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Written Answers

Thursday 17 May 2012

Atos Healthcare

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have received any complaints regarding the handling of letters from general medical practitioners regarding home visit applications by Atos Healthcare; and how such letters are recorded, held on claimants’ files and actioned.[HL73]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): DWP has received complaints from general practitioners (GPs) regarding the process whereby Atos healthcare request that claimants obtain further medical evidence from their GP when they ask for a domiciliary visit. However, there is no central recording of these complaints and no means of ascertaining the number of complaints. Normal procedures would be for a departmental official to respond direct to the GP addressing the issues raised but the information would not be held on the claimant’s file.

British Virgin Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the statement on 14 February by the British Virgin Islands Minister for Health and Social Development, Ronnie Skelton, regarding the reasons for their discussions with the Government of the British Virgin Islands about its budget.[HL41]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We recognise that there was substantial scrutiny by the Standing Finance Committee in the British Virgin Islands’ House of Assembly during the budgetary process. We welcome the steps that the British Virgin Islands’ Government have taken to return their public finances to a sustainable footing, demonstrated by the signing in April 2012 of Protocols for Effective Financial Management, which set out a range of measures to strengthen public financial management in the territory. The protocols are a reaffirmation by both Governments of their desire to work in partnership, in line with the British Government’s strategy towards the Overseas Territories.

Crime: Rural Crime

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what resources have been allocated to combat rural crime (1) nationally and (2) specifically in Derbyshire.[HL77]

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): There are no specific grants which relate to rural crime. The majority of government funding for the police is allocated using the police allocation formula (PAF). The PAF distributes funding based on the needs or workloads for each police force area. A portion of the funding is also distributed according to population sparsity. This sparsity indicator is used to address the specific needs of rural forces.

Electrocution and Electric Shock

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) injuries through electric shock and (2) deaths through electrocution there were in England in each year since 2007.[HL3]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information is not held in the format requested. The available data are provided in the following tables.

Count of Accident and Emergency (A&E) attendances1 with a primary diagnosis of electric shock2 for the years 2007-08 to 2010-113

Activity in English National Health Service Hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector

A&E Attendances

2007-08

13,814

2008-09

4,021

2009-10

3,514

2010-11

3,341

Source:

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Notes:

1. A&E attendances

A&E Attendances in HES relates to the number of recorded attendances. A&E attendances do not represent the number of patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. HES A&E figures include planned follow-up attendances.

2. A&E diagnosis

A code that indicates the primary diagnosis for the A&E episode. Multiple diagnosis, investigation and treatment codes can be submitted within the dataset. The analysis contained within this report only looks at the first (or primary) diagnosis submitted. It also only uses the first two characters of this code rather than the six characters recorded. This is due to the fact that different recording schemes are in place at different A&E departments.

Note that A&E departments are able to use different recording schemes to capture diagnosis information; the information here is limited to those using the NHS defined A&E diagnosis scheme. Change over time may be due to departments changing the scheme under which they submit diagnosis information.

Note also that there are serious concerns about the data quality of diagnosis data, as many records submitted under the NHS A&E scheme do not match allowed values for this scheme.

NHS A&E Diagnosis code used:

11 - Electric shock

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3. Assessing change through time

HES A&E figures are available from 2007-08 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity and changes in NHS practice.

A&E data quality

Accident and Emergency Hospital Episode Statistics (A&E HES) are compiled from data submitted by more than 160 NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England. The NHS information centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain.

2007-08 was the first year of A&E HES collection; therefore, data quality could be poor. Diagnosis data can also be submitted under different recording schemes; the information presented was limited to those using the NHS defined A&E diagnosis scheme; change over time may be due to departments changing the scheme under which they submit diagnosis information.

Count of finished admission episodes (FAEs)1 with a primary diagnosis2 or external cause of electric shock3 for the years 2007-08 to 2010-114

Activity in English NHS Hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector

Finished Admission Episodes (FAEs)

2007-08

639

2008-09

673

2009-10

670

2010-11

626

Source:

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Health and Social Care Information Centre

Notes:

1. Finished admission episodes

A finished admission episode (FAE) is the first period of inpatient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FAEs are counted against the year in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of inpatients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.

2. Primary diagnosis

The primary diagnosis is the first of up to 20 (14 from 2002-03 to 2006-07 and 7 prior to 2002-03) diagnosis fields in the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data set and provides the main reason why the patient was admitted to hospital.

