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National Statistician: Appointment Process

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McKenzie of Luton: The recruitment of the next National Statistician will be carried out in accordance with standard Civil Service practice. Advertisements were placed in the 10 June edition of the Economist and the 12 June Sunday Times, with a deadline of 30 June. The recruitment process is being administered by the executive recruitment company Whitehead Mann. The appointment will be made by the Prime Minister following the recommendation of a selection panel, which has four members including an independent chair and only one government representative.

Network Rail

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: I refer the noble Lord to the departmental minute laid in the House by the Secretary of State for Transport on 25 July. This informs Parliament of changes to the contingent liabilities arising from government support for Network Rail's borrowing.

NHS Dentistry

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: Information on private working of National Health Service dentists is not routinely available.

The average annual payment in 2003–04 to General Dental Service (GDS) dentists was £150,000 to dentists with a reasonable commitment to the GDS. Dentists with a reasonable commitment are defined as dentists earning at least £57,300 in fees for treatments and patient capitation. Average expenses in 2003–04 for GDS dentists were estimated to be £83,300, resulting in an estimated average net income of £66,700— estimated to be £69,000 in 2004-05.

The payment figures cover both fees for treatments and patient capitation as well as other payments such as seniority payments and commitment payments and payments for maternity and sickness.

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Warner: The total cost of the Keeping in Touch scheme (KITs) from April 2004–March 2005 was £196,919.17, covering grants to KIT scheme members, salaries and administration costs. In 2004–05, 78 individual dentists returned to work, equating to 45 whole time equivalents.

The KIT scheme is aimed at United Kingdom dentists currently on a career break. It provides work shadowing opportunities, access to practical courses and a grant of £350 towards the cost of registration with the General Dental Council. The Returning to Dentistry campaign was aimed at dentists planning their return to dentistry and offers refresher training, work shadowing and advice on National Health Service administration. Both schemes offer access to a bursary of up to £4,000 to support resumption of NHS dental practice.

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: A survey carried out by Which? estimated that 58 per cent. of National Health Service dental practices were not taking on new patients, with 42 per cent. of practices taking on new patients.

It is difficult to analyse the results of this survey. Dentists can vary their new patient acceptance practices from day to day, for example to top up patient numbers. They may take on certain categories of patients but not others—for example, children or family members of existing patients or previous patients. They may not want to publicise their policy on accepting new patients, but are prepared to see patients who come to the surgery.

Ninety-nine per cent of calls made to NHS Direct seeking help in finding an NHS dentist are referred to a dentist within local distance standards.

We are currently undertaking the most far-reaching reforms of NHS dentistry since 1948, supported by the biggest investment programme in the history of NHS dentistry. We are providing NHS dentistry with extra funding of over £250 million a year from 2005-06, an increase of nearly 20 per cent. over 2003-04 levels. We are also funding an extra 170 dental training places from this October (a 25 per cent. increase), supported by £80 million capital investment. By this October, we will also have recruited the equivalent of 1,000 extra dentists.

NHS: Amputations

Lord Brightman asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Warner: The National Patient Safety Agency began to collect data from November 2003: All 607 trusts in England and Wales were only connected to the National Report and Learning System in December 2004. It is not therefore feasible to provide retrospective data on incidents.

The National Patient Safety Agency published its first analysis of reported patient safety incidents, Building a memory: preventing harm, reducing risks and improving patient safety — the first report of the National Reporting and Learning System and the Patient Safety Observatory on 21 July 2005. Copies have been placed in the Library.

NHS: Junior Doctors

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: The British Medical Association survey quoted "over a third" of the 235 respondents as not having secured, at that time, a further training post on completion of their current contract. This is a very small return to draw significant conclusions out of a total trainee doctor population of 49,000 in the United Kingdom.

The aim of the Department of Health is to ensure there are enough doctors to deliver the high-quality services required by patients and the National Health Service. As a result the total trainee doctor population in England has risen from 30,915 in 1997 to 43,406 in 2004.

Transition arrangements for Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) have yet to be finalised and have consequently not yet had an impact on this issue. There is no plan to reduce training opportunities as a result of MMC.

NHS: Suicides after Discharge

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: The number of suicides committed within 72 hours of discharge from National Health Service hospitals in England and Wales for the years 2002 and 2003 are contained in the following table. Figures for 2004 are not yet available.
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Year of deathNumber of suicides within 3 days of dischargeEstimated data completeness
20022797 per cent
20032288 per cent


1. Information has been obtained by personal communication with the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness (NCI).

2. Information on people who die by suicide or who receive an open verdict at a coroner's inquest is obtained from the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales. NCI then determines which suicides were in contact with mental health services in the year before death. When NCI establishes that contact occurred in the 12 months before suicide, the person becomes an "inquiry case".

3. The third column of the table shows the percentage of completeness of NCI data (that is how close NCI are to collecting all inquiry cases in the given year).

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