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3 Apr 2003 : Column 848W—continued

Care Homes

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 12 December 2002, Official Report, column 493W, on care home applications, what

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the average length of time is for care home applications to be registered and processed by the National Care Standards Commission; and how many such applications there have been. [105892]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not currently available. Information is available, however, for all new registrations relating to care homes for which the National Care Standards Commission received an application after 1 April 2002. This amounts to 779 applications and the average time taken to process these applications is 114 days. Work continues to refine this information and I will write to the hon. Member with the specific information requested when it becomes available.

Civil Service Travel

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what grades in the Civil Service in his Department are allowed to travel by air (a) first class and (b) business class at public expense when on official duties. [104964]

Mr. Lammy: The Department of Health no longer has traditional civil service grades, but has paybands into which all posts fall. The class of travel used by staff travelling by air on official duties is decided by the manager authorising the travel according to operational needs and not the payband of the traveller. The Department is committed to ensuring that staff use the most efficient and economic means in the circumstances taking into account any management benefit or the requirements of disabled staff.

Commercial Confidentiality

Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department issues to civil servants on how to deal with claims from organisations that the information they provide to the Department is commercially confidential. [105557]

Mr. Lammy: All those working for and on behalf of the Department have a duty to protect all official information we are entrusted with by ministers, the public and outside organisations.

It is not standard practice to verify claims of commercial confidentiality on receiving information from organisations, as this issue is normally only relevant if the question arises as to whether or not the information should be disclosed to another party. The Code of Practice on access to Government Information—and the guidance on the operation of the Code—helps officials determine whether such information should be disclosed or withheld in response to an individual request.

Commission for Patient andPublic Improvement in Health

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff are planned to work in the nine regional centres of the Commission for Patient and Public Improvement in Health in Birmingham. [106544]

Mr. Lammy: Staffing arrangements for the regional centres of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health are a matter for the Commission.

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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many full-time staff work in the headquarters of the Commission for Patient and Public Improvement in Health in Birmingham; and what plans there are to change this number. [106569]

Mr. Lammy: Staffing arrangements are a matter for the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH). Further information relating to these can be obtained directly from the CPPIH at 9th Floor, Ladywood House, 45–56 Stephenson Street, Birmingham, B2 4DY.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the budget of the Commission for Patient and Public Improvement in Health is in 2002–03 for (a) training members of local forums and (b) national and local publicity. [106570]

Mr. Lammy: The costs for the training of local forum members will be met from the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health's (CPPIH) 2003–04 budget. Expenditure on national and local publicity and indeed other activities in 2002–03, is a matter for the CPPIH.

Community Pharmacists

Mr. Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the role of community pharmacists. [105567]

Mr. Lammy: Community pharmacists play a vital role in the national health service and in local communities more generally. They dispense around 600 million NHS prescriptions a year. They provide advice on minor ailments and sell a wide range of medicines which help people take care of their own health. They are increasingly involved in a range of additional services, including detailed advice to patients and to doctors on the use of medicines, smoking cessation schemes, and supervised consumption of methadone by drug misusers. The first repeat dispensing schemes, under which community pharmacists will supply repeat medication for up to a year, will begin shortly.

Later this year, the first pharmacists will become supplementary prescribers. We want to see an increased role for community pharmacists in providing services to NHS patients and we are currently developing a new contractual framework to make that happen. We also want to improve access and choice, so that more NHS patients can use the skills of community pharmacists for advice, information and services.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the clinical consultant caseload in Portsmouth is (a) ward-based and (b) home-based; and if he will make a statement. [104942]

Ms Blears: This information is not held centrally. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) only holds data for admitted patient care in England's national health service hospitals, and therefore, data are not available for home care. Collection of data at ward level is not mandatory and therefore is not available.

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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many NHS registered dentists there were in the Buckinghamshire Health Authority in 2002; [105704]

Ms Blears: The numbers of national health service dentists in Buckinghamshire health authority in the general dental service (CDS), personal dental service (PDS) and salaried service of the GDS at 30 September 2002 are shown in the table. The numbers of dentists for the community and hospital dental services are shown for 30 September 2001.

NHS dental services at 30 September 2002—Buckinghamshire health authority

Number of dentists(35)
General dental service(36)291
Personal dental service(37)27
Community dental service(38)30
Hospital dental service(38)10
Salaried service of the GDS4

(35) Dentists are counted in each dental service in which they practice apart from PDS dentists working in the GDS who are counted in the GDS only.

(36) GDS cover principals on the health authority list, assistants and vocational dental practitioners.

(37) The PDS covers dentists working in the PDS who are not also working in the GDS.

(38) Rounded to the nearest 10 at 30 September 2001.

These figures are on a headcount basis rather than whole time equivalent (wte) and take no account of part-time working.

There were no dental practices closed in 2002, nor were any new practices opened during 2002.

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what further help he will give to primary care trusts in rural areas to recruit NHS dentists. [105502]

Mr. Lammy: The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill, introduced to the House on 12 March, proposes that each primary care trust (PCT) be given a duty to provide or secure the provision of primary dental services in its area to the extent that it considers reasonable to do so and be given the financial resources to do this. These financial resources are currently managed centrally. It is the intention of the Bill that local commissioning will give PCTs levers that they do not currently have to influence the provision of oral health services in their areas, rural or otherwise.

The Bill also puts in place a framework by which it will be possible to pay dentists differently. Under the proposed arrangements, primary care dentists would be able to spend more time with their patients and focus on prevention and health promotion as well as treatment. It is anticipated that this will make national health service dentistry a more attractive option for dentists and that they will be encouraged to remain within the NHS or increase their NHS commitment.

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Departmental Catering Services

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost of (a) in-house canteen and (b) other catering services provided by the Department in 2002. [104263]

Mr. Lammy: During 2002, the cost to the Department, excluding agencies, of in house canteen services was 84,000 and other catering services £776,000.

The cost of in house canteen services reflects the management fee paid on one of the Department's contracts. The cost of accommodation and utilities, associated with the provision of in-house facilities, has not been included.

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