Previous Section Index Home Page

3 Dec 2002 : Column 742W—continued

Vacant Properties

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proposals he has to prevent vacant properties in Northern Ireland falling into decay and dereliction. [84998]

Mr. Browne: The existence of empty property can be symptomatic of an underlying and complex interaction of wider social problems, including urban and rural decay, unemployment, crime and vandalism, anti-social behaviour etc. Solutions, therefore, are not just about good housing management, but require more complex strategies and inter-agency initiatives. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive, as the comprehensive regional housing authority for Northern Ireland, has put in place a number of measures to address the problem of empty homes in the public and private sectors throughout the province.

Local strategies have already been implemented to address the range of problems occurring in difficult to let areas. The Housing Executive's existing action plan has been progressed as follows:

Marketing, community safety and anti-blight measures in public sector estates including use of alarm systems, the appointment of neighbourhood wardens and other security measures.

3 Dec 2002 : Column 743W

Improvement or demolition of unpopular, non-traditional housing including decapitation (partial demolition); privatisation and more intensive management eg concierge.

In addition, legislation is proposed that will provide for the introduction of a shorthold tenancy, to be managed by the housing associations. This is designed to allow vacant properties to be let for short periods where owners are reluctant to let for longer terms.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the number of empty dwellings in Northern Ireland (a) in Belfast, (b) in Derry and (c) outside Belfast and Derry, broken down by (i) county and (ii) district council areas. [84999]

Mr. Browne: Figures from the Northern Ireland House Condition Survey 2001 are currently being validated and will be published by the Northern Ireland housing executive early in 2003. The survey will provide up-to-date figures on the number of empty dwellings in Northern Ireland across all tenures.

In relation to the housing executive's own stock the following table sets out the position at August 2002. The figures include properties vested for demolition in urban renewal areas.

District council areaLong term(23)Pending demolition(24)
North Down574
Newry and Mourne2458

(23) Long term voids are dwellings which are difficult to let due to lack of demand.

Included within this category are dwellings which have been secured to prevent

vandalism and properties that have been fire damaged.

(24) Voids pending demolition are properties located in redevelopment areas or purpose built stock which have received housing executive board approval to be demolished.

3 Dec 2002 : Column 744W


Drug Addiction Programmes

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has collated on average waiting times for admission to (a) state-supported methadone programmes and (b) state-supported programmes aimed at overcoming heroin addiction that do not involve the prescription of methadone. [83858]

Ms Blears: This information is not available in the format requested. The table below provides waiting time figures collected by the national treatment agency in December 2001, along with locally agreed targets for 2002 and the national targets for 2002–03 and 2003–04. The specialist prescribing and general practitioner prescribing treatment modalities below include methadone programmes, and the other figures (with the exception of inpatient detoxification) include non-methadone treatments.

Treatment modality2001 figures (weeks)Local 2002 targets (weeks)NTA 2002–03 target (weeks)NTA 2003–04 target (weeks)
In-patient detoxification127.142
Specialist prescribing14.17.563
GP prescribing5.74.342
Day care63.943
Residential rehabilitation9.16.343

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many state-funded places are available for heroin users on (a) methadone programmes and (b) programmes aimed at overcoming heroin addiction that do not involve the prescription of methadone. [83859]

Ms Blears: Up to March 2001, the number of drug users in treatment with drug misuse agencies and general practitioners (GPs) was around 118,500. The majority of those entering treatment are heroin users. Over the two-year period from 1998–99 to 2000–01 there has been a 16 per cent. increase in the numbers of drug users accessing drug treatment services.

The specialist prescribing and GP prescribing treatment modalities in the following table include places in methadone programmes, and the other figures (with the exception of in-patient detoxification) include non-methadone treatments.

Treatment modalityNumber in treatment Percentage in treatment
In-patient detoxification2,424 2
Specialist prescribing103,094 87
GP prescribing8,180 7
Day care706 1
Residential rehabilitation1,902 2

3 Dec 2002 : Column 745W


Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has to review the scale of payment made to dentists undertaking NHS work. [82631]

Mr. Lammy: Dentists fees are reviewed annually by the independent Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body on remuneration, who consider evidence submitted by the Government and representatives of the profession. Officials from my Department are working closely with the profession to see how changes can be made to dentists' remuneration to improve the service for patients and the dental team.

Dr. Tonge : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of adults are registered with an NHS dentist. [82633]

Mr. Lammy : 44 per cent. of adults were registered with a General Dental Service (GDS) dentist in England at 30 September 2002, and this rate has remained stable since 1998. Those patients who do not wish to, or are unable to register may be seen on the NHS under occasional treatment arrangements.

Patients wishing to be treated under the NHS should be able to obtain details of dentists accepting new patients for registration in their area by contacting NHS Direct.

IT Systems

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on integration of the information technology system in the NHS. [82632]

Ms Blears: The NHS is preparing to implement the XIntegrated Care Records Service", this will bring together all the health information of a single patient into one record. The record will be computer based and accessible from any point in the NHS.

Prisoners (Health)

Mr. Webb : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the adequacy of health provision, with particular reference to mental health, for inmates of HMP Eastwood Park. [82634]

Jacqui Smith: Eastwood Park has worked with its local NHS partners to complete a full health needs assessment, including the mental health needs, for its inmates. Eastwood Park was also among the first prisons to join the NHS-funded prison mental health in-reach project in July 2001, providing services within the prison setting.

Next Section Index Home Page