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Legionella Outbreak in Barrow-in-Furness: PHLS Support

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The main contribution of the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) was in processing environmental specimens (water) and in the typification of the patient-derived legionella specimens for matching to the environmental evidence. It supplied the capacity for, and assisted in, testing

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clinical specimens both locally and nationally. It also supplied the capacity for serological follow-up and processing of environmental specimens. In addition to its laboratory expertise, the PHLS in the North-West contributed the expertise of two consultants who between them have wide experience in the management of Legionnaires' Disease outbreaks. Their contributions to the investigation of the outbreak were particularly important in the areas of epidemiological analysis, environmental reviews, forensic evidence collection and management. We are still evaluating the many lessons that are to be learned from this outbreak. It was a large outbreak and was resolved only by the active participation of many agencies including the PHLS, NHS trusts, the Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Unit, the Health and Safety Executive, the local authority environmental health department, and the Cumbria police. Very good co-operation existed between all partners throughout the investigation, which was an essential feature of the successful management of this outbreak.

Local Authority Children's Homes

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to take action to ensure that local authority childcare homes have adequate funding and enough appropriately trained staff to provide the care that damaged children need.[HL654]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are making significant additional resources available for personal social services (PSS) over the next three years (2003–04 to 2005–06). Total PSS resources are set to increase by an average 6 per cent per year in real terms over that period. The children's services grant alone will total over £560 million in 2003–04. However, most of the resources available to local government are not earmarked and it is for each individual local council to decide how much to spend on its children's homes in the light of its local priorities. The Care Standards Act commenced in April 2002. National minimum standards for children's homes were issued along with this Act and these form the basis for judgments made by the National Care Standards Commission as to whether individual homes are providing satisfactory care for the children they are looking after. Standard 29 states that in every children's home a minimum ratio of all staff should have completed their National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 3 in Caring for Children and Young People by January 2005. Staff may hold other qualifications that require similar competencies to the NVQ3. Currently £57 million is allocated through the training support programme. The objective of this is to increase significantly the proportion of staff who have appropriate qualifications for the work that

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they undertake, at vocational, qualifying and post-qualifying levels. In 2003–04—as part of the financial settlement for the personal social services—new grants have been allocated to improve the skills of the social care workforce, so that they are able to deliver care that meets the national minimum standards.

Antenatal Clinics

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many professionals are employed in antenatal clinics and are trained to offer advice to prospective parents on the emotional needs of young children; and what proportion of the total this represents.[HL655]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Information about the numbers of professionals employed in antenatal clinics and their training is not collected centrally. The General Medical Council expects all medical graduates to understand human development and areas of psychology and sociology relevant to medicine, including child, adolescent and adult development. Graduates must take account of patients' understanding and experience of their condition, and be aware of the psychological effects that this can have on them and their families.

NHS: Research and Development Budget

Lord Turnberg asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the research and development budget for the National Health Service in each of the past five years; and what percentage of the total National Health Service budget these represented for each of these years.[HL709]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The National Health Service expenditure on research and development in England in each of the past five years is given as follows, along with the percentages of total NHS expenditure in England that these figures represent.

1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–02
£426 million£420 million£434 million£449 million£475 million
1.23 per cent1.15 per cent1.09 per cent1.02 per cent0.96 per cent

The research and development budget has increased in real terms by 1.5 per cent above inflation. The Government's aim is to ensure that there are enough resources to meet the NHS's need for research. This is underpinned by a drive to deliver high quality research and takes account of the activities of other funders of research in the NHS, which are the research councils, the universities and the medical research charities.

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Mental Health: Black and Minority Ethnic Groups

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a draft strategy to improve mental care of black and minority ethnic groups has been produced by a national reference group working to the Mental Health Task Force; when they expect Ministers to approve the strategy; when they expect to publish the strategy; and what the reasons are for delay in approving and publishing the strategy.[HL723]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: A national reference group, led by Professor Sashi Sashidharan, has produced a report which recommends actions to improve mental health services for people from black and minority ethnic groups. The report is due to be published early in 2003.

Hospices

Lord Hayhoe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 9 December (WA 14), what proportion of the additional funds intended for hospices has reached front-line services in the latest 12-month period for which figures or estimates are available; and what is the shortfall.[HL765]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The NHS Cancer Plan commitment is that National Health Service investment in specialist palliative care will increase by £50 million per annum by 2003–04, compared with 2000–01. This increase is intended both to enable the NHS to make a more realistic contribution to the costs hospices incur in providing agreed levels of service, and to tackle inequalities in access to specialist palliative care. We have not identified a specific share intended for hospices.

Potters Bar Points 2182A:Communications and Responsibilities

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What communication took place during the week beginning 4 November between the Department for Transport and the Health and Safety Executive, and between the Department for Transport and Network Rail, over the planned reinstatement of points 2182A at Potters Bar during the weekend of 9–10 November; and whether the Department for Transport was responsible for the cancellation of the planned work.[HL244]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The department has regular contact with Network Rail and the Health and Safety Executive. In the week in question, the reinstatement of points 2182A was raised

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in conversations between senior officials and Network Rail's management. However, the decision not to reinstate these points was taken by Network Rail.

Procurement

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they oppose the European Parliament amendments to the proposals for revision of the European Union Public Procurement Directives, which would permit wider use of social criteria at the award stage.[HL711]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Government view the proposals for revision of the EC Public Procurement Directives, which reached political agreement at the May 2002 Internal Market, Consumer Affairs and Tourism Council, as achieving the right balance on the use of social criteria at the award stage of the procurement process. The use of social criteria at this stage is permissible where such criteria are relevant to the subject matter of the contract, and provide a benefit to the contracting authority. Going beyond this, at the award stage, which would be the effect of certain EP amendments, would not be consistent with the principles, including value for money, on which the directives are based. It is at the earlier, specification stage that relevant wider issues should be considered.


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