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