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Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answers 18 April and 5 June 2006]: The number of students graduating from dental courses that lead to registration with the General Dental Council, England from the academic year 2002/03 to 2004/05 is shown in the following table. This information is not available centrally prior to 2002-03. No higher education institutions in Cumbria offer pre-registration dental courses.
| Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) student record|
Mr. Touhig: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what financial assistance for travel is available to eligible patients travelling to private orthodontic clinic appointments after referral by an NHS dentist. 
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people aged (a) 17 years or under and (b) 18 years or over were registered with an NHS dentist in (i) England, (ii) each NHS region and (iii) each strategic health authority in each year since 1997; and what proportion each represents of the relevant age group. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Registration numbers for September in each of the years 1997 to 2005 have been placed in the Library for primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) together with England totals. Separate figures are shown for children aged 17 years or under and for adults aged 18 and over.
The registration figures for 1997 are not comparable with the figures for subsequent years because the 1997 data reflect the previous registration periods (24 months for adults and until the end of the following calendar year for children), while the later data mainly reflect the shorter registration period of 15 months. The introduction of personal dental services pilots in October 1998 and subsequent growth has affected the figures from September 1999 onwards; these changes affect comparisons over time. Registration rates are given for SHAs and for England. However, registration rates for PCTs are not available before 2001 because population estimates are not available.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the planned changes are in her Departments funding for (a) the National Drug Treatment Agency and (b) other forms of drug rehabilitation in each year from 2005-06 to 2008-09; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: Departmental funding for the National Treatment Agency for 2005-06 was £10,560,000. Funding for 2006-07 will be announced shortly. Decisions on funding for subsequent years have yet to be made.
Departmental funding for other forms of drug rehabilitation for 2005-06 such as the pooled drug treatment budget allocation was £299.4 million, which includes £22 million Home Office funding. This funding is to be used for the funding of treatment within each of the six treatment modalities, which are:
general practitioner prescribing;
day care; and
In addition, an estimated £208 million of mainstream expenditure was made available for drug treatment. Funding for 2006-07 will be announced shortly. Decisions on funding for subsequent years have yet to be made.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of whether primary care trusts have used referral centres as a
means of delaying GP referrals to consultants during the current financial year; 
(3) what estimate she has made of how many patients have been affected by the practice of primary care trusts using referral centres as a means of delaying GP referrals to consultants during the 2005-06 financial year; 
(4) what plans she has to correct any potential error in waiting time statistics as a result of uncounted delays in the time taken for GP referrals to be passed on from referral centres run by some primary care trusts, with particular reference to North Somerset. 
Caroline Flint: No such estimate or assessment has been made centrally. The Department is quite clear in that referrals to community-based clinical assessment services, and other such centres, should happen only where it adds genuine clinical value for patients. Where they add clinical benefits and are properly integrated as part of the wider primary care health team, such services have a real potential to benefit patients by ensuring that they see the most appropriate clinician in the most convenient setting.
The Department is working closely with Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire strategic health authority to ensure that waiting times of patients referred through North Somerset primary care trusts referral management centre are reported appropriately.
The Department recognises however, that guidance on waiting list reporting is complex, especially in light of changing referral practices, choice, and the 18-week pathway. We therefore intend to work closely with the Royal College of General Practitioners and other professional bodies to develop clear guidance on the role and appropriate use of clinical assessment services and other similar services within the national health service.
Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance she has given to (a) primary care trusts and (b) general practitioner practices on the provision of funding to patient groups lobbying for development in the greenbelt; 
Ms Rosie Winterton:
The guidance on town planning matters for all national health service organisations is provided in the Department of Health publication Estatecodeessential guidance on estates and facilities management. The NHS estate is subject to all town and country planning legislation and guidance. Under these provisions, a NHS organisation is able to put forward a detailed application to a
planning authority for the development of greenbelt land for new healthcare facilities where this is considered the most appropriate site. The planning authority will assess the proposal in accordance with the relevant statutory provisions.
Primary care trusts (PCTs) are required by statute to operate within resource limits (revenue and capital) set by the Department as part of PCTs funding allocations. PCTs may use their revenue resources for any revenue expenditure permitted in law. As regards the provision of funding to patient groups lobbying for development in the green belt, no departmental guidance or policy has been issued in relation to contracts with general practitioners. However, these practitioners are able to spend their own contract income on patient groups, should they consider this beneficial to their practice.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are at the early stages of considering options to develop guidance on improving the take-up of health and social care services amongst excluded older people. At this developmental stage, we are unable to provide any details regarding timescales and plans.
