HC Deb 17 December 2001 vol 377 cc164-5W
Mrs. Ellman

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 28 November 2001, which single north-west regional centre for cleft lip and palate services the clinical implementation group recommended to Ministers in accordance with the Clinical Standards Advisory group standards. [20411]

Jacqui Smith

[holding answer 4 December 2001]: Proposals were submitted by the two regional tertiary paediatric trusts in the north-west, which reflected a service model based on one single regional centre providing all primary surgery to children with cleft lip and palate. A cleft review panel considered these proposals and recommended that the Royal Liverpool Children's Trust should go forward as the preferred option in the consultation document.

However, Ministers sought reassurance as to whether the proposed single site options to be consulted upon would provide the best quality service. Further work is currently being undertaken which is exploring the possible merits of a twin-site centre and whether this could offer greater potential for maximising access to skills and attracting applications from a range of high quality technicians.

Positive discussions are now progressing between the two trusts in Liverpool and Manchester and it is anticipated that as a result of these joint discussions a number of options, together with a clear recommendation, will go to public consultation in January 2002.