§ Angela Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to her answer of 17 November 1997,Official Report, column 27, when it became her policy to have priority groups for the provision of NHS chiropody services; how this policy was communicated to boards and trusts; and what notification she has received regarding (a) increases and (b) reductions in services for the priority groups in the present year or next year. 
§ Mr. Worthington
This policy originated prior to the reorganisation of the health and personal social services in Northern Ireland in 1973, when chiropody services were limited mainly due to a shortage of professional staff. It was in this context that Boards were advised of the priority groups in a Departmental Circular issued in 1974, but these continue to apply where services have to be 169W targeted on those in greatest need within available resources. As I indicated in response to a question from my hon. Friend on 17 November 1997, Official Report, column 26, Health and Social Services Boards and Trusts are not required to notify the Department of reductions or increases in particular services and, for the present or next year, none has.