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29 Mar 2004 : Column 1214W—continued


"Delivering Race Equality"

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will publish the responses received to "Delivering Race Equality"; and when he will publish the Government's proposals. [163562]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We plan to issue two documents, the final version of Delivering Race Equality and a summary of the consultation responses in early summer.


Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the Government have not signed the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine. [162705]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 22 March 2004]: The convention covers a wide range of complex ethical and legal issues where United Kingdom domestic policy is still to be resolved following consultations. These matters will need to be concluded before the Government are in a position to consider signing and ratifying the convention.

Breast Screening

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made on extending breast screening to younger women; and if he will make a statement. [163688]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Forrest report, on which the breast screening programme is based, recommended further research to assess the clinical and cost-effectiveness of offering routine screening to women under 50. This is under way, entitled, "Randomised controlled trial of the effect of breast cancer mortality of annual mammographic screening of women starting at age 40" (the 'Age' Trial).

The main aim of the study is to evaluate the effect of annual mammographic screening of women starting at ages 40 to 41 on mortality from breast cancer, thus giving a definitive answer to the outstanding question of whether population screening below 50 is beneficial or not. The study began in February 1991, and recruitment to the trial has now stopped at 160,000 women. The study costs over £1 million a year to run. As the trial is primarily looking at mortality benefits, full results are not expected before 2005.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what resources he will be making available to implement the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines on the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. [163799]

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Dr. Ladyman: Primary care trusts (PCTs), in partnership with local stakeholders, are responsible for deciding what local service improvements need to be made.

The national health service is currently receiving the largest sustained increase in funding in its history. The total of PCT allocations is £45 billion for 2003–04, £49.3 billion for 2004–05 and £53.9 billion for 2005–06. This represents an increase of £12.7 billion, or an average of 30.8 per cent. over the three years 2003–06.

Cluster Headaches

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that the needs of those who suffer from cluster headaches are taken into account in the tender for the supply of domiciliary oxygen. [163909]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Healthcare professionals are responsible for assessing and prescribing oxygen therapy for patients, including those suffering from cluster headaches. The new contract, being developed to support introduction of a modernised, integrated, oxygen service from 2005, will require service contractors to supply oxygen in a way that best meets the needs of the patient, as set out in the patient's prescription.

Computer Misuse

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of computer misuse there were in his Department in (a) 1997 and (b) 2003, broken down by category of misuse; and how many of those cases resulted in disciplinary action. [163250]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department takes very seriously any misuse of its information technology systems. All computer users are made aware of the Department's acceptable use policy, which is brought to the attention of new users and is available on the Department of Health Intranet.

Figures for the year 1997 are not available. The table shows the total recorded cases of significant breaches of the Department's acceptable use policy. Figures cover downloading of inappropriate material, loading of unauthorised software and the storage and circulation of inappropriate emails. A more detailed breakdown of these figures is not available. Management checks indicate only a small number of the breaches involve inappropriate content.


Type of misuseTotal cases
Internet and e-mail0
Total no of cases7
Police conviction1
Action outstanding2
Disciplinary action taken4

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Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when he will reply to the letter to him from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, dated 17 February with regard to Dr. P. W. Bishop. [161801]

Dr. John Reid: A reply was sent to my right hon. Friend on 26 March 2004.


Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the population had access to an NHS dentist in (a) 1997, (b) 2000 and (c) 2003. [155543]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 23 February 2004]: The Adult Dental Health Survey in 1998 showed that 71 per cent. of the population had seen a dentist in the previous year. Table 1 shows the percentage of dentate adults surveyed that last visited the dentist in given periods.

Table 1

Time since last visit to the dentist(24)Percentage of dentate adults
Up to 1 year71
Over 1 year, up to 2 years7
Over 2 years, up to 5 years12
Over 5 years, up to 10 years6

(24) Excludes those who have never been to the dentist.

There is no straightforward measure of national health service dental access. However, adult courses of NHS dental treatment have continued to increase; from 24.6 million in 1997, to 25.9 million in 2000, to 26.3 million in 2003.

Adult registrations with a General Dental Service (CDS) dentist fell in September 1997, because of a reduction in the registration period from 24 to 15 months in September 1996, and have been relatively stable since then. Table 2 shows the numbers of registrations and registration rates as a percentage of the population for adults and children at September in the years 1997, 2000 and 2003 for England.

Table 2

Number (million)Rates (percentage)

(25) The registration periods were changed in September 1996, which affected registration numbers from December 1997.

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The registration period is currently 15 months, so patients who have not attended a dentist within that period will not be included in the registration figures.

Anyone wishing to find a dentist with whom to register for NHS dental care, or obtain emergency or occasional treatment, should normally be able to do so by calling NHS Direct. In first 10 months of 2003, NHS Direct was able to give 93 per cent. of callers details of a dentist taking new NHS patients in their area and within local distance standards. Corresponding information is not available for the years 1997 and 2000.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the NHS budget has been spent on providing dental care in each of the last five years. [155544]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 23 February 2004]: The gross national health service spend on the general dental service (GDS) and personal dental services (PDS) and the percentage this represents of total NHS expenditure for 1997–98 to 2002–03 is shown in the table. During this period, gross spend on the GDS and PDS has increased by 15 per cent. in real terms.

Gross NHS general dental expenditure and percentage of NHS gross expenditure

Gross expenditure on general dental service and personal dental service(26)(£ million)Gross expenditure on general dental service and personal dental services(26) , (27) as a percentage of total gross NHS expenditure(28)

(26) Gross expenditure includes income raised through dental charges paid by patients.

(27) Expenditure on the community and hospital dental services has not been included as the information is not collected centrally.

(28) The expenditure figures used for the comparison are on a cash basis up to and including 1999–2000 and on a resource basis thereafter.

Under proposals set out in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003, primary care trusts (PCTs) will assume responsibility for commissioning primary dental care services. With these responsibilities will go the financial resources amounting to some £1.3 billion, which are currently held centrally.

We have guaranteed that dentists working in the GDS will have an automatic right to a contract under the new arrangements and that their gross earnings will be protected over the transition period of three years. During this period, PCTs' newly devolved dentistry allocations will represent a minimum level of spend on NHS which PCTs must maintain.

Mrs. Dean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many training places for dentists have been available in each of the last 10 years; [162032]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: The quota of training places available for dentists in dental schools in England, as shown in table 1, was set after the Dental Workforce Review conducted in 1987. It has not changed since then but, as the information on graduates in table 2 indicates, the number of students accepted fluctuates because dental schools are required to admit all applicants who achieve the 'A' level scores in the offer of admission the school makes.

Table 1: Number of training places available in England

Dental schoolNumber of training places
King's College, London145
QMW (Barts and The London)55

The numbers of dental students who have graduated from these courses over the last 10 years are shown in table 2.

Table 2: Number of graduates 1993–2003


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