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30 Oct 2002 : Column 825Wcontinued
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to announce his funding plans for the ACHCEW for the remainder of its term. 
Mr. Lammy: The date of abolition for the Association of Community Health Councils of England and Wales (ACHCEW) is yet to be determined. Officials will be discussing with ACHCEW the best way of funding the remainder of its term once that decision has been made.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact on the ability of (a) community health councils and (b) the ACHCEW to retain staff of (i) the absence of a date for abolition, (ii) the decision not to allow community health council staff to transfer to the successor bodies and (iii) the absence of committed funding for the remainder of their term of employment. 
Mr. Lammy: The Department is aware of the concerns of Community Health Councils (CHCs) following the announcement that they are to be abolished. There will be no automatic transfers into the new Commission either for CHC or Association of Community Health Councils of England and Wales (ACHCEW) staff. The Commission is independent and fundamentally different from CHCs. As such it must be free to make its own decisions on staffing. Officials are
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working with trade unions to agree a human resources framework to support CHC staff in seeking suitable alternative employment. Progress is being reported through newsletters to CHC staff. CHCs will be abolished once the new system is functioning. The date of abolition for CHCs and ACHCEW has yet to be decided but we will make an announcement as soon as a date has been set. In the meantime the 184 CHCs continue to function and will be funded until their abolition.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what timetable has been set for the winding up of (a) community health councils and (b) the ACHCEW. 
Mr. Lammy: Community health councils (CHCs) will be abolished once the new arrangements for patient and public involvement are functioning. There is no abolition date for CHCs or the Association of Community Health Councils of England and Wales as yet, but we will make an announcement as soon as a date is set.
Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when Community Health Councils will be abolished; and what support is being given to staff of CHCs in the transition to new arrangements. 
Mr. Lammy: Community Health Councils (CHCs) will be abolished once the new arrangements for patient and public involvement are functioning. There is no abolition date for CHCs or Association of Community Health Councils of England and Wales as yet, but we will make an announcement as soon as a date is set. Officials are working with trade unions to agree a human resources framework to support CHC staff in seeking suitable alternative employment.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to reduce the complexity of the forms issued by the Health Benefits Division to be completed by students when reclaiming the cost of dental care; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Lammy: The HC1 claim form has been carefully designed to collect all the information necessary from all groups, including students, to carry out a calculation of their entitlement to help with health costs, based on income support arrangements. People only need to complete the sections of the form which apply to them.
Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of (a) the average cost of dental treatment by an NHS dentist and (b) the average cost of treatment at the new NHS drop-in centres being developed. 
Mr. Lammy: The average gross cost for a course of dental treatment including patient charges in the general dental service (GDS) in England was #36.33 for adults in 200102. The average cost for a course of treatment for charge exempt adult patients was #53.61.
Comparable information for dental access centres (DACs) is not available and the pattern of treatment provided in DACs is not directly comparable to the
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GDS. Total revenue available for DACs in 200203 is #35 million. It is anticipated that around 300,000 patients will be treated in these centres during the course of this financial year. Final allocations will be adjusted to take account of the overall performance of each centre.
Linda Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to raise the retirement age for general dental surgery principals; and what his policy is on retention of seniority payments for such principals. 
Mr. Lammy: At present general dental services (GDS) principals are removed from dental lists on 1 April following their 65th birthday, but can continue to work as assistants, or privately. We plan to amend the GDS regulations to increase this age limit to 70 years at the next available opportunity, which is likely to be in the spring of 2003. Principals who continue to work beyond the age of 65 will retain entitlement to claim seniority payments in accordance with the conditions set out in Determination III of the Statement of Dental Remuneration.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people he estimates hold donor cards; and what measures have been taken since 1997 to raise awareness and encourage people to get donor cards. 
Mr. Lammy [holding answer 29 October 2002]: The latest Gallup Survey commissioned by the National Kidney Patients Association in 2000 indicates that 28 per cent. of the population carry a donor card. This equates to about 16.5 million people in the United Kingdom.
Since 1997 we have launched a number of publicity campaigns and initiatives encouraging people to join the national health service organ donation register (ODR), to carry a donor card, and to discuss their wishes with their relatives. Advertising on television, radio and press at time of launch was supported by public information leaflets which contain donor cards and forms to join the ODR.
The organ donation literature line, 0845 60 60 400, and the campaign website (www.nhs.uk/organdonor) complements and supports this activity as do very successful partnerships with the voluntary sector, the general practitioner surgery network, Boots, Goldfish and other banks, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, the Passport Agency and GlaxoSmithKline.
In addition, United Kingdom Transplant's 2002 initiative with local authorities, encouraged people to join the ODR when they enrol on the electoral register.
The Department also runs two separate campaigns specifically targeting Asians and African Caribbeans as people from these communities are more likely to suffer from conditions that lead to kidney failure, resulting in a need for a transplant.
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Kevin Brennan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the statement by the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Lammy) of 22 October 2002, Official Report, column 61WH, on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, how the #2 million on research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in 200102 has been spent; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Lammy [holding answer 28 October 2002]: There are five research projects into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), which receives its grant in aid from the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology.
Four are led by Professor T. Partridge at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre's Muscle Cell Biology Group. These are:
XStudy of factors influencing repair and regeneration of skeletal muscle", which is investigating ways of enhancing the mechanisms that promote the normal regeneration of muscle and of counteracting the factors that inhibit the process in genetic disorders such as DMD;
XInvestigation of fibrogenic mechanisms in dystrophic muscle", which is investigating fibrosis, a feature of chronic muscle trauma, which is implicated in the clinical decline of DMD;
XIdentification of muscle specific promoter/enhancer regions of collagen 1 gene", which is looking for genes encoding collagen 1, because the accumulation of excess collagenous connective tissue is thought to play a part in the pathogenesis of DMD, and once the gene has been found, it is hoped that production can be reduced; and
XInvestigation of the mechanisms that generate revertant muscle fibres", which aims to discover why people with DMD have an unusual production of dystrophin despite the presence of mutations that ought to prevent its production.
One is led by Professor K. Davies at the MRC functional genetics unit. This is XMolecular analysis of neuromuscular and neurological disease", which involves the molecular analysis of DMD.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 15 October 2002, Official Report, column 813W, on elective surgery abroad, if he will define reasonable access in paragraph three of his answer. 
Mr. Hutton: XReasonable access" means that the national health service should require through contracts an overseas provider to facilitate visits by recognised NHS bodies such as Commission for Health Improvement, whenever requested to do so.
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