Previous Section Index Home Page

Food Standards Agency

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the target date of April 2001 for the establishment of new performance appraisal arrangements for all staff of the Food Standards Agency was met. [49225]

Yvette Cooper: New performance appraisal arrangements were introduced for staff employed by the Food Standards Agency with the first reports being completed from April 2001.

22 Apr 2002 : Column 116W

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the result is of the examination by the Food Standards Agency, in co-operation with the Public Health Laboratory Service and others, of the best means of gathering data for the food poisoning baseline. [49213]

Yvette Cooper: At its public board meeting on 9 May 2001, the Food Standards Agency's board agreed that laboratory reports of the major foodborne bacteria, excluding those cases reported to have been acquired abroad, provided the most robust basis for setting the baseline for its target to reduce foodborne disease over a five-year period. Information on laboratory-reported cases is provided to the agency by the National Surveillance Centres. Based on laboratory reports for the year ending 31 December 2000, the baseline figure is 62,209. This was announced by the agency on 23 August 2001.

Hospital Beds

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds were available in (a) England and (b) each NHS trust in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [48923]

Mr. Hutton: Information on the average daily number of available and occupied beds for England and for each national health service trust in each of the last five years is on the Department's hospitalactivity.

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the average daily number of (a) available beds open overnight and (b) occupied beds for wards open overnight for (i) acute wards, (ii) geriatric wards, (iii) mental illness wards (iv) maternity wards and (v) learning disability wards, in (A) St Helens and Knowsley Health Authority, (B) Merseyside, (C) the North West, (D) England and (E) Scotland in (1) 1998, (2) 1999, (3) 2000, (4) 2001 and (5) the quarter to 31 March 2002. [48663]

Jacqui Smith: Annual information on the average daily number of available and occupied beds for England, regional office areas and each NHS trust is on the Department of Health website hospitalactivity.

Information relating to Scotland is a matter for the devolved Administration.

Advisory Group on Radiation, Risk and Society

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) on 20 March 2002, Official Report, column 438, what the membership is of the Advisory Group on Radiation, Risk and Society; what the (a) terms of reference, and (b) criteria for the choice of members are; and if he will make a statement on what guidelines individual members of the group have been given on (i) disclosing proceedings and ii) publishing material subsequently, that relates to the advisory group. [49689]

Yvette Cooper: The National Radiological Protection Board's Radiation, Risk and Society Advisory Group (R,RSAG) was set up by NRPB in 2001. The R,RSAG is an independent advisory group that reports to the board of NRPB whose minutes are published on the NRPB website ( R,RSAG membership and terms of

22 Apr 2002 : Column 117W

reference are set out. Members have been drawn from a number of academic disciplines. Criteria for membership are academic experience in how to explain risk in general and radiological risk in particular to the public and a willingness to serve. The constraints on membership are the need for a group that is not too big to allow views to be debated adequately and the need for several academic disciplines to be represented.

The group has discussed disclosure of its proceedings. It was agreed that the group's considerations and discussions would remain confidential until an agreed position was ready to be made public. Papers and reports from the group would be published but would not be released during the drafting process. Minutes of meetings would be published on the web.

Radiation, Risk and Society Advisory Group

Dental Care

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he plans to introduce free dental care to those who are unemployed or on low incomes; [49678]

22 Apr 2002 : Column 118W

Jacqui Smith: Many patients receiving national health service dental treatment are either exempt from charges or can receive partial help with the cost. People who fall into the following categories are exempt from charges:

Patients not entitled to free treatment may be able to pay a reduced amount under the NHS low income scheme.

Patients who are not exempt from charges pay 80 per cent. of the cost of their treatment, up to a maximum of £366 per course of treatment. The NHS pays the remaining 20 per cent., and any charges over and above £366.

There are no immediate plans to change the exemption categories or the proportion of the charge paid by patients.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the provision of NHS dental care; and what measures the Government have taken to increase this provision; [49675]

Jacqui Smith: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is responsible for the provision of dental services in England. Provision of services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the devolved Administrations.

22,439 national health service dentists were working in England at 30 September 2001. This includes dentists working in the general dental service (GDS), personal dental service, community and hospital dental services and salaried dentists in the GDS.

This figure is on a headcount basis rather than whole time equivalent and includes those working part-time. Some dentists work in more than one dental service. These dentists will be counted in each service apart from dentists working in both PDS and GDS who are counted in the GDS only.

Following the Prime Minister's pledge the systems are now operating for patients to obtain national health service dental treatment by phoning NHS Direct. NHS Direct is handling about 10,000 dental calls a month and directing patients on how to access local services. Where local dentists are not registering new patients, NHS Direct will be able to inform them of other local arrangements providing access to NHS dentistry.

We are committed to ensuring that NHS dentistry is available to all who want it. In supporting this commitment the Government have invested over £100 million in the last two years. Significant resources have been invested in personal dental service pilots to improve access to NHS dentistry in areas with significant problems.

22 Apr 2002 : Column 119W

Next Section Index Home Page