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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures his Department is taking to (a) identify and (b) remove barriers to the take-up of internet proof of (i) age and (ii) identity authentication services by (A) individuals and (B) business users. 
The Office of the e-Envoy in the Cabinet Office will shortly publish consultation papers that identify, and propose policies to remove, barriers to the take up of authentication services based on the use of digital signatures.
The Government continue to support tScheme; an industry-led voluntary co-regulatory approval body for Trusted Service Providers (TSP). tScheme or equivalent approval will be required for authentication services used to support electronic transactions with Government.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will ensure that Chorley and South Ribble accident and emergency department plays a central role in achieving the improvements to services planned by the Government; 
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(4) what change in service levels has taken place at the accident and emergency department at Chorley hospital in each of the last five years; 
(5) if he will support a casualty department at Chorley and South Ribble hospital; 
(6) what assistance he provides to recruit extra staff to work on the accident and emergency department at Chorley and South Ribble hospital; 
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(8) if he will ensure that emergency and orthopaedic services continue to be dealt with at Chorley and South Ribble hospital; 
(9) if he will make a statement on the merits of operating a full accident and emergency department at Chorley hospital. 
Jacqui Smith: Chorley and South Ribble accident and emergency department plays a central role in the current services and will continue to do so. Figures for the number of accident and emergency cases taken to Chorley and Preston are based on the accident and emergency information system, which was introduced in 199798. Comparable earlier data are not available:
|All ambulance patients||4,046||5,840||6,491||7,097|
|All ambulance patients admitted to Chorley||1,544||2,576||2,812||3,303|
|All Chorley ambulance patients admitted to Preston||169||239||277||291|
|Total A&E patients transferred to Preston||760||1,339||1,415||1,472|
The unification of the accident and emergency department for Chorley and Preston has brought many enhancements to service levels and an increase in activity, as shown in the tables. The rotation of consultants and their junior colleagues between the two sites has enabled medical staff to gain the relevant experience at both locations to provide comprehensive, quality health care. This has led, specifically at Chorley, to more consultants working on the hospital site and, at the same time, to an increase in the number of middle grade doctors working over the 24-hour period.The accident and emergency service for Central Lancashire, which is provided on both sites, already has an excellent record of recruiting staff for the department. It is, for example, one of the few units in the north-west with a full complement of nursing staff.
Chorley and South Ribble accident and emergency department was redeveloped and expanded in August 1996. The link with Preston has secured the future of this service, so that the population of Chorley and South Ribble will continue to enjoy access to two accident and emergency departments, at Chorley and Preston. Based on existing guidelines, and through its partnership arrangements, Chorley and South Ribble district general hospital has the capacity to provide 24-hour A&E cover in all clinical situations.
The Boards of Chorley and South Ribble NHS Trust and Preston acute hospitals national health service trust made it clear that Chorley will continue to provide 24-hour emergency services. The Chorley and South Ribble primary care trust supports that plan. In addition, Chorley and South Ribble district general hospital will continue to play a major role in the provision of orthopaedic services for Central Lancashire.
Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) digital and (b) analogue hearing aids have been fitted under the NHS as part of the modernising NHS hearing aid services project. 
Jacqui Smith: By the end of November 2001, 18,227 adults had been assessed for digital aids and 16,628 digital hearing aids had been fitted by the 20 national health service trusts involved in the pilot project. Additionally, another 1,146 analogue hearing aids were fitted at those centres.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 16 November 2001, Official Report, column 948, on digital hearing aids, if the funding decisions for 200203 for the sites already providing digital hearing aids will be based on maintaining annual levels of service in the provision of digital hearing aids at each site. 
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the projects that his Department funds that provide medically approved therapy through leisure and sporting outlets; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: The Department does not fund any projects to provide therapy through leisure and sporting outlets, although there are exercise referral schemes whereby primary care staff can refer patients to leisure centres for advice and assistance in increasing physical activity. However, I understand my hon. Friend is particularly concerned about the provision of hydrotherapy services. Hydrotherapy can be provided by the national health service and patients in the first instance should discuss their condition with their general practitioner or consultant, who can advise and refer appropriately.
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Furthermore, I am informed that there are local hydrotherapy services in the North-East at Middlesbrough General Hospital, Hartlepool University Hospital and University Hospital of North Tees. In addition, there are special schools with hydrotherapy pools, which may be available when not being used by the children. These are:
Bishopsgarth Comprehensive School in North Tees
Whitehouse Farm School in Stocton
New Ormesby School or Tennyman Junior School in Middlesborough have special units and possibly have pools.
Jacqui Smith: The Diabetes National Service Framework standards will be published shortly and the delivery strategy in summer 2002. Publishing in this way will enable us to engage the national health service, partner agencies and people with diabetes more closely in planning and managing the implementation of the Framework. It will also enable us to take account of the resources that will be available in future to support implementation, and the changing roles and responsibilities of NHS organisations and staff. We are also responding to the current pressures on the NHS, particularly in primary care.
Jacqui Smith: We will be publishing the Diabetes National Service Framework in two stages, with the standards this year to be followed by the delivery strategy in summer 2002. Publishing in this way will enable us to engage the national health service, partner agencies and people with diabetes more closely in planning and managing the implementation of the Framework. It will also enable us to take account of the resources that will be available in future to support implementation, and the changing roles and responsibilities of NHS organisations and staff.
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