To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many working days were lost in (a) England, (b) South Sefton, (c) Southport and (d) Formby because of arthritis and related conditions in each year since 1999; how much he estimates the lost work days owing to arthritis cost the economy; and what action is being taken to reduce the number of work days lost because of arthritis. 
We do not collect figures centrally covering lost working days for people with arthritis. We want to help people with arthritis to remain in, or return to, work wherever this is possible and appropriate for them. Physiotherapists and occupational therapists play a crucial part in the rehabilitation of people suffering from arthritis and related conditions and the focus will be to restore the person to their optimal function, including returning to work, where appropriate.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the population in (a) England, (b) South Sefton, (c) Southport and (d) Formby he estimates will suffer from arthritis in (i) 2004, (ii) 2005 and (iii) 2006. 
Currently, it is estimated that about eight million people in the United Kingdom have arthritis. This is approximately 14 per cent. of the population. We would expect that these figures would remain fairly constant over time.Separate figures on the incidence of arthritis for South Sefton, Southport and Formby are not available centrally.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Government will introduce a national strategy for arthritis. 
The Government are aware that arthritis is a major cause of disability in the UK and that it has a significant impact not only on health and community services but also on the people who experience its painful symptoms. We are sympathetic to the needs of patients with arthritis and have helped make new generation drugs for arthritis treatment such as etanercept and infliximab available to national health service patients.There are currently no plans to introduce a formal national strategy for arthritis.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Government will introduce arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions to be a priority for health and social care. 
Priorities for health and social care are set out in Improvement, Expansion and Reform, the priorities and planning framework for 2003–06. Although arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are not identified specifically, people with these conditions stand to benefit from the improvement in access to specialist care for patients suffering from any form of orthopaedic condition. Maximum waiting times have fallen over the past few years and will continue to do so, so that, by the end of 2005, the maximum waiting time for a first outpatient appointment with a consultant will fall to three months and the maximum wait for inpatient treatment will fall to six months. Also, the older peoples' national service framework set standards which will improve treatment and care for a range of older people, including those with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total cost of arthritis was to health and social services in England in 2002–03. 
The information requested is not collected centrally. Health authorities (HAs) and primary care trusts receive unified allocations to cover the costs of hospital and community health services, discretionary funding for general practice staff, premises and computers and primary care prescribing.The level of funding made available for the drugs, staffing and other costs of providing arthritis services are determined locally. It is for HAs, in partnership with primary care groups/trusts and other local stakeholders, to determine how best to use their funds to provide health services for their populations, including those with arthritis.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the two most common types of (a) arthritis and (b) musculoskeletal conditions are. 
Information on the incidence of individual conditions is not collected centrally. Research evidence suggests that osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms of arthritis. Other than arthritis, the most common types of musculoskeletal conditions are traumatic damage to ligaments and tendons, manifested as sprains, backache and similar conditions.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the second most common cause of working days lost by (a) men and (b) women was in 2002–03. 
The second most common cause of working days lost by both men and women was diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce a national strategy for arthritis; and if he will make a statement. 
I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mrs. Curtis-Thomas) today.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) rheumatologists and (b) multi-disciplinary specialists in arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are employed by NHS trusts which serve the Portsmouth South area. 
The latest Department of Health medical and dental workforce census data (September 2002) confirms that five rheumatologists are employed by Portsmouth Hospitals National Health Service Trust.Information on the number of multi-disciplinary specialists in arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions is not collected centrally.