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Mr. Woodward: The problem of patients failing to attend for an outpatient appointment is, at least in part, symptomatic of the very long time many of them have to wait. In the past patients here were given an appointment date months or even years in advance. To address this I recently announced a total redesign of the whole outpatient system and by March 2008 no patient will be waiting more than 13 weeks for an outpatient appointment following referral by his or her GP.
In the meantime, partial booking systems are already being implemented in all outpatient specialties to ensure that patients are given a choice of available appointment times and that no appointments are booked any more than six weeks in advance. Outpatient improvement managers are also being put in place in all trusts to ensure that services are more responsive to patients' needs.
Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent action has been taken to improve access to specialist drugs for patients with (a) relapsing and remitting and (b) primary progressive multiple sclerosis in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woodward: An additional £9 million has been provided over the last four years for specialist drug therapies, including disease modifying therapies for people with multiple sclerosis. A further £100,000 was made available from 200203 specifically to support the infrastructure for the provision of disease modifying therapies for MS. The number of people who currently have access to these drugs has increased from 442 in April 2003 to 579 at present.
It is for the health and social services boards, as commissioners of services, to prioritise how funding is used, taking into account the competing demands and pressures in their areas and the strategic objectives and priorities of my Department. This year, the boards will spend an estimated £4.7 million providing disease modifying treatment to patients with multiple sclerosis.
The Department remains committed to improving access to specialist drugs which offer the potential for significant improvements in patient care. Last November I indicated my intention to allocate an
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additional £9 million recurrently for hospital and specialist drugs in 200607, with a further £5 million in 200708. I will be making a further announcement about specialist drugs shortly.
Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in each of the four health board areas are waiting to receive MS drugs; what the waiting times were in each of the four health board areas from (a) general practitioner referral to first appointment with a hospital consultant and (b) first appointment until treatment was actually received in the last period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
|Health board of residence||Number waiting||Median waiting time band (month)|
|Northern Ireland total||156||68|
The Department remains committed to improving access to specialist drugs which offer the potential for significant improvement in patient care. Disease modifying treatments for people with multiple sclerosis have been available in Northern Ireland since the mid-1990s and some 579 people are currently receiving these drugs.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 14 December 2005, Official Report, column 2101W, on Orange Hall (Attacks), how many attacks were carried out in each month of 2005. 
|Month||Number of attacks|
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Government are taking to tackle organised crime in Northern Ireland; and what assessment he has made of the scale of this problem. 
Mr. Woodward: The Government are committed to tackling organised crime across the board, from whatever source. Through the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) the Government have brought together key law enforcement agencies in Northern Ireland to deliver a multi-agency, partnership response. The restructuring of the Task Force last year will further improve operational co-operation and strengthen the analytical focus on which this work is based.
The 2005 OCTF annual report has made clear that the overall levels of organised criminal activity remain high and criminal gangs are increasingly sophisticated and ruthless in the way they undertake their activities. The operational successes of the OCTF partner agencies continues to have a significant impact on top level organised crime gangs and I pay tribute to their on-going effectiveness and commitment.
Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent by his Department on police oversight arrangements in each year since the publication of the Patten report. 
Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent by (a) his Department and (b) the Northern Ireland Policing Board on the administration and running of district policing partnerships in Northern Ireland. 
The Northern Ireland Office is not responsible for spending on the administration and running of District Policing Partnerships in Northern Ireland. In accordance with the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 the Policing Board is required to make to the district councils a grant equal to three-quarters of
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the expenses reasonably incurred by the council in connection with the establishment of, or the exercise of functions by, a DPP.
The Policing Board has advised me that the total cost to the Policing Board of the administration and running costs in relation to the District Policing Partnerships from initial set up to the year ending 31 March 2005 was £7,283,000.
Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent by the Police Ombudsman's Office on (a) administration and (b) case work in each year since its formation. 
|Financial year||Case related expenditure(32)||Administration expenditure(33)|
|6 November 2000 to 31 March 2002|
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