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Mr. Bradshaw: The new general medical services contract introduced a number of steps to incentivise and improve access to general practice. New allocation and funding mechanisms such as the global sum, Quality and Outcomes Framework and enhanced services reward the work associated with each additional patient under new practice-based contracts. Therefore, every new additional patient registration attracts additional funding for each practice. In addition, substantial investment in primary care has enabled new and extended premises for general practices to increase their capacity and accept a greater number of patients to their lists.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department has taken to (a) clarify the rules on eligibility and (b) streamline the process for patients to register with a GP practice. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The current system of patient registration is relatively straightforward. However, the Department acknowledges that the current rules on eligibility to register for free primary medical services for foreign nationals are unclear and much is left to the discretion of individual general practitioners (GPs) and practices. The Department is undertaking a joint review of Access to the NHS by foreign nationals with the Home Office. The review is due to be completed shortly and any new proposals will then go out to public consultation.
Key information about all GP practices, including information on how to register, has also been made available via the NHS Choices website on www.nhs.uk. This service provides people with reliable and accessible information on GP practices to help them choose which a local practice that is likely to best meet their needs.
Mr. Bradshaw: Under the contractual arrangements, general practitioner practice lists are either open or closed. In England, as at October 2007, 2 per cent. of practices reported operating closed lists. These data are collected quarterly through the Primary Care Trust Primary Care Access Survey.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps have been taken to provide individuals with information on GP practices and their services since the publication of Our Health, Our Care, Our Say. 
The public are now able to access key information about all general practitioner (GP) practicesincluding the results of the patient survey,
practice opening times and performance against key quality indicators via the NHS Choices website on www.nhs.uk. This service provides people with reliable and accessible information on GP practices to help them choose which one is likely to best meet their needs.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) guidance and (b) rules have been set for existing GP practices which wish to bid to become alternative providers of medical services. 
Mr. Bradshaw: It is for primary care trusts (PCTs) to develop open and transparent tendering processes where all health care providers, including existing practices, voluntary and independent sector organisations, can bid to deliver primary medical care services under an alternative provider medical services (APMS) contract.
Mr. Bradshaw: There is no requirement for any general practitioner (GP) practice to extend their opening hours. Under proposals put to the BMAs General Practitioners Committee, the average GP practice which provides three hours extended opening per week could expect to receive around £19,000 per year, where they choose to provide such services to their patients. This would be funded by making more effective use of existing resources within the current GP contract arrangement. In addition, we have offered to invest an additional 1.5 per cent. increase through the GP contract, worth just over £100 million. This would be a further boost in investment, provide greater improvements for patients and is a good deal for GPs.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 10 December 2007, Official Report, column 309W, on Health and Social Care Information Centre, when the Information Centre began reviewing the information for which data should be made available in the future; which interested parties are contributing to the review; when he expects the review to conclude; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Information Centre for Health and Social Care is consulting with the Department and a range of other organisations on its products. The outcome and timing of this is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Information Centre for Health and Social Care.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance he has issued to primary care trusts on spending under the alternative providers of medical services budget to develop and expand existing primary care provision; 
Mr. Bradshaw: The £250 million access fund announced by Secretary of State (Alan Johnson) on 10 October will be devolved to primary care trusts (PCTs) to enable them to develop a general practitioner (GP) led health centre each and at least 100 new GP practices across the 50 PCTs with poorest provision. It will be for PCTs to design these services so that they reflect local health need and health care strategies.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) timetable has been set for and (b) geographical area will be covered by the initial phases of the alternative providers of medical services scheme. 
Mr. Bradshaw: During 2008-09 primary care trusts (PCTs) will undertake open and transparent procurements for new general practitioner (GP) practices and GP-led health centres. Every PCT in the country will procure on new health centre, however, only those 50 PCTs that have been identified as having the poorest provision will procure new GP practices. A table of these PCTs is shown as follows. The precise geographical locations of these services will be determined locally by PCTs based on their local needs assessment.
|PCTs with poorest provision (i.e. those with fewest primary care clinicians, lowest patient satisfaction with access and poorest health outcomes) where at least 100 new GP practices will be located|
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