To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions his Department has held with the Southend-on-Sea Primary Care Trust on the application of the Choice of Doctor Regulations 1998; and what powers he has in the event of a breach of these regulations. 
[holding answer 13 May 2003]: These regulations place duties on primary care trusts (PCTs) to assist patients to register with a general practitioner or personal medical services pilot provider. On 16 April, Southend-on-Sea PCT sought advice from the Department on the effect of the regulations. In reply, also on 16 April, the Department confirmed its agreement with the PCT's interpretation of the regulations.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he will take to ensure that residents in Castle Point affected by closure of the Walker Drive general practitioners practice are given a choice of new general practitioner. 
[holding answer 13 May 2003]: This is a matter for the local primary care trusts, which are both taking steps to increase primary care capacity and to ensure that the patients concerned are aware of the options open to them.