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Miss Melanie Johnson: The most recently available information on the number of drug related deaths is for 2002 1 . The figures show for the second consecutive year, a reduction in the overall number of drug related deaths.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce an automatic e-mail notification facility for announcements and publications issued by his Department and those public bodies reporting to him. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department's website does not currently have the technology in place to allow users to subscribe to an e-mail notification facility. However, we do send e-mails to alert recipients of our online bulletins when new editions are published.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what targets have been set by his Department on increasing generic prescribing in the community; what progress has been made in meeting these targets; and what savings have been made as a result; 
(2) what his latest estimate is of the community generic prescribing rate; and if he will estimate how much the NHS in England would save if community generic prescribing levels increased to 80 per cent. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department's Public Service Agreement for 199902 included targets to increase the generic prescribing rate for all practices in England to an average 72 per cent., and to move at least half of those practices with a generic prescribing rate below 40 per cent., to above that levelboth to be achieved by March 2002. Those targets were achieved. The average rate of generic prescribing in England has reached 78 per cent., and some primary care trusts are achieving rates in excess of 85 per cent. The savings from increasing the current figure to 80 per cent., are likely to be relatively modest, but we have not made an estimate.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the independent regular forum with regional and national media to discuss health issues will be attended by Ministers from the Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The details of an independent regular forum with national and local media as outlined in the "Choosing Health" White Paper are still being finalised, but once they are clear, I will give full consideration to the involvement of Ministers.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made for central funding of health per capita in (a) Burnley, (b) Lancashire and (c) the North West in each of the next three years. 
The 200607 and 200708 revenue allocations have not yet been determined. Work has commenced on the next round of allocations, covering the period 200607 to 200708. The next round of revenue allocations will be announced early in the new year.
|PCT||200506 allocation per un-weighted(36) head of population (£)|
|Ashton, Leigh and Wigan||1,185|
|Bebington and West Wirral||1,165|
|Birkenhead and Wallasey||1,278|
|Blackburn with Darwen||1,197|
|Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale||1,181|
|Carlisle and District||1,081|
|Chorley and South Ribble||986|
|Ellesmere Port and Neston||1,102|
|Heywood and Middleton||1,206|
|Hyndburn and Ribble Valley||1,137|
|Southport and Formby||1,165|
|Tameside and Glossop||1,174|
As a result of the Department's "Shifting the Balance of Power" initiative, responsibility for commissioning and improving health services has
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1321W
been delegated to primary care trusts (PCTs). The Department sets out a national framework and strategic health authorities ((SHAs) performance manage the PCTs to ensure these are adhered to.
The November 2004 primary care access survey results show that, nationally, 99 per cent. of patients were able to be offered an appointment within two working days to see a general practitioner, and 99 per cent. of patients were able to be offered an appointment within one working day to see a primary care professional.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of whether there is a correlation between increases in air pollution and rates of heart attacks; and how many deaths from heart attacks were ascribed to this cause, in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 14 December 2004]: The committee on the medical effects of air pollutants (COMEAP) is currently completing a report on the association between air pollution and cardiovascular disease. It is clear that daily variations in concentrations of air pollutants, including particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide are associated with changes in daily rates of heart attacks and other acute cardiovascular events. The exact mechanisms of effects are not, however, yet clear. Long-term exposure to fine particles and to sulphur dioxide is associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes: again, the mechanisms of effect are unclear.
The COMEAP report will be published in 2005. COMEAP will then begin to revise its earlier report on the quantification of the effects of air pollutants on health in the United Kingdom. Attention will be paid to the associations between air pollutants and cardiovascular disease.
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