HC Deb 13 January 2003 vol 397 cc501-2W
Mr. Truswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what use his Department and its agencies make of postcode areas for(a) the collection and publication of data, (b) devising formulae for the distribution of grants and awards and (c) the delivery of services; and when such usages were last reviewed. [87745]

Mr. Lammy

The Department, including its Agencies, uses postcodes or postcode-related information as follows:

(a) In collection of a variety of information by geographical area, including use as a sampling frame on which to base sample surveys. Postcode information is used both to identify locations and as a basis to derive data about larger geographic areas, including for fixed geographic areas over time. Where published, including through maps, data are usually presented in terms of defined administrative areas derived from postcode information, not in terms of postcode areas. All departmental data collection is reviewed periodically and the use of postcodes and postcode-related information is included in such review.

(b) Postcode information is used as part of the process of determining eligibility for additional payments to dentists relating to children aged under six years in deprived areas. This arrangement was made in 1998 and was amended from being based on the postcode of the dentist's surgery to the postcode of residence of the patient in April 2002.

(c) The Department does not use postcodes in its own delivery of services other than for addressing and indexing correspondence, or for referring enquirers to local services.

The Department is also involved in projects under the neighbourhood statistics initiative to improve the geographic referencing of its statistics, and this will include reviews of current collection and use of postcode information.