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Jacqui Smith: Poor performance will not be rewarded with additional resources. In four of the 10 councils rated as zero where we do not believe they have the capacity to improve by themselves, we are providing external assistance from the performance fund.
Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government (Mr. Raynsford) launched a consultation on options for the reform of the local government finance system on 8 July. This included options on possible changes to the foster care adjustment in the children's personal social services formula grant. One of the options includes an ethnicity element. No decisions have yet been taken and we would welcome representation from all interested parties.
Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the Laming report has not been published; when and by what mechanism it will be published; and when he will respond to the report. 
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Jacqui Smith: Lord Laming continues to receive and to consider evidence, and intends to complete his report later this year. It will be published, following its receipt by the Secretaries of State for Health and the Home Department, and will be made widely available. We will respond to the report once its findings and recommendations has been considered.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what his policy is on the co-ordination of neonatal intensive care with the paediatric surgical sub- specialisation of (a) cleft lip and palate, (b) ophthalmology and (c) otolaryngology; 
(3) what his policy is on the recruitment, retention and career progression of neonatal intensive care nurses; 
(4) what assessment he makes of the staffing levels for doctors and nurses in neonatal intensive care; and what plans he has to increase these; 
(5) how the needs of sick or premature new-born infants are categorised in the NHS; and what changes he proposes to make to these; 
(6) what assessment he has made of the availability of capacity to meet demand in neonatal intensive care; 
(7) what his policy is on the co-ordination of neonatal intensive care with the paediatric sub-specialisation of (a) cardiology, (b) neurosurgery, (c) neurology, (d) nephrology, (e) radiology, (f) hepatology, (g) gastro- enterology, (h) endocrinology and (i) haematology; 
(8) what arrangements he will make to build networks to facilitate and exchange information on research into neonatal intensive care; 
(9) what assessment he makes of the impact of restrictions on hours of work for junior doctors on the provision of neonatal intensive care; 
(10) what action he plans to make available statistics on types of treatment given and outcomes in neonatal intensive care other than mortality; 
(11) what action he intends to take to improve the co-ordination between neonatal intensive care facilities and general maternity facilities in the NHS; 
(12) what provisions are made in the NHS for parents of sick or premature new-born infants who require neonatal intensive care; 
(13) what assessment he has made of the changes needed in the organisation of neonatal intensive care; and if he will make a statement. 
Jacqui Smith: A review has been undertaken of provision for neonatal services which addresses the issues raised by the hon. Member. I have received a report following the review. This is currently under active consideration. I expect to determine the next steps in this process shortly.
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Mr. Lammy: The list of medical conditions conferring prescription charge exemption has not been reviewed since 1998 and we have no plans to do so. Our policy is to give priority to helping people who may have difficulty in paying charges, rather than extending the exemption arrangements to people with other medical conditions.
Jacqui Smith: The Government are committed to maximising support to disabled young people so that they have the same chance to succeed and participate in society as their non-disabled peers. As part of the Government's Quality Protects programme we have set national objectives to improve family support and inclusive sport and leisure services for disabled children and young people. We have earmarked £60 million over three years from the children's special grant£15 million in 200102 and 200203 and £30 million in 200304. The 2001 national overview report of local authority's Quality Protects Management Action Plans shows that councils are improving services by providing more: family support; accessible after-school activities; supported access to leisure facilities; transport to facilities and specialist support workers. Through the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, we have introduced direct payments for 16 and 17-year-old disabled young people. This will increase choice, flexibility and access to services of their choice.
Jacqui Smith: In "Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century", issued in 2001, the Government set a national objective to improve transition services for young disabled people as they enter adulthood and in particular to ensure continuity of care and support. We have taken action to improve services in a number of ways:
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The new Connexions personal advisers will identify disabled young people in their area and will work with the school and other relevant agencies to draw up the transition plans.
New guidance on improving multi-agency transition support for young disabled people leaving school has been included in the revised SEN Code of Practice.
For disabled young people leaving care, the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 places a duty on councils to provide young people aged 16 and over in and leaving care with support.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to fill vacant dermatology positions in the NHS; and what plans he has to increase the trainee posts in dermatology. 
Mr. Hutton: The national health service vacancy survey collects information on the number of posts, which trusts are actively trying to fill which have been vacant for three months or more. As at 31 March 2002 there were 20 posts (6.0 per cent. vacancy rate) that had been vacant for three months or more in dermatology.
Increased vacancies are to be expected at a time when we are trying to dramatically increase the size of the work force. New investment enables NHS trusts to create new posts however there can be a delay in providing sufficient staff for all the posts. The number of consultants in dermatology increased from 343 in September 1999 to 387 in March 2002. This is an increase of 13 per cent.
In the short-term we are looking to boost the number of doctors through measures such as increasing progression through training, improved recruitment and retention measures, recruiting internationally and promoting flexible retirement. In the longer term we are substantially increasing the number of doctors in training.
As at 30 September 2001 there were 265 specialist registrars in dermatology in the NHS in England. These increases, together with existing specialist registrar training places are expected to result in a consultant expansion in dermatology of 47 per cent. by 2010.
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