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​Written Assembly Questions tabled on 26 January 2017 for answer on 2 February 2017

R - Signifies the Member has declared an interest.
W - Signifies that the question was tabled in Welsh.

(Self-identifying question no. shown in brackets)

Written Questions must be tabled at least five working days before they are to be answered. In practice, Ministers aim to answer within seven/eight days but are not bound to do so. Answers are published in the language in which they are provided, with a translation into English of responses provided in Welsh.

 

To ask the First Minister

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): How many staff have been suspended by Welsh Government during the last 5 years; what were the reasons for the suspensions; how long were the suspensions in place and what were the associated salary costs over the period of suspension (including pension and national insurance contributions)? (WAQ71974)

Answer received on 31 January 2017

First Minister (Carwyn Jones): Staffing matters within the Welsh Government are the responsibility of the Permanent Secretary. I have asked the Permanent Secretary to write to you separately with the information you have requested. 
 
To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Will the Cabinet Secretary comment on the contracts that patients around the UK have signed ahead of receiving Orkambi on compassionate use, that protect hospital trusts from any liability should Vertex withdraw this programme; and whether or not such contracts could be used in Wales? (WAQ71951)

Answer received on 1 February 2017

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport (Vaughan Gething): Lumacaftor/ivacaftor (Orkambi®) was not recommended for routine use in the NHS in England, Wales and Scotland by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium.  In December, NICE re-issued their Technology Appraisal guidance under their   “Do Not Do” guidance, emphasising this treatment should not be made routinely available. 

Both appraisal bodies were unable to recommend it due to the very high cost charged by the manufacturer and the uncertainties of the longer term benefits of this treatment.    

Compassionate use programmes are normally used for access to a medicine that has yet to be licensed; for example continued access for patients who have participated in a clinical trial pending licensing and health technology appraisal. 

NHS England have confirmed they have not entered into a compassionate use agreement with Vertex for Lumacaftor/ivacaftor (Orkambi®) in the treatment of cystic fibrosis; nor is the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) aware of any agreement between Vertex and NHS Scotland. 

WHSSC are unaware of any contracts between individual patients and Vertex.

  
Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Will the Cabinet Secretary comment on whether or not Orkambi manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals has guaranteed that the compassionate use programme will not be withdrawn until negotiations around reimbursement are concluded to the satisfaction of all parties? (WAQ71952)

 

Answer received on 1 February 2017

Vaughan Gething: The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee has advised there is no compassionate use programme in Wales. 

Lumacaftor/ivacaftor (Orkambi®) was not recommended for routine use in the NHS in England, Wales and Scotland by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium.  In December, NICE re-issued their Technology Appraisal guidance under their   "Do Not Do" guidance, emphasising this treatment should not be made routinely available. 

Both appraisal bodies were unable to recommend it due to the very high cost charged by the manufacturer and the uncertainties of the longer term benefits of this treatment.   

Compassionate use programmes are normally used for access to a medicine that has yet to be licensed; for example continued access for patients who have participated in a clinical trial pending licensing and health technology appraisal. 

NHS England have confirmed they have not entered into a compassionate use agreement with Vertex for Lumacaftor/ivacaftor (Orkambi®) in the treatment of cystic fibrosis; nor is the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) aware of any agreement between Vertex and NHS Scotland.  
 

Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Is the Cabinet Secretary willing to meet with clinicians and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to discuss the guarantees that both parties have developed that safeguard the Welsh Government and the Welsh NHS from any liability related to the compassionate use programme? (WAQ71953)

 

Answer received on 9 February 2017

Vaughan Gething: I will write to you and a copy of the letter will be put on the internet.

 
Andrew RT Davies (South Wales Central): Will the Cabinet Secretary comment on the reasons why the Welsh Government is the only nation in the UK denying clinicians the chance to prescribe the potentially life-saving cystic fibrosis treatment Orkambi to critically ill patients at no cost as part of the compassionate use programme? (WAQ71954)

Answer received on 1 February 2017

Vaughan Gething: Lumacaftor/ivacaftor (Orkambi®) is not available across the UK either through routine access or on a compassionate use basis.  NHS England have confirmed they have not entered into a compassionate use agreement with Vertex, the manufacturer of Orkambi® in the treatment of cystic fibrosis; nor is the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) aware of any agreement between Vertex and NHS Scotland. 

