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Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, can the Minister say to what extent the shortage of staffed intensive care beds is contributing to the cancellation of very major surgery in patients who are extremely ill with life-threatening conditions?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, it is not possible for me to quantify how many operations might have been cancelled because of a particular problem with a critical care bed in a particular hospital. What I can tell the noble Baroness is that, just as we have seen an increase in the past three yearsfor the first time in 20 yearsin the number of general and acute beds, we have also seen a big increase in the number of critical care beds. Using as a baseline 15th January 2000, there were 2,362 critical beds; by July 2002, the number had increased to 3,070.
Lord Turnberg: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that while the causes of cancelled operations are multiple and vary from place to place, in many instances surgeons find themselves unable to operate because of a lack of time or space in theatres? Is not this whole matter compounded by the difficulty in discharging patients into the community where they would be better off?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, as regards the discharge of patients, we shall introduce a Bill to incentivise local authorities to do what is required to ensure that when a patient has finished his treatment and is ready to return to the community the relevant local authority makes the necessary arrangements. There are instances of pressures with regard to theatre use but that matter is being tackled. I believe that a more flexible working pattern on the part of staff in the NHS would enable those theatres to be used more effectively.
Lord Elton: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the growing body of anecdotal evidence that the money to which he referred in his reply to the first supplementary question of my noble friend on the Front Bench is simply not coming out of the other end of the pipe into which it is poured? Will the Minister reassure me as regards the following matter? In the spring I heard at a meeting held by people running cancer units in Greater London that they had not received the money that was promised to them. I also
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, we monitor carefully the two matters to which the noble Lord referred. I understand that the improvements that we wanted to see take place in cancer services are taking place. As regards the general resource question, as I think I have already said, one cannot judge the use of resources simply in terms of the number of hospital admissions. Resources are being used, for example, to increase drug budgets. That enables people to receive better treatment and often means that they do not have to go into hospital. We are also using resources more effectively by increasing the use of GPs and primary care. Overall, the NHS is treating more patients more quickly and more effectively. That is the pathway to an improved and excellent NHS.
The noble Baroness said: This amendment aims to try to plug a number of loopholes which the drafting of the Bill has left open. It is my understanding that as the Bill stands any payment made by the promoter to the performers of music at a private event is enough to trigger the regulation of an event. By that rationale, an event within a private home, or a private rehearsal by musicians who receive payment, becomes a licensable activity. While it is clearly important to try to give a comprehensive definition of the provision of regulated entertainment, there are also cases where regulation imposes needless bureaucracy and causes confusion and complication for those taking part in the entertainment, most particularly for professional musicians.
I hope that the Government will clarify the issue of payment and explain their thinking on that aspect of the Bill. We on these Benches have turned to lawyers with expertise in licensing law. Their view of the situation with the Bill as currently drafted is clear. They state that they understand that the Bill's wording not only captures private events where band leaders, for example, are hired to organise live music, but also children's entertainers, for example, Cocoa the Clown. This amendment is essential to ensure that simply because a musician is paid to arrange live music, which may include several different bands, solo performers and so on, private events such as wedding receptions or bar mitzvahs do not become illegal unless licensed. I beg to move.
Lord Skelmersdale: Does not the matter go wider than that? The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, is an opera lover. She will have attended performances given by, for example, Diva Opera, in private houses and other locations which may or may not have raised money for charitable purposes. At Question Time hospices were discussed. Is it the intention to cover those events? If so, I, and I am sure, various noble friends would consider that that is quite wrong.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 1 of the first schedule requires that certain conditions must be met for entertainment to be regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment under the Bill. Sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 1 provides:
The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, made a wider point about private parties to which I should like to respond if an amendment were tabled on that subject. However, the measure we are discussing does not concern that point. The amendment would exempt instances where a charge was made by or on behalf of someone organising the management of the facility if they were a performer or a person representing performers dealing with the promoters of the entertainment. But, as I said, the exemption would apply only where the entertainment or facilities were not provided to members of the public or members of a club and their guests.
Taking the amendment literally, I do not see why the safety concerns of the public would be reduced simply because the performer, or someone representing performers, was the person organising or managing the entertainment facilities to whom a charge was paid. Why should a premises owned by a musician, for examplebecause that is what the measure would meanbe exempt from a requirement when a normal
Lord Redesdale: Before the noble Lord sits down, his explanation gave the impression that a private performer, for example, concerned with musical dance, would have to license his or her own home. If the entertainer in question offered children's entertainment, would the relevant child's home have to be licensed premises under the Bill?
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