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Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to lay before the House the (a) national health service (dental charges) regulations 2006, (b) national health service (general dental services contracts) regulations 2006 and (c) national health service (personal dental services arrangements) regulations 2006. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 31 October 2005]: The Department is currently considering the timetable for recruiting a new chief dental officer. The recruitment process will follow the usual Department procedures when recruiting externally. Barry Cockcroft, the deputy chief dental officer, is currently acting
Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons new personal dental service (PDS) arrangements are being introduced under the draft new general dental services contract; and whether dentists applying for the previous PDS contract were informed that they would have to renegotiate it for a new one in 2006. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 31 October 2005]: The new personal dental services (PDS) agreements will be introduced under the proposed national health service (personal dental services agreements) regulations. Separate but similar regulations, the proposed national health service (general dental services contracts) regulations will govern general dental services.
The new PDS regulations enable the current pilot PDS arrangements to be made permanent and a matter for local rather than national negotiation. They will also enable the proposed new three band system of patient charges to apply in PDS.
Sir Paul Beresford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what a unit of dental activity refers to in the context of dental services contracts; and how this differs from the previous fee per item way of working for general dental practitioners. 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 31 October 2005]: 'Units of dental activity' refers to courses of treatment weighted into three bands to reflect their relative average complexity. Units of dental activity will make up the overall activity level required by an individual dental contractor in return for an agreed annual contract value, to be agreed between the dentist and the primary care trust.
The proposed new banded dental charges system will provide the basis for monitoring activity under general dental service (GDS) contracts and personal dental service (PDS) agreements in terms of banded courses of treatment. Where a banded course of treatment is provided, the contractor will provide the number of units of dental activity set out in table 1. In the case of a charge exempt course of treatment, the contractor will provide the number of units of dental activity specified in table 2.
|Type of course of treatment||Units of dental activity provided|
|Band 1 course of treatment (excluding urgent treatment)||1.0|
|Band 1 course of treatment (urgent treatment only)||1.2|
|Band 2 course of treatment||3.0|
|Band 3 course of treatment||12.0|
|Type of charge exempt course of treatment||Units of dental activity provided|
|Issue of a prescription||0.75|
|Repair of a dental appliance (denture)||1.0|
|Repair of a dental appliance (bridge)||1.2|
|Removal of sutures||1.0|
|Arrest of bleeding||1.2|
The new system will differ from the current fee per item system, where dentists' remuneration is based on each individual treatmenta filling, a crown, etc. The evidence of PDS pilots, where remuneration is not based on fee per item, is that dentists provide fewer and simpler interventions within each course of treatment. This allows dentists to spend more time with patients, adopt a more preventive approach to patient care and better manage their work load.
Ms Rosie Winterton: National health service dentists are able to undertake root canal treatment under existing regulations and will continue to be able to provide the treatment under the new contractual arrangements from 1 April 2006.
In May 2004, we announced proposals for implementing a scheme for dentists with special interests initially in minor oral surgery, orthodontics, endodontics and periodontics. Under this scheme, which will shortly be finalised, primary care trusts will be able to contract with dentists who have acquired skills in these specialised areas. This should provide a basis for increasing the availability of specialist treatment in a primary care setting.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which parts of her Department's estate will not be covered by the commitments set out in the Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estate. 
Caroline Flint: The requirements of the Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estate cover all departmental buildings. However, in line with guidance provided as part of the framework, activity is focused on principal buildings where the Department has control of facilities.
An online assessment tool has been provided for staff to assess their literacy and numeracy skills and needs. The Department's intranet offers guidance on ways to improve basic skills and the open learning centre provides materials on grammar,
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punctuation, spelling and working with numbers. The Department also provides day release for all staff studying to improve their basic skills.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what reduction there has been in (a) road transport vehicle carbon dioxide emissions and (b) single occupancy car commuting from her Department against a baseline year of (i) 200304 and (ii) 200405. 
Caroline Flint: The Department uses a number of options for the provision of vehicles, which are not administered by the Department directly. We therefore currently have no direct information on carbon dioxide emissions. However, a programme to install video conferencing facilities in many of the Department's buildings has reduced the need for official travel.
We do not have any means of calculating single occupancy commuting. However, we have gradually reduced the number of car parking spaces available in staff car parks, in many instances replacing them with cycle racks. We are also investigating the possibility of introducing a car sharing scheme in our Leeds office.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 which (a) have been and (b) have not been implemented. 
Mr. Byrne: The years since 1986 have seen various initiatives and policy developments to advocacy and it is not clear that the 1986 Act as drafted would provide the best framework for advocacy services. For example, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 creates a new safeguard, the independent mental capacity advocate service. This will give extra protection to the most vulnerable people who lack capacity.
In March 2005, a review by the National Director of Learning Disabilities showed that there have been improvements in self-advocacy for people with learning disabilities and more councils are giving money to self-advocacy.
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