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10 Nov 2004 : Column 711W—continued

Eye Health Services

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS sight tests have been taken by individuals over 60 years in each year since 1999. [190914]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 14 October 2004]: The table shows the number of national health service sight tests paid by health authorities (HAs) and primary care trusts (PCTs) in England for the years ending 31 March 2000 to 2004.
General ophthalmic services: number of sight tests paid byHAs/PCTs in England for patients aged 60 and over for the years ending 31 March 2000 to 2004

Number (million)

Sight tests cannot be equated to the numbers of patients. Although most people do not need a repeat sight test within the year, some patients suffering from medical conditions are advised to have re-examinations sooner.

Disabled People

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 October 2004,
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Official Report, column 1965W, on disabled people, if he will renew central Government funding for disability charities. [196722]

Dr. Ladyman: The Government will continue to fund charities and other voluntary sector organisations through our section 64 programme.

Decisions about 2005–06 bids will be made shortly.

Domiciliary Care

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on recruitment and retention in domiciliary care services. [196295]

Dr. Ladyman: The Department does not employ social care domiciliary workers and it is the responsibility of the employers to tackle problems of recruitment and retention, but the Government are taking a lead with employers in a range of initiatives to deal with the problems. These include additional funding to employers to facilitate joined up working and human resource development, new types of worker pilot schemes and a new national information service.

For the second consecutive year, we are investing £1.5 million in a national social care recruitment campaign. The next television campaign is planned for January 2005 and will run for four weeks into early February. The previous television campaign, in February and March 2004, attracted over 80,000 contacts. All callers to the information service were either sent a suitable careers publication or, if they had an immediate interest in applying for a job, they were transferred to their nearest Job Centre Plus contact.

Health and Social Care

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to ensure that health and social care professionals carry out a full assessment of capacity about the matter in question when planning or providing health and social care to someone whose capacity is in doubt. [194735]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 10 November 2004]: The Mental Capacity Bill takes a functional approach to capacity. The question of who assesses an individual's capacity will depend on the particular decision to be made. The more serious the decision, the more formal the assessment of capacity may need to be.

For most day-to-day decisions, the carer most directly involved with the person at the time the decision has to be made will assess the person's capacity. Formal processes are rarely required, unless the assessment is challenged or there is reason for doubt. Whoever assesses capacity must be prepared to justify his or her findings.

Where consent to medical treatment or examination is required, the doctor proposing the treatment must decide whether the patient has capacity to consent and should record the assessment process and findings in the person's medical notes.

If a person's capacity to do something is disputed, or there is serious doubt, it is a question for the court to decide. Cases referred to the new Court of Protection will require evidence of the assessment of capacity. The
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code of practice will set out possible situations when a formal assessment of capacity is required and examples of where cases may be referred to the court.

Low Vision Aids

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to encourage social services departments to provide low vision aids, free of charge to any person requiring them. [196428]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Low vision aids are already available free on loan to any person requiring them. It is for local areas to decide how best to organise their low vision services. Most services are provided in a hospital setting by the hospital eye service, because prescription of the aid and training in its use must be done in the context of vision assessments. The hospital eye service will assess the needs of the individual and provide any necessary low vision aids, which could be in the form of strong reading glasses, magnifiers or telescopes.

Social services departments have responsibility for assessing the needs of individuals who request help due to problems with their vision. This is usually in the form of modifications to a person's home, such as improved lighting and hi-marks for cookers. Any help offered will be following a comprehensive assessment of the individual's needs.

The Government-funded integrating community equipment services initiative aims to produce better general equipment services for people by integrating separate national health service and social services equipment services.

NHS Dentistry

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) recruiting the equivalent of 1,000 dentists by October 2005 and (b) increasing training places for dentists by 170 from 2005. [187294]

Ms Rosie Winterton: £50 million was provided across the national health service to increase the amount of NHS work carried out by practising dentists during 2004–05. Other costs are under review.

The total cost to the Department and the Higher Education Funding Council for England of increasing training places by 170 is estimated as £40 million revenue and £95 million capital.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children in Hull and East Riding were registered with an NHS dentist on (a) 1 September 2003 and (b) 1 September 2004. [194976]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There were 75,214 children under 18 registered with national health service dentists in the four primary care trusts covering Hull and the East Riding on 1 September 2003 and 74,366 on 1 September 2004.

Waiting Times

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 1 November 2004 to question 194032, what the average waiting time for a first
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appointment with a consultant in (a) psychiatry, (b) urology and (c) endocrinology were in the last period for which figures are available. [196604]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is shown in the table.
Average (median) times for consultant outpatient appointment following general practitioner referral

SpecialtyMedian waiting times (weeks)
Mental handicap3.56
Mental illness3.72
Child and adolescent psychiatry5.33
Forensic psychiatry2.00
Old age psychiatry3.80

Department of Health form QM08.


Acoustic Screening

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was of the acoustic screening erected within the last three years on both sides of the M1, north and south of Junction 11; what noise-level studies led to their installation; and what the results of those studies were. [195947]

Mr. Jamieson: In September 2003 the Highways Agency completed the first phase of a scheme to provide acoustic fences on both sides of the M1 at Junction 11 at Luton. Because of the cost and complexity of the scheme, the work is being carried out in two phases.

The cost of completing Phase 1 was £2.4 million.

Phase 2 is due to start this month with completion expected in April 2005. The cost for Phase 2 is estimated at £1.9 million.

In March 1999 the Government established revised criteria and a ring-fenced annual budget of £5 million to deal with some of the most serious and pressing cases of traffic noise on existing trunk roads. A written reply to a parliamentary question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Jonathan Shaw) on 11 November 1999, Official Report, column 681W, contained a letter from Lawrie Haynes, the then chief executive of the Highways Agency, identifying those locations where previous concerns about noise had been expressed which were found to satisfy the new criteria (location list known as the "Hansard" list). The Ml between Junctions 10 and 11 and between Junctions 11 and 12 were included on the list.

In September 1999, the agency commissioned its managing agents to carry out a detailed study of noise conditions between Junctions 10 and 12 of the Ml at Luton. The study report identified 772 properties in an area chiefly concentrated around Junction 11 with a noise greater than 68 dB(A). The report concluded that through the provision of noise barriers over extended lengths and varying in height between two and three metres, it would be feasible to provide substantial noise reducing benefits for many properties. 280 properties
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would receive a noise reduction of at least 3 dB(A); equivalent to a halving of the traffic. Another 492 properties would receive a smaller but nonetheless tangible benefit as a result of the scheme.

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