§ Ross Cranston
To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to his answer of 7 May 2002,Official Report, column 100W, on alcohol abuse, what advice his Department gives to primary care trusts on assessing local needs for alcohol treatment services and on ensuring that those needs are met through commissioning services. 
§ Ms Blears
Primary care trusts are responsible for securing health services for their local population and are accountable to strategic health authorities for discharging their functions effectively, including their commissioning responsibilities. In addition, the national primary and care trust development programme was established last year to support the organisational development of primary care trusts.
Primary care trusts will be expected to honour existing agreements (financial and otherwise) previously negotiated by regional specialised commissioning groups and other specialised service commissioners. In 2002–03 regional specialised commissioning groups will also have a specific role in developing primary care trust capacity to commission specialised services as part of a planned transition to successor arrangements.
It is important to ensure that primary care trusts provide high quality public health services. Each primary care trust will have a director of public health and a multi-disciplinary health team whose focus will be on improving health and tackling inequalities. This will help to ensure that primary care trusts are well placed to assess and meet local need for alcohol treatment services.