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Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the additional funding required for health services if an asylum seekers centre were to be established at Throckmorton airfield. 
Mr. Hutton: Proposals for trial accommodation centres for asylum seekers include primary health care facilities on site, to be funded by the Home Office. As yet, no assessment has been made in respect of any additional health or social care needs. The Department and the Home Office are working closely on these matters.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what surgical treatment is made available to epilepsy sufferers in (a) the New Forest, (b) Southampton and South West Hampshire and (c) Dorset; and if he will make a statement. 
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In February 2001 the Government announced a national service framework for long-term health conditions. The framework will ensure health and social services work together in all parts of the country to provide the right level of care and treatment for people with long-term health conditions such as epilepsy. The framework is due to be implemented from 2005. In the interim, the Government have asked the Modernisation Agency to advise on the redesign of the pattern of care for people with epilepsy.
Ms Blears: We have not received any representations on the availability of Prazosin through pharmacies. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has drawn up a list of therapeutic categories of medicines which might be possible candidates for pharmacy availability. This list includes Prazosin, particularly for use in benign prostatic hyperplasia, following initial doctor diagnosis. Any application for pharmacy availability of Prazosin would be assessed by the Medicines Control Agency, expert committee advice would be sought, followed by a period of public consultation before a decision was made.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evaluation he has made of the pilot programmes for the modernisation of the hearing-impaired service utilising digital hearing aids; and what plans he has to (a) continue with the pilots and (b) roll out the programme throughout the NHS. 
Jacqui Smith: The pilots are being evaluated by the Institute of Hearing Research, who will complete their evaluation in December 2002. The existing pilot sites are continuing to participate and I announced on 10 April 2002, Official Report, columns 465W-66W, the names of those sites who would be joining the project in the financial year 200203.
We are now in the process of identifying further sites to receive training and equipment to enable them to join the project after April 2003. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People will be contacting all those sites not yet involved in the project and encouraging those with an interest to have discussions with their health community and put forward a bid.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which health trusts have announced an intention to withdraw from the pilot programme for hearing-impaired patients, citing funding uncertainty; and what his assessment is of the abortive expenditure incurred. 
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(3) what recent assessment he has made of the number of children acting as carers; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what support is available to young people acting as carers; and if he will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: The most recent estimates currently available of the number of carers, including young carers, are contained in the report on Informal Carers by the Office for National Statistics published in 1995. A copy of the report is available in the Library. Further data were collected in the 2000 General Household Survey whose results are currently being collated by ONS. I understand that their report is likely to be available shortly. A question to aid the identification of carers was included in the 2001 census.
Under section 17 of the Children Act social services departments can provide support and advice to young carers. We have prioritised services for young carers through the £885 million Quality Protects programme and the National Strategy for Carers.
The carers grant is £85 million this year and it will increase to £100 million in 200304 to ensure that more carers are able to receive breaks. We are consulting with external stakeholders on the Carers and Disabled Children (Vouchers) Regulations to be implemented this year. This will give local authorities power to issue vouchers for short term breaks. We are also revising the Hospital Discharge Workbook which gives guidance to the national health service, social services and other agencies on hospital discharge procedures. Improvements in GP computer systems completed at the end of March 2002 means that all GPs are able to record as part of patient record details whether a person is a carer. They are encouraged to do so in order to facilitate the process of sign-posting carers to relevant services. My hon. Friend may also find it useful to note the information about the support available to carers that I referred to in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) on 9 July 2001, Official Report, columns 34244W.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he plans to meet patient representatives of senior ophthalmologists to discuss the implications of preliminary NICE guidance on the use of photodynamic therapy to treat age-related macular degeneration; 
(3) what assessment his Department has made of the preliminary NICE guidance on the use of photodynamic therapy to detect age-related macular degeneration, and if he will make a statement. 
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NICE have published for consultation the initial thoughts of the independent appraisal committee. This consultation document is available on the NICE website (www.nice.org.uk) and provides organisations representing patients, professions and manufacturers with the opportunity to comment. The closing date for comments is 30 April 2002.
As it is possible that the document issued for consultation may change, it would be inappropriate for the Department to comment until their final guidance has been published. Guidance will be issued to the national health service when NICE have concluded their appraisal.
In the meantime, we have asked NHS bodies to continue with local arrangements for the managed introduction of new technologies where guidance from NICE is not available at the time the technology first became available. These arrangements should involve an assessment of all relevant factors including the available evidence on effect.
Out-patients waiting 13 weeks or more (December 2001): 61,826.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people were waiting 13 weeks or more for an out-patient appointment in Hull and the East Riding in each of the last three quarters. 
Jacqui Smith: At the end of the third quarter of 200102, there were 4,275 East Riding and Hull residents with a general practitioner written referral who had not yet been seen for a first out-patient appointment, and who had waited 13 weeks or over. The corresponding figures for the end of the second quarter of 200102 and the end of the first quarter of 200102 are 4,579 and 4,355 respectively.
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