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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to establish a new, unified health authority for Somerset and Dorset; what plans he has to site the headquarters of the new health authority in Yeovil; and if he will make a statement. 
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Ms Blears [holding answer 31 October 2001]: Public consultation on the boundaries of a proposed new health authority for Somerset and Dorset is under way and will finish on 30 November 2001. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will decide the boundaries for the new health authority in the light of the comments received during the consultation.
Decisions on the management arrangements, including the location of the headquarters, for the proposed Somerset and Dorset health authority have not been taken yet. It will be the responsibility of the new health authority, when established, to make these decisions.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has commissioned into alternative funding mechanisms for the national health service; if he will publish this research; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 31 October 2001]: In March 2001 my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that Derek Wanless, former group chief executive of Nat West bank, would be leading a review to provide a long-term assessment of the technological, demographic and medical trends over the next two decades that will affect the health service.
In the light of these trends, the review will identify the key factors which will determine the financial and other resources required to ensure that the national health service can provide a publicly funded, comprehensive, high quality service available on the basis of clinical need and not ability to pay. The review will report to my right hon. Friend by April 2002.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research his Department has undertaken into the relative cost differences between surgical procedures carried out in the public and private sectors; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 31 October 2001]: The Department has recently conducted a survey of health authorities, primary care trusts and acute trusts on the levels of activity being commissioned in the private sector and the accompanying costs. Analysis is not yet complete.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many asylum-seeking children were supported under (a) section 17 and (b) section 20 of the Children's Act 1989 in the year to June 2001; 
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selected by the authority. This census, for the first time, includes a question on asylum-seeking children. These data will not be available until some time in 2002.
The Home Office administers the grant to local authorities for those unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who are supported under the Children Act. Such children receive a needs assessment from their social services department. This should look at children's cases on an individual basis but it is likely that those children under 16 will be assessed as needing to be taken into care under section 20 of the Children Act. Older children may be assessed as needing the less intensive support available under section 17. As at 26 January 2001, local authorities were claiming grant for
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 17 October 2001, Official Report, column 1240W, on beta interferon (No. 7427), what assessment he has made of the cost of beta interferon (a) in the UK and (b) in other countries; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) Appraisal Committee further considered the evidence on the use of beta interferon and glatiramer acetate for multiple sclerosis sufferers on 25 September 2001. NICE has subsequently issued a provisional appraisal determination (PAD) to interested parties for comment.
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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the average waiting times in each English hospital trust for knee replacement operations in each of the last three years. 
As part of the NHS Plan, the maximum waiting time for in-patient treatment will be cut from 18 months now to six months by the end of 2005. As a first step towards this reduction, the maximum wait for a national health service operation will be cut to 15 months by the end of March 2002.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have been waiting for (a) in-patient and (b) out-patient operations for each reporting period over the last 20 years; what proportion of these people have been waiting for (i) more than two years, (ii) more than 18 months, (iii) more than one year, (iv) more than nine months and (v) more than six months; and if he will make a statement. 
As part of the NHS Plan, the national health service is working towards reducing the current maximum in-patient wait of 18 months to 15 months by March 2002, 12 months by March 2003, nine months by March 2004 and finally six months by the end of 2005. The maximum out-patient waiting time will fall from over six months today to six months by March 2002 and three months by 2005. No specific targets have been set within the NHS Plan for further reducing waiting lists but modelling suggests that as waiting times fall so waiting lists will shorten.
In January 2001, the British Association of Otorhinolaryngologists released guidance on the use of single-use instruments for tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy operations due to the theoretical risk of contracting vCJD. This had an effect on in-patient waiting lists due to the number of patients waiting for these types of operations.
|Of those on in-patient waiting list, percentage who have waited:|
|Quarter||Size of in-patient waiting list||More than 6 months||More than 9 months||More than 12 months||More than 18 months||More than 24 months|
Before September 1987 figures relate to ordinary (overnight) admissions. Number of people waiting for day cases were not collected before this date.
KH07 quarterly return
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|Of those on out-patient waiting list, number who have waited:|
|Quarter||Size of out-patient waiting list||3 to 6 months||more than 6 months||more than 9 months||more than 12 months||more than 18 months||more than 24 months|
Out-patient data not available prior to June 1995.
Data on the total number of patients on out-patient waiting list is not collected.
Data on the number of out-patients waiting over nine, over 12, over 18 and over 24 months
is not collected.
QM08 quarterly return
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