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10 Dec 2002 : Column 292Wcontinued
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the total cost to NHS ambulance trusts of delayed admissions to accident and emergency departments in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Lammy: We have received no formal representations but are aware of local concerns about delayed transfers from ambulances into accident and emergency departments. Normally any such problems are resolved locally through dialogue between the hospital, ambulance service and any other interested parties.
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Mr. Lammy: Under their national health service terms of service general dental practitioners have a duty to provide for their registered patients all treatment that is necessary to secure and maintain oral health. The statement of dental remuneration, which includes fees for surgical and non-surgical periodontal treatments, lists most of the treatments that are available on the NHS.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the provision of dentistry treatment on the NHS; and how many dentists in each PCT are (a) practising, (b) offering the full range of treatment on the NHS and (c) able to take on new patients on the NHS. 
Mr. Lammy: The number of general dental service (GDS) dentists in each primary care trust (PCT) in England at 30 June 2002 is contained in the table that has been placed in the Library. Dentists practising in more than one PCT are counted in each PCT in which they practice.
Details of the GDP that are currently accepting new patient registrations is monitored by PCTs locally and is not centrally available. Patients wishing to register with a dentist can obtain details of GDS dentists registering new patients in their area by telephoning NHS Direct or their local PCT.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received from general practitioners about the adequacy of supplies of depo provera injectable contraceptive; and what action he has taken as a result. 
Ms Blears: We have received representations from a number of health professionals, including general practitioners, about the current shortage of the injectable contraceptive depo-provera which has been caused by production problems. Departmental officials have been in regular contact with the manufacturer of this product to assist rapid action to alleviate the shortage and are aware that limited stocks are now available. Normal supplies of this product are expected to be available from 16 December.
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Mr. Lammy: The Department, working with commercial partners from the media and broadcasting industries, has recently run four pilot projects exploring health applications of digital interactive television. The different projects were chosen to explore a variety of different types of digital television service and different digital TV platforms. Information was broadcast on health conditions, healthy living and local health services using text-based material, video-on-demand and a mixture of scheduled programmes and text-based information. A range of transactional services such as booking appointments with general practitioners was also explored.
Following the completion of these pilot projects, a programme of work will begin to develop a version of NHS Direct for digital TV and to make it available nationwide. Working with commercial partners, the Department and the NHS will develop a service that will enable people to have easy and fast access at home to trusted information and advice on health, health care and the NHS. Such a service will complement the already very successful NHS Direct telephone helpline and the NHS Direct online website. The Department will also continue to explore the more transactional uses of digital TV.
The process of selecting commercial partners will begin early in the new year with the Department issuing an invitation to tender to develop and run an NHS Direct information service on digital TV. The Department's intention is, in time, to provide this service across all digital TV platforms.
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Mr. Lammy: Pre-hospital patient care remains an integral part of the health care system. The Government support the sharing of facilities and other joint working between ambulance and fire services if it is practical and mutually beneficial.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what submissions his Department has received from organisations representing epilepsy (a) patients, (b) carers and (c) service providers as part of its review of commissioning arrangements for specialised services. 
Mr. Hutton: The majority of epilepsy services are provided in a primary or secondary care setting and are not specialised services; consequently they are not within the remit of this review. There have been no specific submissions to the review from organisations solely representing epilepsy patients, carers or service providers. There have been submissions from the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales, the College of Health and London Health Link.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how and to what extent the views and opinions of epilepsy patients and their carers are being taken into account as part of the review of commissioning specialised services. 
Mr. Hutton: The review is considering the commissioning arrangements for specialised services in general, it is not looking at any one particular specialised service. The majority of epilepsy services are provided in a primary or secondary setting and, as such, are not tertiary services; consequently they are not within the remit of this review.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on the length of training required to train firefighters to fulfil paramedic responsibilities. 
Mr. Lammy: Sir George Bain's review is independent and I understand that he is still in the process of developing and refining his final proposals. Pre-hospital patient care is an integral part of the health care system, but firefighters can assist ambulance services by providing basic life support and defibrillation if that provides a faster response to life-threatening
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emergencies. This does not require the same level of training as that undergone by ambulance service paramedics.
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