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25 Feb 2003 : Column 513W—continued

Drug Dependency (Treatment)

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time was for an opiate dependent patient seeking treatment before he or she received treatment in the last year for which figures are available. [97643]

Ms Blears: Opiate dependent patients receive treatment through the different treatment delivery methods as listed, depending on their clinical need. The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) has implemented a waiting times strategy which

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is significantly reducing waiting times. The longest waiting times reported to the NTA in drug action team treatment plans are shown in the table.


December 2001December 2002
In-patient detoxification 128
Specialist prescribing148
GP prescribing54
Structured counselling75
Day Care63
Residential rehab97

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the proportion of opiate dependent patients seeking treatment who (a) proceed to receive treatment, (b) complete the course of treatment and (c) fail to report for treatment when offered. [97644]

Ms Blears: Information on the numbers of drug misusers in contact with drug treatment agencies in England is available in "Statistics from the Regional Drug Misuse Databases on drug misusers in treatment in England, 2000–01" This document is available in the Library.

The Department funded National Treatment Outcome Research Study demonstrates that around half, or 47 per cent., of drug users who have gone through residential programmes, and more than a third, or 35 per cent., of those from methadone programmes are still abstinent from opiates at four to five years. More than a third, or 38 per cent., of all the residential clients were also abstinent from all six illicit target drugs—illicit heroin, non-prescribed methadone, non-prescribed benzodiazepines, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, amphetamines—at four to five years.

The National Drug Treatment Monitoring System collects data on drug users on arrest referral schemes which show that 48,810 individuals were screened between October 2000 and September 2001 in England and Wales, of whom over half were voluntarily referred to a specialist drug treatment service. Of those referred, a quarter made a demand for treatment, a total of 5,520 individuals.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of methadone is prescribed for (a) oral consumption and (b) delivery by injection. [97647]

Ms Blears: 96 per cent. of all prescription items for methadone hydrochloride that were dispensed in the community in England in 2001 were for oral consumption. The corresponding percentage for injections is 4 per cent.

It should be noted that methadone is not only prescribed for opioid dependence and may be prescribed as a treatment for other conditions.

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Electronic Patient Records

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what targets are in place for the introduction of electronic patient records; [88736]

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for health pursuant to the answer given to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham on 13 January 2003, Official Report, column 488W, when he expects all NHS trusts in the south-east to have introduced electronic patient records. [92598]

Mr. Lammy: The following targets are in place for implementing the Integrated Care Record Service (ICRS) in the Government's '21st Century IT' Strategy for the national health service:

ENT Patients

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has put in place to extend the London pilot scheme on patient choice for (a) cataract patients, (b) ENT patients and (c) general surgery throughout England. [97316]

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Mr. Hutton: Choice pilot projects have been approved in the following areas:

These projects will help local health services prepare for the implementation of wider patient choice leading to implementation guidance being issued to the national health service later this year.

Evening Primrose

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the withdrawal of Oil of Evening Primrose from the NHS Tariff. [96508]

Ms Blears: The marketing authorisations for two products, Epogam and Efamast, containing gamolenic acid, which is derived from evening primrose oil, were withdrawn in October 2002. This action followed a review by the Committee on Safety of Medicines and the Medicines Commission, who came to the conclusion that the products did not meet the current standard of effectiveness required for authorisation of these products as medicines for the treatment of eczema and breast pain respectively.

Family Doctors

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average ratio of family doctors to patients was in (a) 1997 and (b) 2000; and what the average is now in (i) England and (ii) North Yorkshire. [98050]

Mr. Hutton: The average ratio of all practitioner, excluding general practitioner retainers, and unrestricted principle equivalents GPs to patients in England and North Yorkshire in 1997, 2000 and 2001 is shown in the table.

Ratio of all practitioners (excluding GP retainers)(49) and unrestricted principals and equivalents (UPEs)(50)to patients in North Yorkshire health authority and England; 1997, 2000 and 2001

Ratio of:Ratio of:Ratio of:
All practitioners: patients (excl. GP retainers)UPEs: patientsAll practitioners: patients (excl. GP retainers)UPEs: patientsAll practitioners: patients (excl. GP retainers)UPEs: patients
North Yorkshire HA1:1,5121:1,6601:1,4391:1,6051:1,4431:1,594

(49) All practitioners (excluding GP retainers) include GMS unrestricted principals, PMS contracted GPs, PMS salaried GPs, restricted principals, assistants, GP registrars, salaried doctors (para. 52 SFA), PMS others.

(50) UPEs include GMS unrestricted principals, PMS contracted GPs and PMS salaried GPs.


1. GP retainers were first collected in 1999 and have been omitted from this table for comparability purposes.

2. Data as at 1 October 1997 and 30 September 2000–01.


General and Personal Medical Services Statistics

Foster Care

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government has to increase (a) funding for the foster carer service and (b) local authority allowances for children in foster care. [98486]

Jacqui Smith: A £19.75 million choice protects grant will be paid to local authorities in 2003–04 to expand and strengthen their fostering services. The choice protects review is examining placement services for looked after children with a particular emphasis on fostering services. Fostering allowances are being considered alongside issues such as recruitment, retention and methods of supporting foster carers.

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much is paid towards foster care allowances in each Social Services Authority. [96091]

Jacqui Smith: This information is not held centrally.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to standardise allowances paid to foster carers throughout the United Kingdom. [96092]

Jacqui Smith: The Department of Health is currently reviewing all aspects of the fostering service, including remuneration and other issues such as training and support as part of the Choice Protects review.

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