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Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made following the launch of initiatives designed to speed up the process through which refugee doctors find work in the UK. 
Mr. Denham: We have already approved the use of funds available within HRD to support initial work on obtaining data on numbers, geographic distribution and training career history of refugee doctors and dentists in the UK.
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The initiative has been extended to cover refugee nurses and other trained health professionals. A Department of Health Steering Group has been charged with managing, co-ordinating and promoting all aspects of the programme. Working with the many organisations in the field they will ensure that counselling, advice and training is made available to refugee health professionals wishing to use their skills within the National Health Service.
The Steering Group will consider all other bids and initiatives as part of an overall strategy designed to ensure that the NHS benefits from the services of as many trained health professionals as possible.
Mr. Denham: Information about refugee doctors is not collected centrally. We do not know, at the moment, how many refugee doctors are in the United Kingdom. As part of the refugee health professional initiative, we have commissioned a database to collect information. Funding of £10,000 has been provided to the voluntary sector for this work, and more is available for its extension to nurses and other trained health professionals.
Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will publish the advice given to health authorities in respect of procedures to be followed for the compilation of waiting list figures for cataract operations. 
Mr. Denham [holding answer 5 March 2001]: Waiting list information for cataract operations is compiled in the same way as for other types of inpatient hospital treatment. Guidance on compiling waiting list and waiting time figures is contained in the national health service data manual and the NHS data dictionary which are distributed to all NHS trusts and health authorities.
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for the second procedure. Planned admissions are, and have always been, excluded from published waiting list statistics.
We are aware that some patients are waiting too long for cataract operations and we have made £30 million capital available over two years to tackle this. Hospitals receiving shares of this money will ensure that by 2003 patients will have to wait no longer than six months from referral to hospital to surgery.
Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if his Department will take the lead in developing a cross-departmental strategy to promote the health benefits of physical activity; 
(3) what plans he has to appoint a Joint Special Adviser between his Department and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport; 
(4) what plans he has to (a) encourage physical activity in society and (b) tackle increasing levels of obesity among young people; 
(5) what plans he has for greater co-operation between his Department and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on issues relating to (a) public health and (b) physical activity. 
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 March 2001]: The NHS Plan emphasises that health is a key priority for Government. We are taking action to step up the cross- governmental focus on inequalities and public health. This includes close working between the Department and that of my right hon. Friend in areas such as physical activity and obesity. The importance of physical activity is emphasised in the national service framework for coronary heart disease which requires that by April 2001 all national health service bodies working closely with local authorities will have agreed and be contributing to the delivery of the local programme of effective policies on increasing physical activity.
The Department of Health and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport work closely together on the public health elements of the new opportunities fund's healthy living centre initiative. Last year the fund provided over £6 million to the Countryside Agency and the British Heart Foundation to run the "Walking, the Way to Health" initiative.
As part of our on-going collaboration, this Department and that of my right hon. Friend will consider the potential for developing joint targets and joint appointments. The inter-ministerial group to improve children's diet and activity, set up by the Minister for Public Health will also consider cross-departmental action to promote the health benefits of exercise, sport and other forms of physical activity and to tackle increasing levels of obesity. The group will assess what is already being done and discuss proposals for future joint working as set out in "A Sporting Future for All: the Government's Plan for Sport".
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The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, in conjunction with the Department for Education and Employment, has developed a number of initiatives to improve opportunities for children to enjoy high quality physical education and sporting activity in schools and the community.
Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will (a) make a statement on the work of the inter-ministerial group to improve children's diet and activity and (b) list the initiatives it has undertaken; 
The group will meet shortly to discuss physical activity and sport among children and young people. It will build on existing work on school sport, the national healthy school standard on physical activity and safe routes to school. It will address future opportunities for action in the light of the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor-General in his report "Tackling Obesity in England".
Ms Stuart: Although there are some significant similarities between treatment and prevention strategies for alcohol, drugs and tobacco, there are also very significant differences in terms of the mortality and morbidity associated with each and their impact on society. We believe therefore that it is more effective to have separate strategies to tackle each under the umbrella of the Government's overarching goals of combating social exclusion, reducing health inequalities and tackling criminality.
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