§ 27. Dr. Kim Howells
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many scheduled surgical operations to infants under the age of three years have been cancelled for the remaining weeks of the present financial year.
§ Mr. Dorrell
Information collected centrally refers to cancelled operating sessions, not operations, and does not distinguish the age of the patient. Information for 1989–90, the latest available, is published in, "NHS operating theatres availability and use in England—financial year 1989–90", a copy of which is available in the Library.
§ 29. Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government are taking to prepare for the implementation of the Children Act 1989.
§ Mr. Dorrell
A number of documents have already been issued to local authorities including "An Introduction to the Children Act", a training curriculum produced by the London Boroughs Training Committee, and "The Care of Children—Principles and Practice in Regulations and Guidance", copies of which are available in the Library.
The first phase of a wide-ranging consultation exercise on the guidance and regulations required under the Act ended last year. Some 21 draft papers were sent out for comment to a great variety of statutory and voluntary organisations; the response which we received from the field to these drafts was both helpful and encouraging, and the comments were fed into the final drafting of the guidance. The consultation exercise has culminated in the issue of guidance on court orders, one in an initial series of five volumes of guidance and regulations. Some 20,000 copies of this guidance will be distributed free of charge this week. Other volumes will follow shortly.
We have commissioned several projects to provide training in the fields of child care and child protection in advance of implementation on 14 October 1991. Some projects are complete, and the material has been disseminated to the target audiences; others are nearing completion. The projects commissioned will provide professionals and others with a broad understanding and initial awareness of the Act or specialised training in specific aspects of the Act. We are confident that most projects will be completed before October 1991, and staff responsible for working with the Act will receive training in advance of implementation.
We recently announced the provision of an additional £250,000 to assist voluntary organisations in the provision of training for the Act. This money will be administered by the National Council for Voluntary Child Care organisations. In addition, further training projects will be commissioned from April this year, to address areas not covered in the first phase of training. This will include material for guardians ad litem, and on the provisions of the Act relating to children leaving care.