19.4.02

Questions to the Minister for Health 19.4.02

Services Available to ME Sufferers in Delyn

 

Alison Halford:

Will the Minister make a statement on the services available to myalgic encephalomyelitis sufferers in Delyn and how the funding of such services is determined? (WAQ17134)

Jane Hutt:

North Wales Health Authority runs a chronic fatigue support service with the aim of providing patients with information and skills designed to improve their quality of life. Two multidisciplinary teams consisting of a physiotherapist, dietician, clinical psychologist and a GP are based in Connah’s Quay and Caernarfon.The provision of all health services, including those for chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis is at present the responsibility of local health authorities. It is for them to determine the level of services, after weighing up the many pressing needs in the area. These are not easy decisions to make, but the authorities, with their local knowledge, are best placed to prioritise the services that people need in their area. We would expect the health authority to work with its partners to plan and prioritise their service to meet the needs of the local population.
 

Specialist Care for Autism Sufferers and their Families


Alison Halford:

What plans are there to increase the availability of local specialist care for autism sufferers and their families in Delyn and north Wales? (WAQ17135)

Jane Hutt:

Specialist care for autism sufferers and their families is provided across a whole range of services. For example, the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning is considering the model of regional provision for special educational needs and has already made up to £2 million available for the development of Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn as a north Wales regional centre for autism. Jane Davidson has also established an all-Wales steering group, which will assist in the strategic planning of such services across Wales. It will clearly be interested in considering the experiences and processes undertaken in this development and how this model might be replicated elsewhere in Wales.
Local health authorities assess the health service needs of the local area and, working with NHS trusts, local health groups, the voluntary sector and others, plan and prioritise their health service through their health improvement programmes to meet that need within the resources available.
The Health Act 1999 establishes a new system in the NHS based on partnership and co-operation and opened up opportunities to voluntary organisations for further involvement in the planning and provision of services for local areas. I would encourage all voluntary organisations, patients, carers and their families to use the opportunities we have put in place and make the responsible bodies aware of any issues affecting people with autism.
 

Number of Speech Therapists and Educational Psychologists in Wales

Alison Halford:

What arrangements are being made in co-operation with the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning to increase the number of speech therapists and educational psychologists in Wales? (WAQ17136)

Jane Hutt:

The provision of speech and language therapists and the apparent anomalies that exist in the funding, and prime and ultimate responsibilities for delivering this provision, are matters of concern for both myself and the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning.
At the time of writing, the therapies working group, a sub-group of the Wales advisory group on special educational needs, is due to make a presentation of its recommendations to the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning and myself in a bilateral meeting on 24 April.
For the first time, the current grants for education support and training programme has made available funds for local education authorities that are earmarked for the provision of speech and language therapy services.
The Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning has established an all-Wales steering group to audit and consider provision for special educational needs. The steering group will work with education and health professionals in taking forward the therapies working group recommendations.
As to the provision of educational psychologists, this is a matter for the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning. I understand that a review of educational psychology services in Wales is currently underway and is due to report in the early summer of 2002.
 

Open Access Play Projects

Alison Halford:

What action is the Minister taking to ensure that the funding for open access play projects is directed toward the projects originally intended? (WAQ17137)

Jane Hutt:

Proposals for the use of the children and youth partnership fund for open access play are drawn up by local partnerships in their plans. The Welsh Assembly Government looks to the Audit Commission to ensure that expenditure is in line with approved plans.
 

