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21 Nov 2002 : Column 234W—continued


Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of the situation in (a) Rwanda and (b) the Great Lakes region. [80888]

Mr. Rammell: a) Since the genocide and civil war in 1994, the Rwandan Government and people have been rebuilding their country and lives. The Government has embarked on a programme of recovery through national reconciliation and poverty reduction. It has made significant progress but continues to face many challenges, including the delivery of a tradition-based judicial process (gacaca), the demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants, and democratisation.

b) The situation in the Great Lakes is dominated by the conflicts in DRC and Burundi. In the DRC the 30 July Pretoria Agreement was a welcome development, resulting in the withdrawal of all Rwandan forces by 5 October. The Government of DRC must now honour its Pretoria commitments to deal with the anti-Rwandan militia operating in DRC, and reach agreement with the rebel groups (MLC and RCD-Goma) on a transitional Government.talks resumed on 15 November. It is hoped this will end the conflict conclusively and result in the withdrawal of the remaining Zimbabwean and Uganda forces soon.

In Burundi recent talks produced a ceasefire between the Government of Burundi and some, but not all, of the rebels. We are giving our full support to South African and Tanzanian mediation efforts, which are seeking a comprehensive agreement. Uganda's President Museveni is convening a regional summit soon.

UK Ambassador (Washington)

Mr. Wyatt : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Sir David Manning will take up his position as the new UK ambassador to Washington; and when Sir Christopher Meyer is due to retire. [82113]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: Sir David Manning will take up his position as British Ambassador to Washington in summer 2003. Sir Christopher Meyer will retire at the end of February 2003.

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Child Care

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has to improve the interdependence and effectiveness of advocacy and support services for children in residential care and their preparation for independent living when they leave residential care. [80471]

Jacqui Smith: The Children (Leaving Care) Act commenced in October 2001. This imposed a duty on local authorities to provide a personal adviser to each young person leaving care from their 16th birthday. This adviser must work with the young person to draw up a Xpathway plan" setting out the support that they must have to prepare them for independent living. Part of the adviser's role will be to represent the views of young people and to advocate on their behalf with the agencies whose services will be necessary to prepare them for adulthood. Guidance to the Act also requires local authorities to make provision so that young people may have access to independent advocacy if they need to complain about how services have been provided for them.

The Adoption and Children Act 2002, when commenced, will place a new duty on local authorities to make arrangements for the provision of advocacy for looked after children.


Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to help sufferers of arthritis. [80890]

Jacqui Smith: The national service framework for older people does not specifically focus on arthritis but through improvements in general hospital care, and especially through the new single assessment process, older people's health care needs will be properly targeted, so ensuring that the services that are provided are most appropriate to their needs.

People with arthritis will benefit from the expert patients programme, which will see the national health service provide training in self-management skills for people with long-term chronic conditions. The first pilot phase has begun in selected primary care trust sites, with activity to take place both on a generic and a disease-specific basis.

The Medical Research Council, which is the main Government research agency, funded major research projects into arthritis. Also, in the past year, two new classes of drugs, Cox II inhibitors and anti-TNF therapy, have been made available to arthritis patients, following reviews by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). In addition, NICE is reviewing the drug Anakinra for its clinical and cost effectiveness in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

Bed Occupancy (Buckinghamshire)

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the average bed occupancy rate was at NHS units in Chesham and Amersham in each of the last six years since 1 May 1996; [81200]

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Ms Blears [holding answer 19 November2002]: Information is not collected centrally, or by Thames Valley health authority, at constituency level. Information on bed numbers and occupancy together with details of cancelled operations for the three Buckinghamshire acute trusts has been placed in the Library.

On the progress made on cancelled operations and appointments, I am advised by Thames Valley Strategic health authority that the acute trust providing care for Chesham and Amersham constituents, South Buckinghamshire national health service trust, has performed well. In terms of cancelled operations, information for Quarter 1 of 2002–03 shows no last minute cancellations for non-clinical reasons.


Dr. Fox : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated cost to date is of the introduction of the Cardiology NUF; and what estimates have been made of future cost implications. [80953]

Ms Blears: The national service framework for coronary heart disease is a programme for improving services for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

The Department does not collect figures on the cost of national health service services, which enables an accurate global figure for the cost of tackling a particular disease to be calculated. The great majority of spending on services for coronary heart disease is contained within primary care trust unified allocations. It is for primary care trusts, in partnership with NHS trusts and other local stakeholders, to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services.


Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what percentage of the population in the Fareham and Gosport Primary Care Trust area is registered with dentists in the national health service; [80802]

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Ms Blears: Approximately 40 per cent. of the population in the Fareham and Gosport Primary Care Trust (PCT) area were registered with a general dental service (GDS) dentist at 30 September 2002. This percentage will exclude patients who have not been to their GDS dentists within the past 15 months, as registrations last for 15 months after the end of the month of attendance, and patients who receive dental treatment from other national health service dental services.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Health Authority has advised me that NHS services available within the borough of Gosport include:

It is not possible to quantify the annual activity of the Fareham NHS Treatment Centre. However, the treatment centre can treat 40 patients per day. The centre does not deal with routine dental treatment. Patients attend the centre for emergency treatment or, if they are in the process of having a course of treatments, they would attend the centre specifically for that treatment.

The Strategic Health Authority has advised me that currently no NHS dentists within Gosport are accepting new adult patients. Patients wishing to register with a CDS dentist can obtain details of dentists accepting new patients by contacting NHS Direct.

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the payment to dentists under the national health service relates to the time involved and costs incurred by the dentist. [80730]

Mr. Lammy: Dentists' fees are set out in the Statement of Dental Remuneration (SDR) which was set in consultation with the profession. The SDR was designed to deliver, after expenses, a target annual net income (TANI) for dental practitioners with an average commitment to the national health service. The TANI was reviewed annually by the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body on Remuneration (DDRB) who made recommendations on any increase as appropriate.

Since 1994, based on evidence submitted by the Government and the profession including evidence submitted jointly on practice expenses, the DDRB have made pay recommendations based on percentage increases to the gross fees to cover both income and expenses rather than setting a TANI. Since 1999 the Government have accepted the Review Body's recommendations without staging. The current average net income of dental practitioners is considered to be in line with comparable professions.

Discussions with representatives of the dental profession take place regularly, where joint work is undertaken to review any particular fee items that appear to have fallen out of line with current practices.

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