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Bed Blocking (Oxfordshire)

19. Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many blocked beds there are in Oxfordshire; and if he will make a statement. [59140]

Ms Blears: The Government recognise that delayed discharges are a problem across the south-east. Health and local authorities are working together to take action to improve the situation. In October 2001 the Government announced an extra £300 million in the "Cash for Change" initiative to tackle bed blocking in 2001–02 and 2002–03. Last year Oxfordshire received £706,000, this year £1.489 million.

All information, collected centrally, on delayed discharge has been placed in the Library. Information for quarter 4 of 2001–02 shows that Oxfordshire had 52 delayed discharges. This is the most recent period for which figures are currently available.

Health Policy (Schoolchildren)

20. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he last had discussions with the Secretary of State for Education and Skills about the health of schoolchildren. [59141]

Ms Blears: My hon. Friend the then Under-Secretary of State for Public Health met the Secretary of State for Education and Skills in February this year to talk about inequalities and during this meeting the health of school age children was discussed. The two Departments work very closely to ensure that the health needs of school age children are met and work on a number of initiatives together, including the National Service Framework for Children, the healthy schools programme, national school fruit scheme, Special Educational Needs Code of Practice and Sure Start.

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Air-related Thromboembolic Disease

22. Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the World Health Organisation's research into air-related thromboembolic disease. [59143]

Ms Blears: The Department of Health, together with the Department for Transport, fully supports the aims of the World Health Organisation's research into air travel and venous thromboembolism, and has agreed to provide up to £1.2 million in funding for this work. The two year project will start in June 2002.

Day Surgery

23. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to expand the number of day surgery units in hospitals. [59144]

Mr. Hutton: The Government are investing in the biggest building programme in the history of the national health service, including the new day surgery unit at Bassetlaw district general hospital.

We are also building a new model of diagnostic and treatment centres, which will make a significant contribution to increasing capacity for day surgery. In addition, we are working towards maximising the capacity in existing day surgery units, and I have asked Professor Ara Darzi to develop a strategy to help units to improve their throughput.

Residential Home Beds

24. Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds for elderly people in residential homes have been lost between May 1997 and the latest available date. [59145]

Jacqui Smith: Between 31 March 1997 and 31 March 2001, the number of residential care beds in homes for older people decreased by 1,550 from 261,620 to 260,070, a drop of under 1 per cent.

Chiropody Services

25. Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the provision of chiropody services in the national health service. [59146]

36. Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the provision of chiropody services on the NHS. [59157]

Jacqui Smith: No specific assessment has been made. There are national variations in chiropody services. This may be because local national health service organisations clinically prioritise access to their services to ensure they meet the needs of their most at risk patients. The clinical criteria used to prioritise will be determined locally by primary care trusts.

Retained Human Organs

27. Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which hospitals have retained human organs without permission from the relatives of the deceased since 1997; and how many are continuing this practice. [59148]

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Mr. Lammy: These data are not collected centrally. General information about organ retention in NHS trusts is available in the Chief Medical Officer's census report 1 .

The Chief Medical Officer issued interim guidance in March 2000 requiring NHS trusts to obtain consent from spouses or other relatives to any organ retention from post-mortem examination. This is to ensure that the requirements of the Human Tissue Act 1961 are met effectively.

We have recently consulted on a comprehensive, new code of practice on families and post mortems and on a range of post mortem consent forms. We shall shortly be seeking views on whether changes to the current law are necessary.

Age Discrimination

28. Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to tackle age discrimination in the health service. [59149]

Jacqui Smith: The National Service Framework for Older People, published in March 2001, sets the elimination of age discrimination in accessing national health service or social care as a priority. To help achieve this, it provides a programme of actions and milestones to be achieved over the next 10 years.

Racial Equality

29. Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in the promotion of racial equality in the NHS. [59150]

Mr. Hutton: Activity to promote race equality in the national health service is occurring on a number of fronts, including implementation of the NHS Plan, National Service Frameworks and within the NHS work force. On 31 May 2002 the Department published its "Race Equality Scheme" setting out a programme of action on promoting race equality.

Operation Waiting Times (South-West)

30. Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients in the south-west had been waiting over 15 months for an NHS hospital operation in April. [59151]

Ms Blears: Data for March 2002 reported that there were two patients in the former south-west region waiting over 15 months for treatment. However, a waiting list review at the Royal United Hospital Bath National Health Service Trust has concluded that waiting list information reported by the trust in the year 2001–02 was inaccurate. Further examination of these waiting lists, published on 7 June, shows that 223 patients in March and 235 patients in April had been waiting for more than 15 months for in-patient treatment.

By the end of June, all patients will be offered a date for operation.

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Cancer Research

31. Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria the Government use when allocating resourcing to cancer research. [59152]

Ms Blears: Total Government expenditure on research in any given year is not normally allocated in advance to specific diseases. Decisions depend on many variables including the quality of proposals received. By 2003–04, the Government will be spending an additional £20 million a year on the new national health service infrastructure for cancer research. This will mean that more cancer patients will have access to new and experimental treatments. In April 2002, the Government set up the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in partnership with charities and industry. The NCRI is providing strategic oversight of cancer research across the whole of the United Kingdom.

Teaching Primary Care Trusts

32. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the work of teaching primary care trusts. [59153]

Mr. Hutton: An essential aim of teaching primary care trusts (PCTs) is to develop posts that are both clinical and rooted in teaching, research and/or development. The objective is to provide additional patient care through the recruitment of extra clinicians in areas of need, complemented with the development of learning, sharing of knowledge and collaboration in research.

Teaching PCTs will provide a resource for all PCTs to develop as learning organisations, in promoting a research and evidence-based approach and in supporting work force planning and development.

11 teaching PCTs have been established, and a further 17 to 20 will be established by April 2003.

Dorset and Somerset Health Authorities

33. Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people are employed (a) by the Dorset and Somerset health authority and (b) in administrative posts in the primary care trusts in both counties. [59154]

Ms Blears: The information is not collected centrally.

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