§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the contribution which(a) specialist stroke units and (b) conventional wards are making to the treatment of stroke sufferers. 
§ Yvette Cooper
In October, the Royal College of Physicians published a report arising from the National Sentinel Audit of Stroke 1998, "Regional variations in stroke care". The Department, as part of the clinical effectiveness programme, funded this programme.
The New National Health Service and a First Class Service introduced a range of measures to raise quality and decrease unacceptable variations in service including the National Service Frameworks (NSFs). The NSF for 189W older people was announced last year. A number of task groups are supporting the External Reference Group for this NSF and one of these is looking at strokes. The NSF will be evidence based, and where this is not possible it will be based on the consensus of best clinical practice. Findings from the National Sentinel Audit have been made available to the External Reference Group on strokes.