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Ms Blears: Ministers at the Department have met Ministers from the devolved Administrations on a number of occasions over the past two years. The full Joint Ministerial Committee on Health first met in April 2000 and met a further three times that year and once in 2001. There are also other multilateral meetings held regularly both at ministerial and official level, such as the Four Ways meeting of Health Ministers which last took place in January of this year.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many intensive care beds were counted in the critical care census in each census since it began in 1999; and whether these beds were recorded as staffed and in use. 
Ms Blears: I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) on 23 April 2002 , Official Report, column 244W. The number of critical care beds reported on each of the census days is the number staffed and available for the use of critically ill patients, or are actually being used, by critically ill patients on that day.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many responses were received by the Medicines Control Agency in response to the MLX 282 consultation document issued on 13 February; what percentage were in favour of the measures proposed; and how many and what percentage were from pharmaceutical companies. 
16 May 2002 : Column 864W
Ms Blears: MLX 282 is a consultation document on proposals from the European Commission to amend the body of EC legislation that regulates medicinal products for human use. The proposals for reform are wide- ranging.
MLX 282 was issued on 13 February 2002 by the Medicines Control Agency (MCA), inviting views, to 247 recipients including trade associations representing the pharmaceutical and related industries, practitioners' representative bodies and patient groups. Individual pharmaceutical companies were not approached. The formal consultation period ended on 10 May 2002.
An advertisement placed in a national daily newspaper on Tuesday 23 April has generated a number of identical e-mail responses expressing reservations about a possible increase in the regulation of the natural health therapies sector at the EU and national level. In addition the MCA has so far received 12 formal responses to the consultation. 9 of those focused on and opposed the possible increase in the regulation of the natural health therapies sector.
Ms Blears: The European Commission has proposed amendments to EU Directive 2001/83/EC which forms part of the body of EC legislation which regulates medicinal products for human use. The proposed amendments are currently being discussed by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Once adopted by the Council of Ministers they will have to be transposed into UK law.
The medicines legislation currently applies only to licensed medicinal products. However, the Commission's proposed amendments, if adopted as drafted, will widen the definition of a medicine and bring more products within the scope of medicines legislation.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the backlog maintenance cost to each estate code B was in (a) England and (b) each NHS region in the most recent year for which figures are available indicating how much is attributable to (i) fire safety and (ii) other safety costs. 
Ms Blears: Backlog maintenance costs to achieve estate code condition B for fire safety and health and safety is collected annually via the estate returns information collection system managed by National Health Service Estates.
The following table, based on best available data, shows total backlog maintenance costs for fire safety and health and safety reported by NHS trusts in England for the most recent year, 200001, broken down by NHS regions.
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|Region||Cost to achieve fire safety estate code condition B||Cost to achieve health and safety estate code condition B|
|Northern and Yorkshire||33,333||38,412|
|Total for England||245,206||362,670|
Ms Blears: Over the last 18 months we have spent £100 million on modernising national health service dentistry. £10 million of this was for the dental care development fund and the dentistry action plan fund to support local plans to improve access. This money enables health authorities to assist dentists seeking to set up new practices and to expand and modernise existing ones. Furthermore, the £35 million modernisation fund provided grants for dentists to improve facilities.
Additionally, the commitment payment scheme, introduced from April 1999, provides incentive payments to dentists, depending on how much NHS work they undertake. From April 2002, the scheme was extended to include dentists who have five years or more service in the NHS. Officials continue to work with the profession to see how the scheme might be strengthened in the future. The Department is also undertaking work with the profession and other stakeholders through the modernising project "Options for Change", to test out new methods of providing NHS dentistry.
Ms Blears: Very few dentists leave the general dental service (GDS) totally to practice privately. However, dentists in the GDS can vary their level of commitment to the GDS, for example by increasing the amount of their private work.
The number of leavers covers all reasons for leaving the GDS including retirement from dental work and dentists taking career breaks. These figures are inflated by the transfer of some dentists from the GDS to some personal dental service pilots.
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|Number of leavers|
|Vocational dental practitioners||105||95||136|
|Leavers as percentage of dentist number at beginning of year (per cent.)|
Mr. Hutton: The Government accepted the recommendations of the Carson Report"Raising Standards for Patients. New partnerships in Out-of-Hours Care"which was published in October 2000. A comprehensive work programme is in place to implement these by 2004 in line with the commitments set out in the NHS Plan.
Ms Blears: The Office for National Statistics estimated that in Great Britain in 2000, 2.9 per cent. of women aged 16 to 74 had some degree of dependence on alcohol: mild or severe dependence was found in 1.0 per cent. (Psychiatric Morbidity Among Adults Living in Private Households, 2000, published by the Stationery Office, London, 2001, ISBN 0 11 621480 5). The prevalence of alcohol dependence in the six months before interview was assessed using the Severity of Alcohol Dependence questionnaire (SAD-Q). Further information is given in the published report, which can be found at www.statistics.gov.uk/ downloads/theme-health/psychmorb.pdf.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the percentage of women aged between 16 and 24 years who drank more than the recommended daily benchmarks in (a) the most recent year for which figures are available and (b) each of the last five years. 
|Percentage who drank more than 3 units on at least one day last week||42||42|
1. Percentages rounded to the nearest whole figure.
2. The percentages are based on weighted data; the bases are unweighted numbers.
Office for National Statistics General Household Survey
16 May 2002 : Column 867W
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the percentage of women who (a) drank more than the recommended daily benchmarks at least once a week and (b) drank more than twice the recommended daily benchmarks at least once a week in each of the last five years, including the most recent year for which figures are available. 
|More than 3 up to 6 units||21||23|
|More than 6 units||8||10|
1. The percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole figure.
Office for National Statistics General Household Survey
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