ICD-10 codes used:

T75.4 - Effects of Electric Current

3. Cause code

A supplementary code that indicates the nature of any external cause of injury, poisoning or other adverse effects. Only the first external cause code which is coded within the episode is counted in HES.

ICD-10 codes used:

W85 - Exposure to electric transmission lines

W86 - Exposure to other specified electric current

W87 - Exposure to unspecified electric current

4. Assessing growth through time

HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, apparent reductions in activity may be due to a number of procedures, which may now be undertaken in outpatient settings and so no longer included in admitted patient HES data.

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Data quality

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) are compiled from data sent by more than 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England and from some independent sector organisations for activity commissioned by the English NHS. The NHS information centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain.

2007-08 was the first year of A&E HES collection; therefore, data quality could be poor. Diagnosis data can also be submitted under different recording schemes; the information presented was limited to those using the NHS defined A&E diagnosis scheme; change over time may be due to departments changing the scheme under which they submit diagnosis information.

Number of deaths where “electrocution” was the secondary cause of death, England, 2007- 20101, 2, 3

YearDeaths

2007

41

2008

23

2009

43

2010

42

Source:

Office for National Statistics

Notes:

1. Underlying cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) where code T75.4 “Effects of electric current” was recorded as the secondary cause of death.

2. Figures exclude deaths of non-residents. Based on boundaries as at February 2012.

3. Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year.

Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS): medical staff in the psychiatry group of specialties by Strategic Health Authority

As at 30 September each yearheadcount
20102011

England

9,731

9,835

North East Strategic Health Authority area

596

611

North West Strategic Health Authority area

985

915

Yorkshire and the Humber Strategic Health Authority area

851

846

East Midlands Strategic Health Authority area

722

708

West Midlands Strategic Health Authority area

899

1,000

East of England Strategic Health Authority area

908

900

London Strategic Health Authority area

2,377

2,329

South East Coast Strategic Health Authority area

700

704

South Central Strategic Health Authority area

673

701

South West Strategic Health Authority area

857

833

Special Health Authorities and other statutory bodies

178

298

Notes:

1. Headcount totals are unlikely to equal the sum of components.

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2. The new headcount methodology from 2010 onwards is not fully comparable with previous years’ data due to improvements that make it a more stringent count of absolute staff numbers. Further information on the headcount methodology is available in the Census publication here: www.ic.nhs.uk/webfiles/publications/010_Workforce/nhsstaff0010/Census_Bulletin_March_2011_Final.pdf

3. Data Quality:

The Health and Social Care Information Centre seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data but responsibility for data accuracy lies with the organisations providing the data. Methods are continually being updated to improve data quality. Where changes impact on figures already published, this is assessed but unless it is significant at national level figures are not changed. Impact at detailed or local level is footnoted in relevant analyses.

Source:

Health and Social Care Information Centre Medical and Dental Workforce Census.

Fire Authorities: Charity Emblems

Question

Asked by Lord Rogan

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which, if any, fire authorities in the United Kingdom are instructing staff not to wear poppies or charity wristbands, including those for Help for Heroes.[HL50]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Fire and Rescue service is a devolved matter so I can only respond in respect of the fire and rescue authorities in England and my department does not hold such information centrally. This is a matter for the authorities themselves.

Notwithstanding this, unless there is a safety risk (eg wristbands causing a snag hazard whilst on firefighting duty), there is no reason why such instructions should be issued against discreet symbols.

The wearing of a poppy in particular is a long-standing practice by the uniformed services in the run up to Remembrance Sunday.

Health: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure that children with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) get effective access to diagnosis and treatment and are supported in their right to education in the light of the findings of Dr Esther Crawley that unidentified Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME is a major cause of school absence.[HL70]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a clinical guideline on the diagnosis and management of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyeltis (CFS/ME), which provides evidence-based recommendations offering a choice of care options

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tailored around an individual’s needs. Where appropriate, primary care trusts and clinicians are expected to follow this guideline.

The guideline addresses the diagnosis, treatment and management of CFS/ME in adults and in children aged five years and older, in primary and secondary care and in specialist centres and teams. The guideline is also relevant to the work of occupational health services, social services, educational services and the voluntary sector, although it does not make recommendations for them directly.

The introduction of health and well-being boards will bring together the National Health Service, social care, public health and children's services to ensure that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities receive the support they need. Additionally, the Children and Families Bill will include measures to improve provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether an equality impact assessment has been made of the cap on housing benefit and what the implications are for race relations and social cohesion when families are moved from established residential neighbourhoods to other parts of the country. [HL12]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): An equality impact assessment for the changes to local housing allowance arrangements, including the caps to rates, was published in July 2010. Taking all the measures together, this did not show a disproportionate impact on any one group. The department has commissioned an independent consortium of leading research organisations to evaluate the effects of the local housing allowance changes. The report of early findings is expected to be published in June.

