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7 Feb 2006 : Column 1147W—continued

Day Case Procedures

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average cost of a hospital day case procedure was in each health trust in the Province in 2004–05. [49405]

Mr. Woodward: The information requested is not yet available. I will write to the hon. Lady with the information as soon as it is available and place a copy in the Library.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many day case procedures were conducted in 2004–05 in each health trust in the Province. [49408]

Mr. Woodward: The number of day case procedures 1 conducted at each health trust in Northern Ireland in 2004–05 are shown in the following table:
Number of day case procedures(35) carried out in surgical specialties by health trust for the year 2004–05

Mater Infirmorum7,309
Belfast City6,258
Royal Group25,910
Green Park3,575
Down Lisburn6,705
Craigavon Group9,721
Newry and Mourne3,542
Sperrin Lakeland4,510

(35) For the purposes of this question a day case procedure has been taken to mean a procedure undertaken within a surgical specialty, where the patient did not require an overnight stay.
Hospital Inpatient System


Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to increase in-patient dental surgery provision in Northern Ireland for individuals with complex needs. [49400]

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Mr. Woodward: The vast majority of patients with complex needs requiring dental treatment are treated as out-patients, either in a primary care setting or in a day procedure unit within a secondary care setting. A small number of these patients require to be treated as in-patients and across Northern Ireland as a whole, in-patient provision is considered adequate. There have been problems experienced in the Eastern Health and Social Services Board (EHSSB) recently in identifying adequate in-patient services for learning disabled patients requiring dental treatment under general anaesthetic. The Board has assured the Department that it will improve the in-patient provision available to patients from their area by identifying additional sessions in their area and, if necessary, securing in-patient services from the other Boards.

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on access to NHS dentists in the Newry and Kilkeel area. [49320]

Mr. Woodward: I am satisfied with the level of dental provision in the Newry and Kilkeel area both in terms of availability and accessibility. The health service provides a full range of dental services through general dental practitioners, the community dental service and the hospital dental service. No one in that area should be unable to obtain health service dental treatment.

General dental practitioners are the main providers of dental services in Northern Ireland. There is approximately one general dental practitioner for every 2,400 people in Northern Ireland. This compares to one practitioner for every 2,773 people in England, Scotland and Wales.

The full range of dental services they provide is supplemented by the community dental service, operating under the control of health and social services trusts, which has a specific role in treating patients with learning difficulties and screening school children. The community dental service also acts as a 'safety net' in circumstances where the services of a general dental practitioner cannot be obtained. The hospital dental service provides specialist dental services.

Departmental Expenditure

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many widescreen televisions have been purchased by his Department for use in London Headquarters in each of the last five years; and what the cost was in each year. [39146]

Mr. Hain: The Northern Ireland Office has not purchased any wide screen televisions for its London Headquarters in the last five years.

Doctors (National Contract)

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether staff grade and associate specialist doctors in the Province will be covered by a national contract for their grades. [49319]

Mr. Woodward: The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is currently not part of the formal negotiation process on a new contract for these doctors. However, officials from the Department attend
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the negotiating meetings in an observer status. It is too early to say what the outcome of the negotiations will be and how it may impact in Northern Ireland.

Drug Treatment

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to extend services for the treatment of intravenous drug users in the Province. [49401]

Mr. Woodward: There are no current plans to extend services for the treatment of intravenous drug users. However the form, format and level of current services continue to be assessed, and the newly launched consultation document New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs in Northern Ireland 2006–2011 does contain proposals in respect of the commissioning and provision of such services.

East Londonderry (Employment)

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken by Invest Northern Ireland to ensure viable long-term employment opportunities are being introduced to the East Londonderry constituency. [48530]

Angela E. Smith: Since it was set up in 2002, Invest NI has made offers of assistance in the constituency totalling £22 million which will lead to planned total investment in client companies of £61 million; this includes assistance towards a major investment by Seagate at its Limavady plant, which along with a further new investment at Seagate's Londonderry facility will provide 300 new jobs for the area. The agency has also assisted the establishment of over 700 new businesses in the constituency which have the potential to create more than 1,200 new jobs.

Invest NI is currently implementing an Action Plan for the North West of Northern Ireland, including the East Londonderry constituency. This Plan includes a series of actions to address constraints that are inhibiting business growth in the area. It includes actions to improve the area's business infrastructure, to improve levels of innovation and enterprise in local businesses, to increase the rate of new businesses and to attract inward investment to the area.

Invest NI is firmly focused on assisting its client companies become more competitive. In pursuing this objective, the agency's priorities are to help them become more entrepreneurial and innovative and more capable of operating in export markets. Ultimately, success in these areas will lead to more viable, long-term employment opportunities.

Invest NI is committed to maximising the economic development prospects for the East Londonderry constituency and opened an office in Coleraine during 2003 to help strengthen its links with local business interests.

Education (Admissions)

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many of the responses to the
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recent consultation on new post-primary admissions criteria for Northern Ireland supported the retention of academic selection. [49357]

Angela E. Smith: In January 2004 the Government decided that academic selection in Northern Ireland would end after 2008. The consultation on new admission arrangements for post-primary schools invited comments on options for new admission arrangements which would operate following implementation of the Government's decision. The detailed analysis of the responses received focused on the strength of arguments put forward in support of, or against, the options described within the consultation document, and did not take the form of a statistical analysis of views received.

Energy Prices

Dr. McCrea: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent representations he has received from (a) industry and (b) voluntary group representatives in Northern Ireland on energy prices. [48283]

Angela E. Smith: Representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses, the Confederation of British Industry (Northern Ireland) and the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland have expressed ongoing concern about high energy prices in Northern Ireland at meetings with myself and officials in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Specific representations have been received by my colleague the Minister with responsibility for the Department for Social Development from National Energy Action (Northern Ireland), the Transport and General Workers' Union and the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland on the adverse impact that the high energy prices have on the level of fuel poverty in Northern Ireland. In addition, the Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Advisory Group has reported the outcome of its discussions on energy prices to the Minister for Social Development.

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