Tonsil Operations

 

Alison Halford:

What immediate action is the Minister taking to give those still waiting for tonsil operations a viable alternative if their local trust is not currently able or willing to operate on them due to an inability to use either single use or reusable instruments? (WAQ17201)

Jane Hutt:

Immediate action in relation to tonsillectomies is appropriate in an emergency situation. This is a matter of clinical judgment by the attending surgeon. The common indication for tonsillectomy is chronic infection and for the non-emergency situation, use of antibiotics to suppress infection has a role. Where a surgeon deems the situation to be of sufficient urgency, tonsillectomy with single use instruments may be undertaken. If the surgeon is unable to select suitable quality single use instruments that meet his or her criteria, then new reusables may be used on one occasion and then quarantined until the final outcome of the audit being considered by the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Association of Otorhinolaryngologists is available.
This is primarily an issue for clinicians and surgeons, who are best placed to balance these types of clinical risks. I am aware that tonsillectomy operations are being undertaken, using single use instruments, by some trusts in Wales.
Referral of patients to trusts that are undertaking tonsillectomy operations is a clinical option, but this will have to be considered in the light of existing waiting list pressures at that site.
 

Organisation for Epileptics

 

Alison Halford:

 What action is the Minister taking to ensure that epileptics continue to have an organisation to provide them with a strong voice throughout Wales? (WAQ17202)

Jane Hutt:

I recognise the important role of the voluntary sector in providing services for people with epilepsy. However, a regular funding stream for any voluntary organisation can only come from commissioning bodies, which must be persuaded that the services provided should be purchased for their areas.
It is not sound practice to seek to develop services on the basis of short-term lottery funding without a strategy to ensure continuity of provision when lottery funding ceases.
 

Cancer Care in Wales

 

Alison Halford:

Is the Minister confident that the extra funding she has announced for cancer care in Wales is being spent on service delivery and improvement, particularly in north Wales? (WAQ17203)

Jane Hutt:

Last year, I announced that an additional £1 million recurrent revenue for cancer and £3.5 million capital for cancer and coronary heart disease would be made available to assist trusts and health authorities in meeting the cancer services co-ordinating group’s standards for cancer care.The allocation of this funding has been carefully monitored to ensure that it is utilised for its intended purpose. The revenue last year provided £135,000 to fund the first six month running costs of the newly established cancer networks and £100,000 to provide funding for a three-year project manager for the cancer information framework. The remaining £765,000 was allocated on a capitation share basis between the five health authorities, with North Wales Health Authority receiving £175,360. The authority was required to inform the Welsh Assembly Government where this funding would be utilised, and has confirmed that it has been appropriately targeted at initiatives that will both provide equipment and staff that will help work towards the Authority meeting the CSCG’s standards for cancer care.Of the £3.5 million capital available for cancer and coronary heart disease, £1.3 million was allocated to schemes that would improve the quality of care for cancer patients. In north Wales, funding was provided for a static MRI centre at a cost of £392,700. The additional capital for these two Assembly health priorities will increase to £5 million this year and a further £5 million will be available in 2003-04.
In addition to this funding, in July 2000, I announced a further recurrent £25 million for the Assembly’s health priorities, including cancer, which for 2002-03 has risen to £26.75 million. Of this, in 2000-01 North Wales Health Authority allocated £1.029 million for cancer services and in 2001-02, this rose to £2.09 million. The funding has enabled four additional cancer specialist appointments across the authority and has provided a pharmacist in North West Wales NHS Trust, with a palliative care consultant in Conwy and Denbighshire NHS Trust. 

 

Reducing the Rate of Teenage Conception in North Wales

 

Alison Halford:

What action is the Minister taking to reduce the teenage conception rate in north Wales? (WAQ17204)

Jane Hutt:

One of the key objectives of the strategic framework for promoting sexual health in Wales is to reduce the teenage conception rate throughout Wales. Recent action that impacts on north Wales includes:
new money for investment in sexual health. North Wales Health Authority was allocated £125,000 in 2001, which is being used to implement a community education project and to improve genito-urinary medicine services. This reflects the priorities in the local sexual health strategies developed by North Wales Health Authority and local health groups in response to the Assembly’s sexual health strategy action plan.a condom distribution grant scheme which provides funding for local health groups to make free condoms more accessible to those at greatest risk from teenage pregnancy. Successful applications from throughout Wales will be announced shortly.
new guidance on sex and relationships education is to be issued this summer by the Assembly’s training and education department.new guidance on best practice for young people’s contraception and advice services was issued throughout Wales in June 2001.

 


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