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16 Jul 2003 : Column 405W—continued

Territorial Army

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the Territorial Army remains available for mobilisation; how many TA soldiers this represents; and what proportion of the Territorial Army will be available for mobilisation at the start of 2004. [124497]

Mr. Caplin: Taking into account those personnel who have, (a) already been mobilised for operational deployment; (b) are considered not yet Fit For Role (defined as the minimum level of training required for mobilisation); (c) are serving on full-time reserve Service: or (d) have already been deployed at some point over the last three years 1 ; some 12,000 soldiers, or 30 per cent. of the Territorial Army remain available for compulsory mobilisation.

This figure does not take into account those members of the TA who would be prepared to volunteer to be mobilised, which could lead to a marked increase of the overall number of personnel available for mobilisation.

It is not possible to provide an accurate picture of what this figure will be in January 2004, as too many variables exist. We continue to keep the situation under review.

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Written Ministerial Statements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many written ministerial statements have been made by the Department since 29 October 2002. [126621]

Mr. Caplin: The Ministry of Defence has made 108 written ministerial statements since 29 October 2002 up to and including 15 July 2003.


Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his policy on the conclusions of the 1994 House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics on the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia. [126040]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The question of whether of not to legalise euthanasia was considered in great detail by the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, reporting in 1994. The Committee concluded that the practice of euthanasia could not be supported, partly because of the difficulties in setting secure limits on voluntary euthanasia and also because of concerns that vulnerable people might feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to request early death. The Government's position has been that it shares the views of the Committee, that any proposal to change the law in this area would need to be considered very carefully and that we have no plans to change the current law.

Aston Hall Hospital

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what capital resources will be made available to ensure that the reprovisioning of Aston Hall hospital proceeds. [126061]

Dr. Ladyman: I refer my hon. Friend to the response I gave him on 1 July 2003, Official Report, column 227W.

Boarding Schools

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints have been received about boarding provision at (a) Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference and Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools boarding schools and (b) all boarding schools in each of the last five years. [125174]

Dr. Ladyman: The information requested is available only centrally since 1 April 2002, when the National Care Standards Commission came into operation.

Since April 2002, there have been six complaints about schools who are members of the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference and Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools boarding schools and nine complaints about other boarding schools.

Cancer Services

Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made to appoint more cancer nurse specialists. [124602]

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Mr. Hutton: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Dr. Gibson) on 10 July 2003, Official Report, column 1001–02W.

Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much blood transfusions for cancer patients cost the NHS in each of the last five years; and what the main costs were; [123379]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Information on the cost to the national health service of blood transfusions for cancer patients and on the numbers of cancer patients who have had their chemotherapy treatment postponed due to bed shortages is not collected centrally.

The Department does not collect data centrally that would enable it to make an accurate assessment of the potential economic benefits, such as saved bed days, of using alternatives to blood transfusions.

There is a national patient information leaflet published earlier this year and produced by the National Blood Service for patients who may receive a blood transfusion. The leaflet includes a section on alternatives to blood transfusions—although this is directed principally at surgical rather than cancer patients. When the leaflet is next reviewed, consideration will be given to providing more information on other possible alternatives to blood transfusion. In addition, guidance on information provision for cancer patients will be included in supportive and palliative care guidance currently being produced by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. We expect the guidance to be published early next year.

Delayed Discharge

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people are waiting in hospitals in (a) Chesham and Amersham and (b) Buckinghamshire for placements in care homes. [123906]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is not collected centrally at that level. However, at the fourth quarter of 2002–03, there were 47 people occupying an acute hospital bed and waiting for placement in a care home in the Thames Valley Health Authority area.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with local authority social services departments regarding the funding of care homes. [126094]

Dr. Ladyman: I have not yet had discussions with particular local authorities regarding the funding of care homes. I am, however, aware that the care home sector has been experiencing financial difficulties. That is why we are giving local councils record levels of funding.

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Resources for social services have increased by 20 per cent. in real terms between 1996–97 and 2002–03, an average of over 3 per cent. per annum and will continue to increase over the next three years by an average of 6 per cent. per annum in real terms. Local councils will be able to use these substantial extra resources to increase local provision or to rebalance the care home market and increase fee levels if that is what is needed.

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice he has issued to care home proprietors faced with (a) the need to appoint staff to meet statutory requirements and (b) delays in processing Criminal Records Bureau clearances. [125813]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 15 July 2003]: The Department has not issued formal guidance to care home providers about what to do when the processing application of the application for a criminal record disclosure takes longer than normal. Under the Care Standards Act all care homes in England are regulated by the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC). It is for the NCSC to satisfy itself that care homes conform to statutory requirements and the commission provides appropriate guidance to providers on meeting the requirements.

The performance of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has now greatly improved. In the week ending 5 July, the CRB issued 95 per cent. of standard disclosures within two weeks and 94 per cent. of enhanced disclosures within four weeks, against a service standard of 90 per cent. in each case.

However, for those occasions when, for whatever reason, the issue of a disclosure may take longer than normal the NCSC has published guidance for care provider. This is available on its website at

Charges Policy

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the Government policy is on charges for health services. [125417]

Mr. Hutton: Treatment provided by the national health service is free at the point of delivery, except in cases where specific legislation has been passed allowing a charge to be made. The current services for which a charge can be made are:

The NHS can also charge for the provision of accommodation and services for private resident and non-resident patients.

In addition to the above, NHS hospitals can charge for certain patient services using income generation powers. However, a charge can only be made where the service is considered to be additional treatments over and above the normal service provision. Any item or

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service that is considered to be an integral part of a patient's treatment by their clinician will remain free of charge.

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