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Jim Fitzpatrick: This is an operational matter for which Royal Mail has direct responsibility. I have therefore asked the chief executive of Royal Mail, Adam Crozier, to provide a direct reply to my hon. Friend.
However, as a result of the White Paper Your health, your care, your say, there are a number of
programmes and initiatives underway to encourage people to improve their health and to improve their health knowledge. These programs and initiatives should help reduce incidence, by helping people to lead healthier lives and make healthier life choices.
An important part of reducing mortality from cancer is early detection and we are working with the healthy communities collaborative, part of the improvement foundation, to test locally developed approaches to raising awareness of cancer symptoms in local communities, including black and minority ethnic communities. We would hope that if a person developed symptoms that may be cancer, that they would recognise the symptoms as abnormal and seek medical advice.
The NHS Cancer Plan sets out our strategy for improving cancer services for all patients and we have seen significant improvements in the management and provision of cancer services for all cancer patients, regardless of their ethnicity. The plan noted the need to provide patients with culturally sensitive information.
As announced in November 2006, by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health, the Cancer Reform Strategy will build on the success of the NHS Cancer Plan and will look at ways that we can improve awareness of cancer, the early detection of cancer and patient experience.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has made to Cumbria Primary Care Trust prior to its announcement that no community hospitals within Cumbria will close. 
Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent by her Department in the last five years on providing information to parents on preventing tooth decay in children. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Oral health promotion can take the form of educational and awareness campaigns aimed at population groups, or personal information and advice given by dentists, hygienists or other members of primary and community dental teams in the course of examining or treating individual patients.
Information on local national health service oral health promotion campaigns is not collected centrally although over the period 2003 to 2006 the Department contributed £1.1 million to pilot the Brushing for Life scheme intended to get families with young children into the habit of brushing their teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste.
It is also not possible to quantify what proportion of the activity supported by the £2.2 billion gross budget in 2005-06 for NHS primary dental care services contributed to raising awareness of oral hygiene and the prevention of dental disease. One of the Governments objectives in introducing from April 2006 local commissioning arrangements for primary dental care services and changing the basis of remuneration for dental practices away from item of service fees was to give dentists more scope to focus on preventative care. Primary care trusts are also now required to provide oral health promotion programmes to the extent that they consider it necessary to meet all reasonable requirements within their areas. To assist them, we published an oral health plan for England Choosing Better Oral Health in November 2005.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment she has made on the level of access to NHS dentistry in (a) Portsmouth, (b) Hampshire and (c) England; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Information Centre for health and social care publishes quarterly data on the number of patients receiving care or treatment from national health service dental services in the previous 24 months.
Information is held at primary care trust (PCT), strategic health authority (SHA) and England level. The data for the 24-month periods ending March, June and September 2006 for England and the then existing PCTs within the geographical areas of Portsmouth and Hampshire are provided in the following table. Information could be provided in the exact form requested for Portsmouth and Hampshire only at disproportionate cost.
|Number of patients seen in the two years ending 31 March, 30 June and 30 September 2006 (including orthodontic patients) in England and the specified PCTs|
|31 March 2006||30 June 2006||30 September 2006|
|Number||Per 1,000 population||Number||Per 1,000 population||Number||Per 1,000 population|
1. PCT boundaries are as at 30 September 2006. The Information Centre will publish information on patients seen in the 24 month periods ending 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December 2006 by the new PCT boundaries (PCT boundaries as at 1 October 2006) on 23 March 2007.
2. Portsmouth City Teaching PCT remains a PCT after 1 October 2006. The other PCTs listed are those that now form Hampshire PCT as a result of the 1 October 2006 PCT boundary changes.
3. Patients have been identified by using surname, first initial, gender and date of birth. Each unique patient ID is normally assigned to the dental contract (and therefore PCT) against which the most recent claim for routine treatment was recorded in the 24 month period.
4. The information shows number of patients seen by dentists and the location in which these patients were seen. It does not show the patients home address. Most patients live within the PCT area in which they receive primary care dental services but some will attend a dentist further afield (near work for example).
5. The count of patient IDs is a robust statistical indicator of the overall level of patient involvement with NHS primary dental care. As with the previous registration system there will be some duplications and omissions. Patients will be omitted if two or more share the same surname, initial, sex and date of birth. Patients may be counted twice if they have two or more episodes of care and their name is misspelled or changed (for example on marriage) between those episodes of care. The risk of duplication increases if the episodes of care are at different practices.
6. None of the above factors is likely to affect the overall count by more than one or two percent. but at a PCT level there may be local demographic factors which make the local total more susceptible, e.g. a high proportion of women changing names after marriage, a local concentration of surnames prone to be misspelled, and or a transient patient base.
The Information Centre for health and social care
NHS Business Services Authority (BSA)
Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she plans to take to review dental manpower in England; and what mechanisms she plans to put in place to satisfy dental manpower needs over the next five years. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Report of the Primary Care Dental Workforce Review published in 2004 identified a shortage of dentists to which the Department responded with two major initiatives. Through the Project 1000 campaign, the Department supported the national health service in recruiting the equivalent of 1,453 additional whole time dentists including some 500 overseas dentists. For the longer term, the Department increased the number of undergraduate training places in English dental schools by 170, a 25 per cent. increase in capacity. The first cohort of students to take these additional places will graduate in 2009 by when there will have been three years experience of the devolution of the commissioning of primary care dentistry to primary care trusts (PCTs). As part of these new arrangements, PCTs are responsible for assessing local needs and commissioning services to reflect these needs. The Department will work with the NHS to allow local need assessments and commissioning plans to feed into long term work force planning at national level.
Ms Rosie Winterton: A table listing the primary dental service resource allocations for 2006-07 for all primary care trusts (PCTs) in England as at 31 July 2006 is available in the Library. This set out the net allocations awarded to PCTs and the assumed gross budgets based on illustrative assumptions about levels of patient charge income for each PCT. Strategic health authorities agreed with their PCTs locally how these allocations would be redistributed within the new PCT areas that took effect from 1 October 2006.
It is for PCTs to monitor and manage patient charge revenue locally in the context of managing their overall net financial commitments. The Department is not in a position to make a reliable estimate of patient charge revenue at national level ahead of receiving final outturn data for the full financial year. The Information Centre for health and social care will be publishing information on income from dental patient charges in due course.
Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dental schools provide training for dentists in England; and how many places were offered by each dental school in each year since 1990. 
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