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14 Jun 2005 : Column 323W—continued

MRI Scans

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the most recent figures are for average waiting times for MRI scans in Northern Ireland. [1416]

Mr. Woodward: The information requested is not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent estimate he has made of the (a) waiting times and (b) number of patients waiting for an MRI scan at the (i) Ulster hospital, Dundonald and (ii) Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast. [1417]

Mr. Woodward: Data supplied by (i) Ulster hospital, Dundonald and (ii) Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast showing the latest available information on waiting times/lists for MRI scans is provided as follows.

NHS Dentistry

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many dentists were taking new NHS patients in Northern Ireland at the end of 2004. [2802]

Mr. Woodward: During the quarter ending December 2004, 654 dentists in Northern Ireland registered new patients for treatment under the NHS, that is, patients who had not been registered with them at the end of the previous quarter. These registrations may have resulted from patients moving between dentists or may have been re-registration of patients who have not attended the dentist for some time and whose registrations will therefore have expired. Registrations may also have been due to registering for the first time, for example, children or people coming to reside in Northern Ireland.

NHS Information Technology Systems

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who was instructed by the Eastern Health Board to produce a business case regarding
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implementing new information technology systems; when this instruction was given; what costs have been incurred; and if he will make a statement on progress. [1400]

Mr. Woodward: The information is not available in the form requested.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans there are to improve information technology within the NHS in the Province. [1401]

Mr. Woodward: The Health and Personal Social Services (HPSS) Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy, published in March 2005, sets out the long term vision for the use of ICT in the HPSS. It outlines a framework of activities to develop ICT in support of service modernisation. The HPSS ICT Programme, developed to deliver the HPSS ICT Strategy, was formally launched in March 2005. This programme encompasses the projects and activities required to develop and roll out new and enhanced ICT systems and support structures over a 10 year period, focusing on new and improved systems for electronic care records, electronic care communications and electronic information.

Among the many activities identified, the HPSS ICT Programme aims to establish an electronic integrated record for each individual using community services by 2008, with electronic care records in use across the whole of the HPSS by 2010. Also by 2010, technology will be available to care professionals at the point of need, whether at remote locations or in clinics, hospitals or health centres. The programme will also introduce electronic transfer of pathology results and digital imaging which will enable early diagnosis. Electronic referral and booking systems as well as electronic prescribing will give patients more choice and convenience.

NHS Staff

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent by each health trust in the Province on temporary and locum staff in each of the last five years, broken down by profession. [1411]

Mr. Woodward: The information requested is provided as follows:
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Year to:£000
31 March 20008,665
31 March 200113,155
31 March 200216,837
31 March 200323,022
31 March 2004(33)30,857

(33) From 31 March 2004 temporary staff are also included in this expenditure total.

The figures provided in the table refer to expenditure classed as 'agency staff' in Health and Social Services Trust annual accounts. Only locum staff who are not placed on the payroll of the trust will be included in this category.

The information is not available centrally broken down by profession, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assistance is provided to sufferers of porphyria in the Province. [1420]

Mr. Woodward: Porphyria is not one single condition but a group of seven related disorders that can cause a variety of signs and symptoms. Most of the conditions are inherited but some may be acquired. The treatment provided to people with porphyria will depend on which type of porphyria a patient has and the severity of the condition. A patient may be seen by consultants from general medicine, chemical pathology, dermatology or a combination of these as appropriate. In addition, the medical genetics service can offer appropriate genetic advice and gene testing.

School Discipline

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what guidance is issued to teachers by his Department as to whether and when it is justifiable for a member of teaching staff to raise their voice when dealing with an unruly pupil or student. [2197]

Angela E. Smith: No specific guidance has been issued on this subject. The Department's publication Pastoral Care in Schools: Promoting Positive Behaviour", distributed to all teachers, contains advice on dealing with aggressive pupils and confrontational situations. The advice emphasises keeping the emotional temperature as low as possible and dealing with the situation calmly and quietly.

School Sport

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what target is set by his Department in relation to the weekly allocation of time for sport in schools in Northern Ireland; and what percentage of schools in each education and library board area currently meet that target. [2158]

Angela E. Smith: Physical Education is, and will remain, part of the statutory curriculum for all pupils from age 4 to age 16. My Department does not however specify the amount of time schools should spend on any particular subject. Schools themselves determine how much time is devoted to Physical Education in the
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curriculum, but they are encouraged to offer pupils at least two hours a week of Physical Education, including sport. My Department does not keep records relating to how much time individual schools allocate to PE.

Specialist Elective Surgery Units

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on progress on developing specialist elective surgery units in the Province. [1403]

Mr. Woodward: Developing Better Services (DBS) endorses the concept of specialist elective surgery units as a means of protecting planned surgery from the peaks of emergency treatment and care. In line with the ministerial announcement on DBS of February 2003, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has been working with the Health and Social Services Boards and Trusts to develop protected elective capacity across Northern Ireland. As specifically designated in the DBS announcement, protected elective units are now in place at Lagan Valley and South Tyrone Hospitals. Protected elective capacity has also been established at the Mater, Altnagelvin, Causeway and Erne Hospitals, and is planned for other locations.

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