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16 Dec 2004 : Column 1318W—continued

Drug Overdoses

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many confirmed deaths there were in 2003 from drug overdoses involving (a) methadone use and (b) buprenorphine use. [205223]

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.

In 2002 there were 216 deaths from drug poisoning involving methadone 2 and two deaths from drug poisoning involving buprenorphine.

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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. [203687]

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.

We are investigating how we might introduce this technology to improve the service we provide for users of the Department's website.

In addition, the Department is an active contributor to the "Info4local" website for local authorities, which does offer e-mail notifications.

Generic Prescribing

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; [203063]

(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. [203064]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department's Public Service Agreement for 1999–02 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 level—both 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.

Health Forum

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. [199483]

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.

Health Funding (North-west)

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. [204804]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: The table shows the 2005–06 revenue funding per un-weighted head of population for primary care trusts (PCTs) in the North West, which also covers Burnley and Lancashire.

The 2006–07 and 2007–08 revenue allocations have not yet been determined. Work has commenced on the next round of allocations, covering the period 2006–07 to 2007–08. The next round of revenue allocations will be announced early in the new year.
North West 2005–06: PCT allocations per un-weightedhead of population

PCT2005–06 allocation per un-weighted(36) head of population (£)
Ashton, Leigh and Wigan1,185
Bebington and West Wirral1,165
Birkenhead and Wallasey1,278
Blackburn with Darwen1,197
Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale1,181
Carlisle and District1,081
Central Cheshire986
Central Liverpool1,405
Central Manchester1,383
Cheshire West1,036
Chorley and South Ribble986
Eastern Cheshire1,024
Eden Valley985
Ellesmere Port and Neston1,102
Heywood and Middleton1,206
Hyndburn and Ribble Valley1,137
Morecambe Bay1,121
North Liverpool1,394
North Manchester1,549
South Liverpool1,376
South Manchester1,297
South Sefton1,244
Southport and Formby1,165
St. Helens1,195
Tameside and Glossop1,174
Trafford North1,162
Trafford South1,088
West Cumbria1,118
West Lancashire1,094

(36) Un-weighted population figures are supplied by the Office for National Statistics. Un-weighted head of population allocation figures have not been modified for age, need and cost in accordance with the formula which is used to inform allocations.

Health Services (Lewisham, Deptford)

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department has taken to improve primary healthcare services in the Lewisham, Deptford constituency since 1997. [201102]

Dr. Ladyman: As a result of the Department's "Shifting the Balance of Power" initiative, responsibility for commissioning and improving health services has
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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.

Locally, information is not collected for parliamentary constituencies. However, the Department is able to confirm that recent investment in South East London primary care services includes:

Heart Attacks

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. [204843]

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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