To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the guidelines that are issued and health needs assessments that health authorities undertake to ensure the availability of chiropody and podiatry services to meet the needs of the local population. 
A joint Department of Health/National Health Service task force conducted a review of NHS chiropody services in 1994. Its report, "Feet First", provides guidance to the NHS on planning and delivering chiropody services. As with other health care services, local health authorities determine the quantity and scope of the chiropody services they are able to provide for their residents. They have to take into account the total resources available to them and bear in mind local priorities and circumstances.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to safeguard the provision of chiropody on the NHS. 
Chiropody is one of the range of National Health Service services provided to meet the needs of the population. The quantity and scope of chiropody services is determined by individual health authorities and general practitioner fundholders in the light of local priorities and resources.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are the number of (a) face-to-face contacts and (b) initial contacts, with chiropody and podiatry staff for (i) 1996–97, (ii) 1995–96 and (iii) 1994–95. 
Information for 1996–97 is not yet available. The numbers of reported patient contacts with the chiropody service in the last three years in England are as follows.
|Total face-to-face contacts1
|Initial face-to-face contacts2
|1 A contact is any face-to-face meeting between a member of chiropody staff and an individual patient or patient's proxy, where treatment or advice is given.
|2 An initial contact is the first in an episode of care with a service provider. An episode of care may he initiated by a referral to the chiropody staff from a hospital, general practitioner or other health service professional.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the NHS expenditure on NHS chiropody and podiatry in (a)1996–97,(b)1995–96 and (c)1994–95. 
The information requested is contained in the table:
|Total expenditure on community chiropody services England— 1994–95 to 1996–97
Figures for 1996–97 are provisional.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the budget for each health authority or health board allocated for chiropody and podiatry services in (a) 1997–98, (b) 1996–97 and (c) 1995–96. 
Health authorities are not normally allocated budgets for particular services or individual client groups. Information on local spending decisions or particular services is not collected centrally. It is for authorities to make their own decisions about the level of resources required in each case on the basis of an assessment of local needs and priorities, and taking into account the national priorities set by Government.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list those health authorities which have notified his Department of (a) reductions or increases in chiropody services in 1996–97 relative to 1995–96 and (b) planned reductions or increases in chiropody services in 1998–99. 
Health authorities are not required to notify the Department of changes in activity in particular services. Although the Department wishes to see health authorities and general practitioner fundholders provide the full range of National Health Service services including chiropody, detailed planning decisions on levels of provision are taken locally according to the needs of the population served.