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Miss Johnson: Recruitment and retention of GPs in Hartlepool is a matter for the local Primary Care Trust. I can inform you that the PCT currently has seven vacancies for GPs. It has employed eight salaried GPs to provide capacity where it has not been possible to attract principal GPs to practices. The PCT has also been working with the County Durham and Tees Valley strategic health authority to develop international recruitment of GPs. Under the national initiatives, new GPs in Hartlepool will receive the higher rate Golden Hello payment.
Miss Johnson: The North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is currently publicly consulting upon future models of acute hospital services for the whole of North Cumbria, including West Cumbria. The local population have opportunities to comment as part of the consultation process. The model includes maintaining acute hospital services in Carlisle and West Cumbria.
Mr. Hutton: The weighted capitation formula will be used to determine each Primary Care Trust's (PCTs) target share of available resources. Work on the precise allocations for each PCT covering the period 200607 to 200708 is ongoing.
Dr. Ladyman: Information on the proportion of mental health service users who have a care plan is not collected centrally. However, the Trent strategic health authority reports that all service users, of working age accepting a service from Derbyshire Mental Health Services NHS Trust, have a Care Programme Approach Care Plan.
Mr. Hutton: We began collecting data on the improvement of GP premises in April 2000. The latest available figures are at September 2004 and show that 2,471 GP premises have been replaced or refurbished.
18. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Health To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the allocation of funding for health to recognise the needs of different socio-economic groups. 
Mr. Hutton: A weighted capitation formula is used to determine each primary care trust's (PCTs) target share of available resources, to enable them to commission similar levels of health services for populations in similar need.
19. Mr. Flook : To ask the Secretary of State for Health To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect of the new dental contract on dental laboratories; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: An early analysis indicated a reduction in laboratory work but did not reach any firm conclusions and we are therefore continuing to analyse the effects of PDS on dental laboratories.
20. Mr. Michael Foster : To ask the Secretary of State for Health To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of activity levels at Worcestershire Royal hospital; and if he will make a statement. 
23. Andy King : To ask the Secretary of State for Health To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many consultants were working in the NHS (a) on 1 January 2005 and (b) on 1 January 1997. 
Mr. Hutton: The latest information on consultant numbers is as at 30 June 2004, when there were 30,171 consultants employed in the NHS. This is an increase of almost 8,700 (41 per cent.) from 21,474 in September 1997.
Dr. Ladyman: The Department of Health, with the Medical Research Council, is funding three research projects on intermediate care costing £1.5 million. Two of the research projects are looking generally at the provision, impact and cost of intermediate care services, with a third focusing on the role of community hospitals in promoting independence. The projects will be completed in the near future and the findings will be made available on the Department of Health's research website.
Mr. Hutton: Assimilation to the new pay system commenced from 1 December 2004, and around 1,000 staff were assimilated onto Agenda for Change in that month. The rate of assimilation is expected to accelerate significantly in the early months of 2005.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking (a) to encourage primary care trusts to commission alternatives to drug treatments for depression and anxiety and (b) to encourage general practitioners to prescribe such alternatives. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The National Service Framework for mental health contains two standards for primary care mental health designed to support commissioning and delivery of effective care and treatment, including non-drug treatments.
In addition, the Department published guidance in 2001 "Treatment choice in psychological therapies and counselling" on the effective non-drug treatments for a range of conditions, including guidance specifically designed for primary care. The Department has also more recently published "Organising and Delivering Psychological Therapies" (July 2004) to provide more of an impetus for practitioners, providers and local commissioners to review and improve the delivery of psychological therapy services. Louis Appleby's report (December 2004) "NSF MHfive years on" sets out plans for the future direction of access to psychological therapies, which the National Institute for Mental Health in England will lead on.
To encourage GPs to prescribe and support alternatives to drug treatments the NHS Plan (2000) contained recommendations concerning the commissioning of 1,000 'graduate' primary health workers to support the delivery of effective psychological interventions for common mental disorders to be appointed by December 2004. The National Institute for Mental Health for England is also supporting primary care commissioners through their primary care mental health programme, and through their programme promoting choices for service users.
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