This medicine was not recommended for routine use in the NHS in England, Wales or Scotland by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). 

In December, NICE re-issued their Technology Appraisal guidance under their   “Do Not Do” guidance, emphasising this treatment should not be made routinely available. 

The NICE appraisal committee identified Orkambi® offered an option for the management of cystic fibrosis with the potential to ease the treatment burden.  However, both NICE and the SMC were unable to recommend it due to the very high costs charged by the manufacturer and the uncertainties of the longer term benefits of this treatment.   

Compassionate use programmes are normally used for access to a medicine that has yet to be licensed; for example continued access for patients who have participated in a clinical trial pending licensing and health technology appraisal. 

 

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Cabinet Secretary outline what steps are being taken to increase cervical screening coverage? (WAQ71955)

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Cabinet Secretary outline what plans the Welsh Government has to support Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which takes place from 22nd to 28th January? (WAQ71956)

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on what discussions have taken place about plans to increase cervical screening coverage amongst women from disadvantaged backgrounds? (WAQ71957)

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Cabinet Secretary outline what steps are being taken to improve cervical screening coverage among women with learning disabilities? (WAQ71958)

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Cabinet Secretary outline what steps are being taken to improve cervical screening coverage among black and minority ethnic women? (WAQ71959)

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Cabinet Secretary outline what steps are being taken to make cervical screening more accessible, in order to increase coverage? (WAQ71960)

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on whether the Welsh Government plans to roll-out an awareness campaign to improve cervical screening coverage? (WAQ71962)

Answer received on 1 February 2017
 

Minister for Social Services and Public Health (Rebecca Evans)

Nearly eight out of ten women (77.88%) in Wales attend regularly for their smear and Wales has the highest participation rates in the UK.

We know that coverage in general is falling across the UK nations and there is work to do to maintain and improve participation rates. I was happy to support Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s awareness raising campaign during the recent Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

Public Health Wales’ screening engagement team raise awareness of screening and promote informed choice. The team works with health boards and primary care clusters to consider cervical screening uptake in each region and to plan specific activities to improve uptake, including social media activity.

There are no current plans to establish an awareness campaign specifically to improve cervical screening coverage. The team already raise awareness of all national screening programmes through the annual Screening for Life campaign and it has targeted efforts working with groups and communities where uptake is low. This includes engagement work with Communities First and other community groups.

For women with learning disabilities, targeted work includes easy read resources describing the process of going for a smear test, and the Pink Ladies Project, which is aimed at empowering women with learning difficulties to make informed choices about taking part in screening.  

In respect of women from black and ethnic minorities, the team work with community groups and community champions who are empowered and trained to raise awareness of cervical screening amongst their peers. A specific project has been established working with women’s groups in mosques across Wales.

The team constantly review and update its public information including ways of making screening more accessible for people, for instance, with visual impairment or lower levels of literacy, working closely with organisations such as Learning Disability Wales and Sight Cymru.

 

The range of work undertaken by the team is covered in the Public Health Wales Screening Division’s annual report. This report can be found on the Screening for Life website: http://www.screeningforlife.wales.nhs.uk/annual-report

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): Will the Cabinet Secretary confirm whether cervical screening is available to all women at contraception and sexual health clinics? (WAQ71961)

 

Answer received on 1 February 2017 

Rebecca Evans: Most cervical screening is carried out at GP surgeries, often by the practice nurse. Cervical screening is also available for women between the recommended age range (25-64) at a number of sexual health clinics in Wales. A list of the clinics that offer this service is available on Cervical Screening Wales' website at www.cervicalscreeningwales.wales.nhs. If a woman of any age has symptoms of pain or bleeding then she should first consult her GP for investigation.


Darren Millar (Clwyd West): How many staff have been suspended by each of the Local Health Boards in Wales during the last 5 years; what were the reasons for the suspensions; how long were the suspensions in place and what were the associated salary costs over the period of suspension (including pension and national insurance contributions)? (WAQ71973)

Answer received on 1 February 2017

Vaughan Gething: Welsh Government does not collect this detailed information centrally.  It is an employment matter for the Local Health Boards to manage using established all Wales procedures and employment law.  It is the responsibility of employers to deal with all suspensions as expeditiously as possible, following due process to ensure fairness to all parties concerned.

