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NHS Dentistry

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on NHS dental provision in each region of the UK. [35627]

Ms Blears: The total number of dentists working in the national health service in England as at 30 September was 22,437, of whom 18,821 work in the general dental service (GDS) and the personal dental service (PDS). The remainder work in the hospital dental service, the community dental service or are salaried dentists. The total gross expenditure on the GDS and the PDS is about £1,720 million a year.

NHS dental provision in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is a matter for the devolved Administrations.

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Hip and Knee Replacements

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost per operation is for (a) hip and (b) knee replacements in each hospital trust. [35988]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested has been placed in the Library. The table contains the average unit costs (per operation) for each NHS Trust in England for (a) primary hip replacements, and (b) Primary Knee Replacements where the operation is undertaken as an elective (ie planned) admission.

The data source is the Reference Costs 2001 Collection, relating to the financial year 2000–01. These are the most current data available in the public domain.

Calculation of the costs provided are based on all activity and costs associated with each procedure, regardless of the specialty in which the activity is recorded.


Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the benefits of the movement of products from prescription control to pharmacy sale; and what impact the change would have on access to treatments. [36295]

Ms Blears: We are committed to empowering patients to make informed health care choices. Widening access to medicines, including moving medicines from prescription only status to availability from a pharmacist where is it safe to do so, can play an important part in this process.

The benefits of making more medicines available from the pharmacy include the opportunity for people to access treatments speedily, at a time and a place of their choosing that would otherwise only be available having consulted a prescriber.

The NHS Plan set out a range of proposals for improving access to medicines including developing the role of pharmacists set out in "Pharmacy in the Future"—a copy of which is in the Library. It outlines a range of changes designed to enable the greater availability of medicines, including independent nurse prescribing, supplementary prescribing and patient group directions. Taken together, these initiatives will have an important impact on improving access to treatments and ensuring our commitment to patient centred care is taken forward.

Reclassification of medicines can also play an important role in supporting our clinical priority areas, for example in disease prevention and health promotion. It also provides support on more specific health initiatives such as smoking cessation where, a number of nicotine replacement products were made more widely available in May 2001.

Ministerial Boxes

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what means ministerial boxes are conveyed from private offices in his Department to (a) himself and (b) his Ministers; how frequently and at what expense private courier firms are employed for such a task; and which courier firms have been used for such duties. [36274]

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Ms Blears: Ministerial boxes originating from this Department are transported to Ministers' homes either by Government car or by a service provided by Royal Mail.

Health and Safety (Computers)

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many employees in his Department who regularly use computers have taken up the provision of a free eye test; and how this service is advertised to (a) current and (b) new staff. [36688]

Ms Blears: The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, effective from January 1993, require employers to provide and pay for, upon request from an employee, an eye and eyesight test.

The number of eyesight tests carried out under the Display Screen Equipment Regulation (1992) for staff working for the Department and its agencies is shown in the table.

YearNumber of tests

The Department promotes the eyesight test scheme to all staff through its internal electronic information system and in house publications. New staff are also provided with information about the eye test scheme through health and safety awareness as part of induction training.

Independent Reconfiguration Panel

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how the posts of Chairman of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel was (a) advertised and (b) filled; [36780]

Ms Blears: The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) will offer authoritative advice to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health on referred proposals for NHS service change. The Panel's draft terms of reference were outlined in the press release announcing the appointment of the Chair, Dr Peter Barrett. These will need to be agreed with the Panel membership before being confirmed. The advice offered will be independent of Government and will be published.

As a Public Sector Working Group, the Office for the Commissioner of Public Appointments has confirmed that the IRP does not fall within its remit. However, as far as possible, the appointment procedures followed have been in line with "Nolan" principles. The panel chairman, Dr Barrett, was appointed by the Secretary of State from a shortlist of candidates. The selection of the Panel

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membership is being undertaken through an open recruitment competition, overseen by an independent assessor. No appointments have yet been made.

Civil Servants

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will provide the (a) percentage and number of rail journeys undertaken on first class tickets, (b) average cost of a first class journey by rail and (c) total cost of rail travel in each of the past four years broken down by grade of civil servant. [37506]

Ms Blears: In 2001, 43,474 rail tickets were purchased from the Department's travel contractor, of which 27,087 (62 per cent.) were for first class travel.

Information about the average price of a first class ticket is not kept but the average price paid in 2001 for all classes of rail ticket purchased from the Department's travel contractor was £150.

There is no information about tickets purchased by grade of civil servant but the total cost of rail travel in each of the past three years is as follows:


Promotional Sick Bags

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many promotional sick bags have been sent out by the Food Standards Agency; and at what cost. [36801]

Yvette Cooper: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that they have sent out a total of 287,378 promotional sick bags to named catering outlets at a cost of £125,322. The approach was extensively piloted as a successful means of promoting the food hygiene campaign.

A and E Patients

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many accident and emergency patients have been received each month over the past five years at the (a) Whittington, (b) North Middlesex and (c) Royal Free hospital. [36616]

Mr. Hutton: Data on accident and emergency attendances are not collected on a monthly basis. From 2001–02, the information is available on a quarterly basis and previous to this on an annual basis.

Information for the selected national health service trusts is given in the table.

Total accident and emergency attendances, 1997–98 to 2001–02 Qtr 3

National health service trust
Whittington hospitalNorth Middlesex hospitalRoyal Free Hampstead

(99) Quarter 3

(100) Quarter 2

(101) Quarter 1


KH09—Outpatient and A&E attendances

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The information is available on the Department's website

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