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7 Dec 2004 : Column 506W—continued


Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to publish his Department's response to the Third Report of the Health Select Committee of Session 2003–04, HC23, on Obesity; and for what reason his Department has been unable to supply a response within the six month time limit understood by convention. [202742]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Government's response will be published shortly.

A substantive response could only be published following the completion of the public health White Paper "Choosing Health".

GPs (Recruitment)

Mr. Blizzard : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress he is making in recruiting more general practitioners. [202220]

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Mr. Hutton: In June 2004 there were 31,215 GPs (excluding retainers, registrars and locums) working for the NHS. This is an increase of 3,169 (11.3 per cent.) since 1997.


Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to fund the establishment and maintenance of the central point of expertise on timber. [201260]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department supports the initiative to set up the central point of expertise on timber (CPET). We are committed to purchasing from sustainable sources and we purchase our wooden furniture from companies that meet the highest environmental standards.

However, the Department's requirement for construction timber is minimal and is not likely to increase in the foreseeable near future. We have to concentrate resources on issues that directly relate to health. As the CPET does not meet this criterion, the Department is not able to contribute at the present time.
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Mental Health (Wycombe)

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether Wycombe Primary Care Trust intends to discontinue making placements to employment schemes provided by Wycombe Mind; [203085]

(2) what day services previously available to people with mental health problems at Harlow House in High Wycombe have been withdrawn in the last 12 months. [203086]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In line with our policy of "Shifting the Balance of Power", supported by national service frameworks, it is now for primary care trusts (PCTs), in partnership with strategic health authorities and other local stakeholders, to plan, develop and improve services for local people, subject to their assessment of local need.

We recognise that health services are better when management is devolved to the frontline. Within the framework set out in the "NHS Plan" and other policy documents, PCTs, with their specialised knowledge of the local community are effectively able to manage and improve local services.

I therefore suggest that the hon. Member liaises directly with the local national health service.