NHS: Complaints

Question

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the anticipated cost of commissioning National Health Service independent complaints advisory services through local authorities, compared to the current cost of procuring the service centrally and to the total cost of the service.[HL16]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department anticipates spending a total of £11,714,846.40 in the financial year 2012-13 on the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service. The central contracts expire on 31 March 2013.

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The proposals for funding independent National Health Service complaints advisory services through local authorities were set out in the paper Consultation on Allocation Options for Distribution of Additional Funding to Local Authorities for Local Health Watch, NHS Complaints Advocacy, PCT Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, published by the department in August 2011. The final figure will be confirmed later this year.

Organophosphates

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment to publish the results of their recent review of organophosphates.[HL74]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) has not yet considered the peer-reviewed literature on organophosphates. It is envisaged that a draft discussion paper will be ready for the COT by August-October 2012. Following submission of this paper, the COT will then decide how it wants to conduct the review. A publication date for a COT statement has not yet been agreed.

Planning

Question

Asked by Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that local planning authorities continue to provide archaeological advice to planners and planning applicants; and how they expect such advice to be made available in local authorities such as Merseyside, Sandwell, Walsall, Portsmouth, Redcar and Cleveland, and Middlesbrough, whose planning authorities lack (or soon will lack) capacity to provide archaeological planning advice.[HL108]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that local planning authorities should have up-to-date evidence about the historic environment in their area and use it to assess the significance of heritage assets and the contribution they make to their environment. They should also use it to predict the likelihood that currently unidentified heritage assets, particularly sites of historic and archaeological interest, will be discovered in the future. Local planning authorities should either maintain or have access to a historic environment record. The National Planning Policy Framework must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans and is a material consideration in planning decisions. But it is for individual local planning authorities to decide how best to ensure they do so.

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Councils’ statutory planning functions are financed through formula grant, and services to planning applicants are also funded by income from planning application fees and optional pre-application advice on potential archaeological interest.

Shipping: General Lighthouse Authorities

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government (1) whether steps are being put in place to ensure the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) maintain the timetable to end the Irish lighthouse subsidy; (2) who will replace Sir Andrew Cubie as adviser on GLAs’ pensions; and (3) who will replace Chris Bourne when he ceases to be the chairman of the GLAs’ Joint Strategic Board in summer 2012.[HL53]

Earl Attlee: The British Government and the Government of Ireland remain committed to the stated 2015-16 timetable for the self-funding of the Commissioners of Irish Lights. How the work of the Commissioners of Irish Lights in the Republic of Ireland is funded is a matter for the Irish Government.

There is no specific post of adviser on General Lighthouse Authorities’ pensions to fill. The General Lighthouse Authorities will recommend a candidate for the post of the chair of the Joint Strategic Board for ministerial consideration shortly.

Shipping: Light Dues

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there will be reductions in the level of light dues in the medium to long term after the Irish lighthouse subsidy ends in 2015.[HL54]

Earl Attlee: The British Government remain committed to minimising the level of light dues. Ministers will decide the level at which to set light dues annually, after consultation with the Lights Advisory Committee and the General Lighthouse Authorities at the Lights Finance Committee.

Sudan and South Sudan

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made representations to the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan following from tensions over ownership of bordering oil fields.[HL78]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Alongside our international partners, we have continued to make clear to the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan

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that any disputes over the location of the border and the management of oil revenues should be resolved through negotiation, not through military activity. We urge both countries to comply fully with the roadmap set out by the African Union Peace and Security Council in its communiqué on 24 April and subsequently endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Steel of Aikwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will discuss with the UK Border Agency the timely delivery of visas to members of the Taipei Representative Office in the United Kingdom, including

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their Director-General in Edinburgh, in order to enable them to carry out their duties in a satisfactory manner, and to ensure that their treatment meets the reciprocal standard enjoyed by United Kingdom officers in Taiwan.[HL85]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The UK Border Agency is committed to delivering the highest standards in customer service. It aims to provide an efficient, timely, appropriate and courteous service for applicants seeking to come to and to remain in the UK, in line with best practice and published customer service standards, which differ according to application type.

Her Majesty's Government value the important UK-Taiwan relationship and the role played by the Taiwan Representative Office in promoting trade, investment and cultural links.