Caroline Flint: Up to March 2006, the United Kingdom Government have distributed a total of £39,787,617 via the Macfarlane and Eileen Trusts, to those who contracted HIV infection from blood transfusions or from treatment with blood products.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: It is for councils to decide whether and how to set charges for non-residential social services. The legal basis is that charges generally should be reasonable' and that no one should be asked to pay more than they reasonably can. This position contrasts with that applying to charges for residential care, where regulations prescribe a national means test, which councils must follow.
The Department issued statutory guidance, Fairer Charging Policies for Home Care and other non-residential Social ServicesGuidance for Councils with Social Services Responsibilities, which is available
in the Library, to all local councils in November 2001. It was amended in September 2003 to reflect the introduction of pension credits. It does not seek to change councils power to charge, or not, for these services. It is intended to ensure that charges generally should be reasonable and that no one should be asked to pay more than they reasonably can.
The guidance aims to ensure in particular that service users on low incomes are protected from charging and that any charges levied on disability benefits are subject to an assessment of disability costs, to ensure their reasonableness. Councils are required to ensure that charges do not put any users' incomes below basic income support levels or the guarantee credit of pension credit, plus a buffer of 25 per cent. This can lead to real improvements in the position of many users, who will cease to pay charges or pay a smaller charge.
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many residents of the London borough of Bexley received kidney dialysis treatment at hospitals outside the borough in the last period for which figures are available. 
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on (a) public relations, (b) health consultancy, (c) planning consultancy and (d) hospitality and other areas in connection with the South West London NHS better healthcare closer to home programme. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department commissioned the Princes Foundation to undertake an inquiry by design for the NHS better healthcare closer to home project and contributed funding of £60,000. All other work, as specified, was commissioned by the local national health service. Information on this is not held by the Department; it is a matter for the local NHS.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Since publication of the national service framework for long-term conditions, the Department has co-ordinated a range of activity to help local health and social care organisations take forward implementation of the NSF. This includes:
working with key national health service, social care, voluntary and independent sector stakeholders, as well as
service users and carers, to identify and address key issues in neurological services and the stakeholders role in implementation;
ensuring that other key delivery programmes, most especially the White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say and the long-term conditions strategy help deliver key NSF objectives; and
work with the Care Services Improvement Partnership to promote implementation of the NSF through a co-ordinated work programme, including regional workshops, a web-based getting started pack and self-assessment tool for services.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which (a) organisations and (b) individuals (i) she, (ii) her Ministers and (iii) her officials have met to discuss the national framework for NHS continuing healthcare in the last 12 months; on what date the meetings took place; and what the content of each meeting was. 
The Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet (Dr. Ladyman) met with the Ombudsman specifically to discuss continuing care, and the subject will have come up in numerous visits and meetings. I have met with local authority representatives and also with the Social Care Institute for Excellence, the General Social Care Council and Turning Point when the subject of continuing care was raised.
Officials have studied the evidence given to the Health Committee inquiry on continuing care. Regular meetings take place with staff from the Ombudsmans office to ensure their full participation and involvement in the development of the national framework.
Meetings and/or discussions have also occurred with numerous organisations, members of the public, researchers and academics, including the Royal College of Nursing, Help the Aged, Age Concern, the Alzheimers Society and the Long Term Medical Conditions Alliance.
Officials have also had contact with these bodies, and with many other voluntary organisations and professional bodies including the English Community Care Association, Leonard Cheshire, Carers UK, POhWER, the British Medical Association, the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service, the ADSS and the LGA, Radar, Headway, the Neurological Alliance, Scope, the National Care Forum, the National Centre for Independent Living, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations and the National Care Homes Association. Many of these attended the stakeholder summit that was held on 21 July 2005 to share progress, and to gain contributions in from organisations with patients and service users, carer networks and professional organisations.
An electronic discussion forum has been established for regular communication and through which staff from across the health and social care community and wider stakeholder groups can contribute to specific parts of the framework.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many items of NHS equipment she estimates were not returned to NHS trusts after a patient had used them in aiding their recovery in each of the last five years; 
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