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28 Mar 2006 : Column 954W—continued

Community Hospitals

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her Department's definition is of a community hospital in a rural area. [59756]

Mr. Byrne: Community hospitals encompass a wide range of institutions, which provide a diverse number of health and social care services, which means they are difficult to define. However, the White Paper, Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: a new Direction for Community Services" defines a community hospital as:

No distinction is made over whether a community hospital is situated within a rural or urban location.

Continuing Care (Restitution Process)

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she took to ascertain that all strategic health authorities undertook advertising and publicity in order to raise awareness of the restitution process, as stated on page 17 of the Government's response to the Health Select Committee's Report on Continuing Care. [60516]

Mr. Byrne: Strategic health authorities undertook a programme of publicity which they considered reasonable to inform the public on a local basis. The
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decision as to the precise nature of the publicity policy rested with the individual strategic health authority, so that it might be tailored to existing regional awareness.


Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the ratio of applicants to places on dentistry degree courses was in 2004–05; and if she will make a statement. [45414]

Bill Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

We are funding the biggest expansion of dental education since the inception of the NHS. As I informed the House on 26 January 2006, we are increasing training places for dentists by over 25 per cent. from 2004–05 to provide around 840 places in England from 2005–06. Figures from UCAS, showing the ratio between applicants and acceptances for those students starting dentistry courses in the UK in autumn 2004, are shown in the table.
Applicants and acceptances(44) via UCAS to full-time undergraduate courses in pre-clinical dentistryAutumn 2004 entry

Applicants and acceptances
Ratio of applicants to acceptances2.1

(44) Covers all applicants and acceptances from UK and overseas students. The applicant figures are for students whose preferred subject was dentistry (i.e. dentistry was the subject for which they made the most applications).
Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS)

Early figures for 2006 entry show that a total of 2,911 students had applied for dentistry courses by the advisory deadline of mid-October, compared to 2,938 at the same point in the previous year. Not all of these students will have applied for dentistry as their preferred subject, so these numbers are not directly comparable with those in the table.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) adults and (b) children on average were registered with an NHS dentist in West Chelmsford constituency in (i) 2000 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available. [61049]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is shown in the table.
General dental services and personal dental services: number of adults and children registered with a national health service dentist in West Chelmsford constituency as at 30 September in each specified year


Dental Practice Board

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dentists in West Chelmsford constituency on average were registered to carry out NHS work in (a) 2000 and (b) the latest year for which figures are available. [61050]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: As of 30 September 2005, there were 59 national health service dentists with a general dental services (GDS) or personal dental services (PDS) contract within West Chelmsford parliamentary constituency. The corresponding figure for 30 September 2000 was 44.

A dentist with a GDS or PDS contract may provide as little or as much NHS treatment as he or she chooses or has agreed with their primary care trust. Information concerning the amount of time dedicated to NHS work by individual GDS or PDS dentists is not centrally available.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent on NHS general dental services in the Mid Essex Hospital Trust area in (a) cash and (b) real terms in (i) 2000 and (ii) the latest year for which figures are available. [61156]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not held centrally.

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated average annual cost to the NHS is expected to be of a dentist operating under the new contract; whether an equivalent sum will be available to primary care trusts in respect of each NHS dentist who declines to register for NHS care under the new contract; and whether such funds will be restricted to the provision of alternative dental services. [61612]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 27 March 2006]: The national health service payments, including revenue from patient charges, made to dentists providing general dental services (GDS) from 1 April 2006 will be based largely on the dentist's gross NHS earnings during the reference period October 2004 to September 2005, uplifted to 2006–07 prices. The estimated average gross NHS earnings in 2005–06 for GDS dentists with a reasonable NHS commitment are £159,600.

Where a dentist chooses not to take up a new GDS contract, the primary care trust (PCT) will use the funding associated with that contract to re-commission dental services from other providers. The funding released in this way will not necessarily be equivalent to the average gross earnings for NHS dentists, but rather will reflect the previous gross earnings of the dentist in question.

PCTs have been given dedicated, devolved budgets for commissioning dental services, so that, where a dentist ceases to provide NHS services in their area (or provides a reduced level of service), the resources stay with the PCT to be re-invested in other dental services.
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Digital Hearing Aids

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the average waiting time is for people to receive a digital hearing aid from the national health service in (a) England and (b) Beverley and Holderness; and if she will make a statement; [59581]

(2) what plans she has to reduce waiting times for receiving a digital hearing aid; and if she will make a statement; [59582]

(3) how many people are waiting to receive a digital hearing aid in (a) England and (b) Beverley and Holderness; and if she will make a statement; [59583]

(4) what assessment she has made of the availability of digital hearing aids in (a) England and (b) Beverley and Holderness; and if she will make a statement. [59584]

Mr. Byrne: Information on waiting lists and times for digital hearing aids are not centrally collected.

The Department will publish principles and definitions for the 18-week maximum wait in the spring. Since January 2006, the Department has been collecting waiting times for pure tone audiometry, although, as with many new data collections, it may take a number of months of collection before the data is of sufficient quality to be publishable.

Several initiatives have been introduced through the modernising hearing aid services programme to increase capacity to deliver audiology services in England. These are the national framework contract (public private partnership) to bring in additional independent sector capacity, the development of a new degree to help to address the shortage of audiologists and the introduction of Hearing Direct which provides follow-up care and advice for some hearing aid users.

From April 2005, the 164 National Hearing Service audiology departments have been able to routinely assess for and fit digital hearing aids. It is for primary care trusts to ensure their local population benefits from the modernised services.

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