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Corneal Grafts

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what targets he has set for UK Transplant to increase the number of corneal grafts available for transplant in the UK; and if he will make a statement; [132510]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Although no specific targets have been set to increase the number of corneal grafts available for transplant in the United Kingdom, UK Transplant aims to provide sufficient corneas to allow 2,500 grafts per year. The transplant framework, published in July 2003, sets out the key aims for transplantation over the next 10 years and describes good practice, which the national health service, organisations and individuals can use to maximise the benefits of transplantation.

The table shows the number of corneas donated and grafted in each of the last five financial years, from 1 April to 31 March. Not all corneas retrieved are suitable for transplantation. Medical contra-indications and endothelial deficiency account for the majority of corneas that are unable to be used.

Corneas donatedCorneas grafted

Dental Practice Board

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the future of the Dental Practice Board. [132641]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Clause 177 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill, currently before Parliament, provides for the abolition of the Dental Practice Board (DPB). The DPB will be replaced by a special health authority (SHA), established under section 11 of the 1977 Act by the Secretary of State and the Assembly. The new SHA will be cross-border, undertaking functions in relation to both England and Wales. The assets, liabilities and staff (subject to consultation) of the DPB will be transferred under section 11 powers to the new SHA. The new SHA

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will undertake monitoring and quality assurance functions in relation to the new primary dental services regime.

The DPB is currently subject to the Lyons review, which is examining the scope for relocation of public sector work from London and the south east. The outcome of the review is expected at the end of November 2003.

Dental Technicians

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what financial resources are allocated from the NHS budget for the recruiting and training of dental technicians during the next three years. [133245]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Local work force development confederations are responsible for commissioning education and training for dental technicians. Their aggregate business plans indicate that nationally they are forecasting to spend £1.5 million in 2003–04, £1.7 million in 2004–05 and £1.8 million in 2005–06 on pre-registration dental technician training. We value highly the contribution that dental technicians make to the dental team and are working with the profession to see how training opportunities might be expanded.


Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many 11 to 17-year-olds are diagnosed as suffering from depression; what proportion of that age group this figure represents; and how many of those diagnosed are being prescribed anti-depressants, broken down by age. [134039]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 23 October 2003]: Information is not collected in the form requested. A study undertaken by the Office of National Statistics in 1999 found that 1.8 per cent. of children aged 11 to 15 suffer from depression.

The table shows the estimated number of prescription items of anti-depressants issued in the community for children in 2001 and 2002. Children are defined as 0 to 15-year-olds and those aged 16 to 18-year-olds in full time education. They form approximately one per cent. of the total number of prescriptions issued for anti-depressants.

Estimated number of prescription items of anti-depressant drugs dispensed in the community in England for children in 2001 and 2002

Prescription items

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research his Department has commissioned into links between the consumption of anti-depressants by young people and the risk of suicide; and if he will make a statement; [134041]

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Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 23 October 2003]: No antidepressants are licensed for the treatment of depressive illness in children and adolescents in the United Kingdom. Doctors are able to legally prescribe medicines outside their licensed indications if they consider it is in the best interests of their patient.

On the basis of advice from their independent expert working group on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) has issued advice that paroxetine (Seroxat) and venlafaxine (Efexor) should not be used in the treatment of depression in children and adolescents under 18 years. This followed review of clinical trial data which suggested an increased risk of self harm and potentially suicidal behaviour in those treated with paroxetine or venlafaxine, compared with those given placebo.

The safety and efficacy of other SSRIs in children and adolescents is under review by the expert working group. The working group is also providing input to the Europe-wide consideration of the safety of paroxetine, which is being led by the Netherlands and the UK on behalf of the Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products.

As part of the review of the safety of SSRIs, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has commissioned a study using general practitioner records to investigate whether there is an association between the consumption of antidepressants, including SSRIs, and suicide. This study includes children and adolescents. Interim guidance has been provided to all doctors and pharmacists in the CSM's bulletin, "Current Problems in Pharmacovigilance." The National Institute of Clinical Excellence is in the process of drafting guidelines on the treatment of depression in children and adolescents.

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on (a) the Government's policy on tackling depression in young people and (b) the steps he is taking to raise awareness of depression in young people. [134043]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 23 October 2003]: The Department, together with the Welsh Assembly, has asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to develop a clinical guideline on the management of depression in children and young people in primary, community and secondary care for use in the National Health Service in England and Wales. The guideline will provide recommendations for good practice that are based on the best available evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness.

The Department has also commissioned the "Mind Out of Mental Health" campaign to work with its partners in the voluntary sector, the media, employers and youth student organisations to raise awareness of mental health problems, as well as combating the stigma and sidcrimination surrounding mental health. They provide advice and information on a range of mental health problems including depression. The "Wired for Health website at is another useful source of information.

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Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce an insulin user's identity card for diabetics; and if he will make a statement. [133092]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There are no plans to introduce identity cards for people with diabetes who use insulin. However, such cards are available from Diabetes UK. We are also aware of companies that offer jewellery, such as bracelets, pendants and watches that can be used for the purpose of conveying medical information.

Essex Ambulance Service

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the names of those people who were considered for the post of Chairman of the Essex Ambulance Service NHS Trust. [132820]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The National Health Service Appointments Commission now has responsibility for all chair and non-executive appointments to NHS boards. The Commission owes a duty of confidentiality to all candidates for appointments. Only the names of successful candidates are published.

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