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28 Oct 2005 : Column 573W—continued

Contraception and Abortion Services

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to commission research into economic evaluation strategies for contraception and abortion services. [18460]

Caroline Flint: My Department will shortly be issuing guidance to primary care trusts entitled, Health Economics of Sexual Health: A Guide for Commissioning and Planning". This guidance highlights that there is evidence and consensus that investment in sexual health interventions is good value for money and in many cases, including provision of contraception and early access to abortion services, cost saving. These conclusions are supported by a recent document The Economics of Sexual Health" published by the Family Planning Association.
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Critical Care Hospital (Merton)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she has taken to ensure that she does not fetter her discretion in respect of the call in by the London borough of Merton concerning the siting of a critical care hospital. [19976]

Jane Kennedy: The referral to the Secretary of State for Health of the decision to site the future critical care hospital, which will replace Epsom and St. Helier, at Sutton, by Merton council was made in March.

The referral is being considered by the Secretary of State for Health and it would be inappropriate to comment in advance of this decision.

The Secretary of State for Health is considering all relevant and appropriate evidence in relation to the Office of Surveillance Commissioners referral in coming to her decision.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1)if she will extend the time limit for signing the new NHS dental contracts beyond 1 January 2006 to allow time for evaluation of the new contract conditions; and if she will make a statement; [19737]

(2) how many NHS dental practices had signed up to the new NHS dental contract as at 15 October; and if she will make a statement. [19738]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Dental practices cannot yet sign up to the new types of dental contract because the relevant regulations have not yet been laid before the Houses of Parliament. We expect these regulations to be laid by the end of the year. We expect that dentists will be able to agree a new dental contract with their primary care trust from January 2006 onwards.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to ring-fence the budget for dentistry to be administered by local primary care trusts. [20471]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Recent guidance issued by the Department on new dental contracts explained that the Department is looking at options to agree how dental budgets will be monitored to ensure existing investment, uprated for 2006–07 prices, in national health service dentistry is maintained.

Primary care trusts may also contribute additional resources from their general allocation to expand overall funding for dentistry.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will reassess the budget for the provision of NHS dentistry in Portsmouth against assessed demand for dental services. [20472]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Resources for primary care dentistry will be devolved to individual primary care trusts (PCTs) from 2006–07. Details of PCTs' dental allocations are expected to be available by the end of November.

Final allocations to PCTs should be based on an equitable distribution of the available resources, taking account of the current level of service provision in each area.
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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make it her policy not to implement the new contract for dentists until agreement on it is reached with the British Dental Association; [20473]

(2) what consultation has taken place between her Department and dentists on the proposed new contract; what plans she has for pilot studies before any change of contract; and if she will make a statement. [20474]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government intend to implement the new types of dental contracts from April 2006. The draft regulations on patients' dental charges were released for 12-week consultation, ending on 30 September. The draft regulations on the new dental contracts were released for comment during August and September.

The new types of contracts are closely modelled on the new ways of working that have been piloted under personal dental services agreements in operation since 1998. These agreements now cover over 30 per cent. of dentists. These new contracts will be agreed locally between primary care trusts and dentists. The draft regulations governing these local contracts have been designed to address long standing concerns of the British Dental Association and dentists about the current general dental services remuneration system.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list those dentists in (a) Portsmouth and (b) south east Hampshire who are accepting NHS patients. [20475]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Information on which practices are currently taking on new national health service patients is not centrally collected. This information should be available from local primary care trusts or by contacting NHS Direct.

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average retention rate of NHS dentists within the Lancaster and Wyre constituency was in each of the past 10 years. [20481]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Average retention rate data is not readily available. The following table shows dentists who have left the national health service during each specific year as a percentage of total dentists as at 31 December each year within the Lancaster and Wyre constituency. However, these figures include dentists who leave for a variety of reasons, including retirements, career breaks and maternity leave.
Dentists who have left the NHS, 1997–2004

Percentage of leavers to dentists

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the impact on the registration status of existing NHS patients of the April 2006 dentistry reforms will be; and if she will make a statement. [20620]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: Dentists' remuneration, from April 2006, will not be linked to the numbers of patients registered. However, we made clear in recent guidance that the new contracts are not designed to cut across current arrangements for patients to register with a practice and expect to receive ongoing, clinically appropriate care and treatment from that practice, bearing in mind the new National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on clinical recall intervals.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 21 July 2005, Official Report, column 2149W, on dentistry, how many additional NHS dental patient registrations she expects the additional resources allocated by her Department in 2004–05 to 2007–08 to produce in each (a) strategic health authority and (b) primary care trust in each year; and how many people had been registered with an NHS dentist each year since 1997 as at 31 March. [18861]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The additional resources have been used to support the recruitment of 1,000 dentists by the end of October 2005, measured in whole time dentists recruited, and to support a range of other local improvements in dental services. A range of indicators have been used locally to gauge the impact on access to services.

No national targets have been set for registrations in 2000–07 or 2007–08. In keeping with National Standards, Local Action", the dental reforms being introduced in April 2006 devolve responsibility for localcommissioning to primary care trusts and it will be for local health communities to agree appropriate performance measures.

Information on the number of patients registered with a national health service dentist each year since 1997, as at 31 March, has been placed in the Library.

Departmental Staff

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the rates of employee absence in her Department have been in each year since 1997. [21026]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the figures contained in the annual report Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service" published by the Cabinet Office. Table A of the report gives details of both the average working days absence per staff year and the number of staff years on which that calculation is based on. The most recent report for the calendar year 2003 was published on 1 November 2004, copies of which are available in the Library. This report and those for 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 are available on the Cabinet Office website at: the_civil_service/conditions_of_service/occupational_ health/publications/index.asp.

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many employees have been dismissed from her Department in each of the last five years. [19725]

Jane Kennedy: Over the last five years, the number of staff who have been dismissed by the Department, for either reasons of inefficiency or discipline are shown in the table.
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Year of dismissal(5)Total
Grand total15

(5)From 1 October to 30 September.

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