 

To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs

Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD)? (WAQ71963)

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs (Lesley Griffiths): Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is not a notifiable disease and responsibility for developing approaches to tackle and control the disease rests with industry. 
 
Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Further to WAQ71860, will the Cabinet Secretary outline what support the Welsh Government offers to small businesses wishing to submit applications to the Timber Business Investment Scheme? (WAQ71964)

Answer received on 1 February 2017

Lesley Griffiths:
Round 2 opened for Expressions of Interest on 1 February.

Full details in respect of the Timber Business Investment Scheme are available on the Welsh Government website. There is also a link to Frequently Asked Questions. These published documents provide a wealth of information in respect of eligibility and the aims and purpose of the Scheme.

Here is the weblink for further information:

http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/farmingandcountryside/cap/ruraldevelopment/wales-rural-development-programme-2014-2020/timber-business-investment-scheme/?lang=en

Further advice can also be sought from Farming Connect. Details can be found at the following weblink: www.gov.wales/farmingconnect.
 
In addition, the Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor) may be able to offer further advice regarding the technical elements of a proposal. Details of ConFor can be found at the following weblink: http://www.confor.org.uk/about-confor/our-team/national-managers/  
 
There are also professional forestry consultants and agents who applicants can contact for further advice.
 

Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Further to WAQ71860, will the Cabinet Secretary provide more details about the privately funded planting schemes taking place across Wales? (WAQ71965)

Answer received on 1 February 2017

Lesley Griffiths: The Welsh Government does not collect details of privately funded planting schemes. The Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor) may be able to provide guidance in this respect.


Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Further to WAQ71861, will the Cabinet Secretary provide an update on the latest work of the Wales Tree and Plant Health Surveillance Group? (WAQ71966)

Answer to follow.
 
Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the Welsh Government's position in relation to the selling of animal furs in Wales? (WAQ71967)

Answer received on 9 February 2017

Lesley Griffiths: Fur Farming was banned by the UK Government in England and Wales on ethical grounds in 2000. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulates the import, re-export, sale or movement of endangered wild animals or their parts and aims to ensure international trade in wild animals species does not threaten their survival.
 
Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Further to WAQ71861, how often does the Wales Tree and Plant Health Surveillance Group meet and when does the Cabinet Secretary plan to meet with them next? (WAQ71969)

Answer to follow.

Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Further to WAQ71861, what is the Cabinet Secretary's assessment of the 'Keep it Clean' campaign by the NRW Plant Health team? (WAQ71970)

Answer received on 9 February 2017

Lesley Griffiths: During 2016 Natural Resources for Wales (NRW) held a campaign 'Keep it Clean'. The Keep it Clean campaign raised the importance of the role we all play in protecting our forests and the natural environment. NRW are currently reviewing their communication plan for 2017/2018.

Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Will the Cabinet Secretary bring forward any legislation in relation to the Environment and Rural Affairs portfolio in the next twelve months? (WAQ71971)

Answer received on 9 February 2017

Lesley Griffiths: No primary legislation will be brought forward under my portfolio during the first year of the Welsh Government’s legislative programme.

Paul Davies (Preseli Pembrokeshire): Will the Cabinet Secretary make a statement on the Welsh Government's policies for intertidal fisheries? (WAQ71972)

Answer received on 9 February 2017

Lesley Griffiths: The harvesting of shellfish takes place at a number of intertidal locations around the Welsh coast.  The main shellfish species of commercial interest in intertidal fisheries are cockles and mussels, the harvesting of which takes place at different times during the year depending on the location.

The vast majority of these harvesting beds are either in, or adjacent to, sites designated as being environmentally sensitive.  As a result, a number of regulations designed to protect flora, fauna and shellfish have to be considered prior to the opening of these fisheries through a Habitats Regulation Assessment.

In order to strengthen and improve the current management regime for cockle fisheries in Wales I am considering the introduction of a new Statutory Instrument (SI) to replace existing legislation for the management of these fisheries.  The new SI will cover areas such as the introduction of a limited permit scheme, compulsory catch returns, increased penalties for non-compliance and strengthening "fit and proper persons" verification checks for applicants.  The outcome of the revisions will increase sustainability of cockle fisheries and modernise the management regime.

My department has hosted a number of workshops around Wales this month to seek views from gatherers on draft proposals for an improved management regime.  Further sessions are being arranged with Local Authorities and processors during February and March.  We are committed to providing opportunities to discuss the proposals for improvement to take account of stakeholder views prior to final decisions on the proposed legislation.
 

