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7 Nov 2002 : Column 531W—continued


Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of cancer patients are comorbid; and (a) how many and (b) what proportion of cancer patients there were in each year since 1998. [78950]

Ms Blears: The Department does not centrally hold information on co-morbidity of cancer patients. In some instances this information will be held locally for research and/or public health purposes though it is not generally published.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what instruments have been developed to classify different comorbid diseases; and whether a comorbidity index is a cancer registry requirement. [78951]

Ms Blears: There are several methods of monitoring co-morbidity currently available: these include the Kaplan-Feinstein Index, the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS) and the Adult Comorbidity Evaluation (ACE 27). However, not all methodologies are appropriate to all tumour types.

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Due to the complexities of applying a co-morbidity standard to all cancers there are no current plans to incorporate a co-morbidity index into registry datasets.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the data reporting standards for cancer, broken down by stage. [78949]

Ms Blears: Collected information on cancer services is restricted to aggregate returns to measure performance against the waiting times targets in the NHS Cancer Plan and data collected to monitor National Health Service screening services. The Department does not collect data on cancer patients broken down by stage of disease.

Some information on stage is collected by cancer registries but not for all cancer types, although coverage for this data is incomplete and as such it is not therefore published.

Fragile X Syndrome

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consultation has been undertaken with people with Fragile X syndrome and their families in connection with the Valuing People White Paper. [79373]

Jacqui Smith: The White Paper Valuing People sets out our proposals for improving services for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers. The strategy takes a cross-Government, cradle to grave, approach to a wide range of services—social care, health, education, employment, benefits, housing, transport, leisure—for people with every kind of learning disability, including Fragile X syndrome. We have made good progress in putting in place the framework for delivery promised in the White Paper.

We involved a large number of individuals and organisations, including people with learning disabilities and their carers, when developing the White Paper: we have continued that approach by including all these parties in the learning disability task force and learning disability partnership boards, which are overseeing its implementation. We have not consulted specifically on each type of learning disability or condition, but the approach we have taken makes clear that Valuing People includes everyone with a learning disability.

Nursing Care Payments

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what conditions are applied to payments of (a) attendance allowance and (b) payments towards nursing care; [79456]

Jacqui Smith: The guidance and directions on free nursing care describe the eligibility, review and appeal arrangements, copies of which are in the Library. These are also are available at The National Health Service and social services have complaint procedures that people can follow if they are dissatisfied with aspects of their care.

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The eligibility of anyone in receipt of attendance allowance is not affected by NHS funding, though councils will need to take account of the receipt of this and other benefits if they carry out a financial assessment.

A and E Departments

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to ensure that funding, made available to ease the burdens in accident and emergency departments, is reaching the front-line to (a) allow innovative schemes to continue and (b) give all accident and emergency departments the opportunity to introduce new ways of working. [79267]

Jacqui Smith: The Reforming Emergency Care strategy was launched in October 2001, supported by #118 million investment, to improve the local organisation of emergency services to ensure that patients get a consistent and appropriate response based on national clinical standards. The strategy will be delivered through the formation of emergency care networks (ECNs), which will co-ordinate all aspects of local emergency care through the local leadership of emergency care leads (ECLs) appointed in all acute trusts and primary care trusts.

The Government places a very high priority on improving delivery of emergency care. The NHS Plan set challenging targets for strategic health authorities and trusts to cut waiting times in accident and emergency (A&E). The new devolved funding arrangements mean that local managers are able to target funding, in line with national guidelines, on local areas of need. Local managers and clinicians are being supported to develop and maintain innovative ways of delivering care through the Modernisation Agency emergency services collaborative, launched on 8 October 2002. The first wave of the collaborative is now underway and by September 2004, every trust with an A&E in England will have completed the programme.

Sight Loss

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what additional investment is planned for (a) prevention, (b) detection and (c) rehabilitation of sight loss. [79761]

Jacqui Smith: The National Health Service is receiving unprecedented growth for investment across health services. We have set a new target for the NHS to improve diabetic retinopathy screening. We have also invested #20 million to modernise cataract services. Furthermore, free NHS sight tests for everyone aged 60 and over were reintroduced from April 1999, at an annual cost of #50 million.

The Department is also contributing a grant of more than #120,000 over three years to a group of voluntary organisations to set up local low vision services committees. These bring together the NHS, social services, opticians and voluntary organisations to promote best practice and improve co-ordination in the commissioning and delivery of services for the blind and partially sighted.

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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in each of the nations of the UK have a sight problem. [79762]

Jacqui Smith: The information shown in the table relates to the number of people registered blind and partially sighted.

Number of people registered as blind and partially sighted

No. registered blindNo. registered partially sighted
As at 31 March 2000
As at 31 March 2001

This information is not currently collected in Northern Ireland.

Laming Report

Ms Debra Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the Laming Report has not yet been published; and when and how it will be published. [79743]

Jacqui Smith: We expect to receive Lord Laming's report into the circumstances that led to the death of Victoria Climbié later this year or early next year. However, neither we nor Lord Laming have set a timetable. The report will be published by my right hon. Friends, the Secretaries of State for Health and the Home Department soon after its receipt and will be made widely available.

Waiting Times

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people are waiting for assessment for (a) homecare aids, (b) adaptations and (c) equipment in each social services department area in the UK; and what the average waiting time for assessment in each area was in the last 12 months. [79976]

Jacqui Smith: This information is not available centrally and may be possible to obtain only by approaching individual social service departments.

The government is investing in services for community equipment and minor adaptations over the years 2001 to 2006. The funding will help these services reduce waiting times in line with the targets set by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, in a statement to the House on 23 July 2002 that, as part of the single assessment process, assessments will be complete with one month of referral and equipment then delivered within seven working days.

Breast Feeding

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on Government policy on encouraging breastfeeding. [79890]

Ms Blears: The Government are fully committed to the promotion of breastfeeding, which is accepted as the best form of nutrition for infants. The National Health Service priorities and planning framework for 2003–2006 includes a challenging new target to deliver

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an increase of two percentage points per year in breastfeeding initiation rate, focusing especially on women from disadvantaged groups. The Infant Feeding Survey 2000 showed that the incidence of breastfeeding in England and Wales increased from 68 per cent. in 1995 to 71 per cent. in 2000, but varied between different social classes and the incidence of breastfeeding in social class v. increased from 50 per cent. in 1995 to 59 per cent. in 2000.

We have recently published for consultation proposals to replace the war-time welfare food scheme with a new programme which would provide better nutrition and greater choice for over 800,000 people in low income families. The current scheme may act as a disincentive for women to breastfeed.

The infant feeding initiative was launched in 1999 to tackle health inequalities with the aim to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding amongst those groups of the population where breastfeeding rates are the lowest. To date, 79 local projects have been funded to identify ''best practice'' to increase breastfeeding rates. The best start project is a randomised control trial looking at an intervention into midwives practice and the impact on breastfeeding duration. The results will be disseminated later this year.

The national breastfeeding awareness week (NBAW) was held in May 2002 with a theme on normalising breastfeeding. NBAW will also be held in May 2003.

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