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29 Oct 2002 : Column 747W—continued

Older People's Taskforce

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 16 October 2002, Official Report, column 872W, on the older people's task force,

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if he will set out the reasons for each of the former members of the task force being replaced with new appointees. [76574]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 22 October 2002]: Mr. Harry Cayton resigned on taking up his post as Director of Patient Experience and Public Involvement at the Department.

Dr. Peter Melton, Mr. David Panter, Mrs. Beth Taylor and Mr. David White stepped down because of other pressing work commitments.

Mr. Chai Patel stepped down because he was no longer the owner of Westminster Healthcare and no longer had a direct interest in older people's services that qualified him to serve on the older people's task force.

Public Health Laboratory Service

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make a statement on the proposed changes to the Public Health Laboratory Services. [75366]

Ms Blears: We propose that many of the functions of the Public Health Laboratory Service should be incorporated into the proposed Health Protection Agency. The remaining functions—the laboratories predominately undertaking diagnostic microbiology services—will transfer to the management of local national health service trust by 1 April 2003.

Radiotherapy Waiting Times

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what the latest waiting times are for post-operative radiotherapy treatment; and if he will make a statement. [75385]

Ms Blears: Waiting times for radiotherapy treatment are not collected centrally. In order to tackle radiotherapy waiting times, we are making unprecedented investment in new radiotherapy facilities, streamlining care processes through the cancer services collaborative and working to best utilise the current work force and to increase the number of staff in post and in training.

Smoking

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the smoking percentage rates among women during pregnancy in each year since 1990 in (a) England and (b) each NHS region. [75638]

Jacqui Smith: Information on smoking in pregnancy is obtained from the infant feeding survey, which is carried out every five years; the most recent survey was in 2000. The results are not analysed by national health service region. The available information is given in the tables.

Table 1. Proportion of women who smoked throughout pregnancy/England, 1990,1995, and 2000
Percentage

Smoking prevalence1990(26)1995(27)2002(27)
Smoked during pregnancy282319
Base number5,4134,956(28) 4,921

Notes:

1. Data for 1990 relate to Great Britain.

2. The results from the 1995 and 2000 surveys are not directly comparable, since some of the smoking questions on the questionnaire were revised in 2000 to improve the reliability of the results.

3. The base for 2000 excludes 200 mothers who did not supply sufficient information for their smoking status to be classified.

Sources:

OPCS Infant feeding survey 1990, ONS Infant feeding survey 1995, and BMRB Infant feeding survey 2000. The latter is available from the internet at http://www.doh.qov.uk/pdfs/infantreport2000.pdf


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Table 2. Proportion of women who smoked throughout pregnancy, by region, England and Wales, 2000

RegionPercentageBase number
London and South East151,809
South West and Wales21784
Midlands and East Anglia21984
North231,625
England and Wales19(26),(27) 5,225

Notes:

1. 216 mothers who did not supply sufficient information for their smoking status to be classified have been excluded.

2. 23 mothers who did not supply information for their region to be classified have been excluded from the regional breakdown.

Source:

(Derived from) BMRB Infant feeding survey 2000. The published report is available from the internet at http://www.doh.qov.uk/pdfs/infantreport2000.pdf


Treatment for the Blind and Partially Sighted

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to improve treatment for the blind and partially sighted. [75376]

Jacqui Smith: We have set a new target for the national health service to improve diabetic retinopathy screening. We have invested #20 million to modernise cataract services. At the same time, the Royal National Institute for the Blind is working with us to develop a resource pack for implementation of the Older People's National Service Framework. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence are also carrying out an appraisal of photodynamic therapy.

Waiting Times (A&E)

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on waiting times in accident and emergency departments. [75384]

Mr. Lammy: Long waits in accident and emergency are not acceptable and improving patients' experience of emergency care is a Government priority.

The NHS Plan set the target to reduce the maximum wait in accident and emergency (A&E) from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge to four hours or less by 2004. By the time of the first milestone in March 2002, 77 per cent, of all patients attending A&E in England spent four hours or less in A&E. This slightly exceeded the milestone which was set at 75 per cent.

Wythenshawe Hospital

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will list the number of contacts his Department has had with (a) Wythenshawe Hospital and (b) Greater

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Manchester health authority concerning the case of Mr. Stanley Ford and list, in each case, the date and nature of contact. [76641]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 24 October 2002]: Officials have been in contact with South Manchester University Hospitals National Health Service Trust and Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority on a number of occasions since my hon. Friend first raised her constituent's case in five parliamentary questions last July. These approaches have been by letter, telephone and e-mail and not all were individually recorded.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what investigations have taken place into hygiene standards at Wythenshawe Hospital following the outbreaks of MRSA in May and June. [76643]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 24 October 2002]: Several meetings took place, attended by all relevant staff, including a consultant microbiologist and an infection control nurse. The trust's cleaning contractor was given instructions about additional cleaning requirements, with which it has complied. These enhanced cleaning measures are continuing to be monitored.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the reasons why Wythenshawe Hospital was short of theatre staff on 22 March; how many staff were missing; what post each of them held; and, in each case, what the reason for absence was. [76645]

Jacqui Smith: [holding answer 24 October 2002]: On 22 March, five of the 20 nursing staff were on sick leave, although four colleagues worked overtime to compensate for their absence. It was as a result of an emergency admission going to theatre at 14:35 hours that my hon. Friend's constituent had to have his operation cancelled.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will investigate the procedures adopted by (a) Wythenshawe Hospital and (b) the Greater Manchester health authority when dealing with complaints about the treatment of Mr S. Ford of Warrington; and if he will make a statement. [76647]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 24 October 2002]: At the request of the national health service chief executive, the director of health & social care—North has reviewed Mr. Ford's case and the handling of subsequent complaints by South Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust and Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority. The director wrote to my hon. Friend on 18 September with his findings.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE

Amina Lawal

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on Amina Lawal. [76991]

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Mr. MacShane [holding answer 28 October 2002]: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) on 23 October 2002, Official Report, column 363W.

Arms Sales (Israel)

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement regarding the sale of arms to Israel. [77510]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK arms trade with Israel is tiny. All relevant export licence applications are rigorously assessed on a case by case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria, taking account of the circumstances prevailing at the time and other relevant announced Government policies. Our criteria clearly set out our commitment to take account of the risk that exports might be used for internal repression or external aggression. The outbreak of the intifada, continued Israeli incursions in the occupied territories and the Israeli breach of its assurance that UK originated equipment would not be used in the occupied territories have all been factored in to the Government's current export licensing policy.


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