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30. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on orthopaedic waiting times. 
Mr. Hutton: We are is determined to reduce waiting times for orthopaedic patients. That is why we have established the "Action On Orthopaedics" programme as part of the modernisation of the national health service. The programme aims significantly to improve access to care and to reduce variations in waiting times through sharing best practice. It will lead the way in piloting new and innovative working practice.
In 200001, £9 million was made available directly to NHS practitioners to invest in specialist orthopaedic equipment. In 200102 a further £38.5 million was made available. Through this year's investment 23 new orthopaedic theatres will be built to create greater capacity to treat orthopaedic patients, which will facilitate reduced waiting times.
Waiting times for all patients are being reduced. In line with the NHS Plan, the maximum out-patient waiting time will be cut to three months by 2005 and the maximum in-patient waiting time will be cut to six months.
As a first step towards this, the maximum waiting time for an in-patient appointment will be 15 months by the end of March 2002 and the maximum waiting time for a first out-patient appointment will be six months.
33. Mr. Illsley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on long-term stay patients at Ashworth hospital. 
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Jacqui Smith: Our policy with regard to the provision of high-security psychiatric services is to secure the safety of the public, staff and patients, and to ensure that the best possible services are offered to patients who need to receive their care and treatment in a high-secure setting.
35. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he last had discussions with the Secretary of State for Education and Skills about the health of school children. 
Jacqui Smith: We have regular discussions and our respective Departments work very closely to ensure that the health needs of school children are met. We have also launched a number of joint initiatives including the healthy schools programme. Apart from supporting children with health problems we are committed to ensuring the promotion of child health and development through access to high quality physical education. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced in January that all children will be entitled to a minimum of two hours high quality physical education and sport provision within and beyond the formal curriculum. This commitment is also outlined in the White Paper "Schools: Achieving Success" published in September.
36. Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what needs he has recently identified for a further cardio-thoracic surgical unit in the east of England. 
Jacqui Smith: We are currently developing a national strategy for expanding revascularisation capacity, the aim of which is to deliver the targets of the coronary heart disease National Service Framework.
As part of that strategy the national health service eastern regional office has undertaken an assessment of its needs for cardiac surgery over the next 20 years and has taken many factors into account including the current and future population demands for such services.
The assessment has clearly identified the need for the development of further services for cardiac surgery.
37. John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the number of (a) general and (b) acute beds in NHS hospitals. 
Ms Blears: In the light of the National Beds Inquiry the NHS Plan set a target to increase the number of general and acute beds by 2,100 by 2004. Latest figures, published in September 2001, show that we are a third of the way towards reaching this target with an increase of over 700 in the number of general and acute care beds in the last year. The number of general and acute beds in national health service hospitals had been declining over the past 40 years. This is a clear indication that the downward trend is being reversed.
For three decades the prevailing orthodoxy in the NHS has been for fewer hospital beds rather than more. Patients see the consequence of that failed policy in unacceptable
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trolley waits, long waiting times and cancelled operations. Today the NHS is growing again with an expanding number of NHS hospital beds.
23. Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about Barnet hospital. 
Mr. Hutton: I am aware of and share my hon. Friend's concerns over Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust and the need to support improvements in its performance in key areas highlighted by the recent NHS Trust Performance Ratings.
The Trust has formally been given three months from 25 September to produce an action plan focused on areas of poor performance and will receive close support from the Modernisation Agency.
I have already arranged to meet my hon. Friend to discuss these matters.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people were admitted to psychiatric hospitals in 200001. 
Jacqui Smith: There were an estimated 187,600 admissions, under mental illness specialties, to national health service hospitals in England for 19992000, the latest year for which data are available. This figure has not yet been adjusted for shortfalls in data and therefore has a provisional status.
Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients in Shropshire were registered with a NHS dentist in (a) 1990, (b) 1997 and (c) 2000; and how many remained unregistered in the same year. 
Ms Blears: Registrations of patients in the general dental service (GDS) began in October 1990. Registrations last for a fixed period which is renewed when the patient reattends the dentist. Initially the period for adults was 24 months while for children registrations lasted until the end of the following calendar year.
For new registrations made since September 1996, the registration period is 15 months for both adults and children. This affected registration numbers from December 1997 onwards when the first of the shorter registrations lapsed.
Registration numbers built up over the two years from October 1990. Thus registration figures for 1990 are not typical.
For Shropshire health authority, in the year 1997, the average number of registrations was 217,000 compared to an estimated population at mid-year 1997 of 425,000. In the year 2000, the registration average was lower at 186,000 because of the reduction in the registration period to 15 months. In addition, in the year 2000, 8,000 patients were seen by the personal dental service pilots which started in March 1999. The estimated population at mid-year 2000 was 436,000.
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Many people are not registered with the dentist but choose to attend occasionally.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are the (a) parliamentary constituencies and (b) NHS health trusts in which there are no NHS dentists taking new adult NHS patients; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Blears: General dental practitioners provide general dental services under arrangements made with health authorities. Some national health service trusts are commissioned to provide national health service dentistry but these services are a minority of what is provided within the NHS. While information on availability of NHS dentistry is not collected on a parliamentary constituency basis, every health authority in England has NHS general dental practitioners willing to treat new adult NHS patients.
We remain committed to ensuring that NHS dentistry is available to all. More treatment than ever before is being carried out by NHS dentists. Systems are in place to enable callers to NHS Direct to obtain information about where they can find NHS dentistry. We will continue to work with the profession to further develop NHS dentistry around patient needs, as part of modern primary care delivered at a local level.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS dental practitioners there were on the Isle of Wight in each year since 1997. 
Ms Blears: The number of general dental services (GDS) dentists on the Isle of Wight is shown in the table for 30 June in each of the years 1997 to 2001.
|June||Number of GDS dentists|
A personal dental service (PDS) pilot, developing new ways of providing national health service dentistry, began in 1999. There were six dentists in June 2000 while in June 2001 there were eight PDS dentists of whom two also worked in the GDS.
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