To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government

Darren Millar (Clwyd West): How many staff have been suspended by each of the Local Authorities in Wales during the last 5 years; what were the reasons for the suspensions; how long were the suspensions in place and what were the associated salary costs over the period of suspension (including pension and national insurance contributions)? (WAQ71975)

Answer received on 1 February 2017

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government (Mark Drakeford): The information you requested is not held centrally.  This is a matter for individual local authorities as employers.

To ask the Cabinet Secretary for Education

Llyr Gruffydd (North Wales): Will the Cabinet Secretary provide the number of students enrolled in sixth forms at the beginning of January, May and September for each year since 2011, by local authority? (WAQ71968)

Answer received on 31 January 2017

Cabinet Secretary for Education (Kirsty Williams):
  

Table 1: Number of pupils enrolled in years 12, 13 & 14 in Secondary and Middle schools, as at January, 2011-16 (a)
. = Not applicable
Year as at January
LEALocal Authority201120122013201420152016
660Isle of Anglesey702671654709660603
661Gwynedd719743696716788803
662Conwy1,2571,3391,3541,3501,3381,246
663Denbighshire1,1311,1811,1241,1291,0731,052
664Flintshire1,6411,7071,6581,6631,6111,503
665Wrexham431384384325330357
666Powys1,3831,3661,3931,3321,2521,184
667Ceredigion969968900945997946
668Pembrokeshire1,2881,2591,2901,3481,2731,079
669Carmarthenshire1,6631,6371,6471,6621,6011,500
670Swansea1,5121,4971,4971,5561,5591,556
671Neath Port Talbot373436387387407387
672Bridgend1,6891,6111,5841,8431,8511,745
673Vale of Glamorgan1,8151,8321,7931,7581,7891,733
674Rhondda Cynon Taf3,3423,1843,1113,2023,0322,881
675Merthyr Tydfil (b)623611541197..
676Caerphilly1,4601,3941,2991,3511,3761,204
677Blaenau Gwent (c)479411145...
678Torfaen1,2561,1891,0751,1471,067939
679Monmouthshire9989851,036998926875
680Newport1,9631,9952,0002,0132,0871,915
681Cardiff3,2013,2183,1373,1523,2293,275
 Wales29,89529,61828,70528,78328,24626,783
Source: School Census, 2011-16
(a)  Figures relate to the position on January census day of each year, i.e. the second Tuesday in January.
(b)No secondary or middle schools with sixth form provision in Merthyr Tydfil from 2015.
(c)No secondary or middle schools with sixth form provision in Blaenau Gwent from 2014.
Table 2: Number of pupils enrolled in years 12, 13 & 14 in Secondary and Middle schools, as at September, 2010-12 (a) (b)
Year as at September
LEALocal Authority201020112012
660Isle of Anglesey713685661
661Gwynedd729748698
662Conwy1,2881,3701,390
663Denbighshire1,1691,2031,144
664Flintshire1,6771,7181,676
665Wrexham445394395
666Powys1,4051,3921,412
667Ceredigion1,000991917
668Pembrokeshire1,3241,2791,302
669Carmarthenshire1,6851,676975
670Swansea1,5411,5471,381
671Neath Port Talbot376448400
672Bridgend1,7311,6711,623
673Vale of Glamorgan1,8541,8861,813
674Rhondda Cynon Taf3,4283,2933,195
675Merthyr Tydfil647646558
676Caerphilly1,5211,4391,331
677Blaenau Gwent500416146
678Torfaen1,2951,247829
679Monmouthshire1,0371,0171,076
680Newport2,0112,0781,724
681Cardiff3,2703,2903,222
 Wales30,64630,43427,868
Source: Post-16 PLASC, 2010-12
  1. Figures relate to the position on September census day of each year, i.e. the third or fourth Tuesday in September.
  2. From 2013 onwards, the Post-16 PLASC collected data of pupils in years 12, 13 & 14 on the basis of the whole previous academic year, rather than the position on census day in September. For example, the September 2014 census collected data for the whole of the preceding 2013/14 academic year, regardless of when or for how long a pupil was on roll at the school. Therefore, data for 2013 onwards is not shown as it does not relate to the position on a single census day in September and is not comparable with data based on a January/September census day.


 

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