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Positive Care Link

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much HIV/AIDS funding has been allocated by his Department to the voluntary organisation Positive Care Link for each of the last three financial years and for 1998-99. [26003]

Mr. Boateng: Positive Care Link (PCL) is in receipt of a three year grant of £30,000 per annum funding its core administration costs for the years 1996-97 to 1998-99.

PLC has also made an application for funding for a project costing £40,000 a year for three years with effect from 1998-99. A decision about this has not yet been taken.

In addition, for the years 1994-95 to 1997-98, PCL has received "earmarked" AIDS Support Grant funding of £20,000 a year (£60,000 in total) from each of the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham. The funding was originally awarded for "pumping-priming" purposes and PCL were informed in September 1997 that the arrangement would not be extended beyond 1997-98. PCL also receives funding from local authorities and health authorities for the provision of local services.

AIDS (Viral Load Tests)

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce viral load testing sensitive enough to detect viral loads of below 50 for people with AIDS using combination drug therapies. [26004]

Ms Jowell: We have no plans to specify which viral load tests should be used by the National Health Service. The choice of treatment regimen for people with HIV and AIDS is a matter for discussion between doctor and patient. The British HIV Association published guidelines for antiretroviral treatment of HIV seropositive individuals last year. These guidelines suggest treatment regimens based on biological markers including viral load measurements. The choice of which test system to use for viral load measurements needs to be informed by clinical and virological expertise.

Child Care Orders

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many child care orders were made by each local authority in the Greater London area in 1997. [26048]

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 507

Care orders under the Children Act 1989 made during the year ending 31 March 1996, Greater London

AuthorityNumber of Care Orders InterimFullNumber of children who became subject to either type of order during year(17)
Inner London
Tower Hamlets(16)n/an/an/a
City of London000
Outer London
Kingston upon Thames314
Richmond upon Thames9713
Waltham Forest81219


(15) Estimates for Greenwich have been adjusted to take account of missing data.

(16) Figures are not available for Tower Hamlets and Haringey.

(17) Where a child became subject to a care order or an interim care order on more than one occasion during the year ended 31 March 1996, the child has only been counted once in the figures in this column.

St. George's Hospital, Tooting

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people live within the catchment area of St. George's Hospital, Tooting. [26050]

Mr. Milburn: Catchment area data for individual hospitals or National Health Service trusts are not collected.

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 508

St. George's Hospital provides services for most residents of the London Borough of Wandsworth and also for parts of Lambeth and Merton. The hospital also serves a much wider population with a number of its specialist services.

Health Records (Access Charges)

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the level of charges levied on patients for access to their health records. [26260]

Mr. Milburn: Under the Access to Health Records Act 1990, holders of manual records are permitted to charge an application fee not exceeding £10 to cover the cost of retrieving, collating and examining files. Additionally, the cost of producing a photocopy of the records may be recovered. Computer records are covered by the Data Protection Act 1984. Currently, an application fee not exceeding £10 may be charged for providing copies of computer records.

MS Drug Treatments

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the benefit to MS sufferers of Beta Interferon and Betaferon drug treatments; and if he will amend the guidance contained in circular EU(94)72 to promote wider use of such drugs. [26083]

Ms Jowell: As part of our health technology assessment programme, an evaluation and pharmaco-economic analysis project is being undertaken on Beta Interferon for multiple sclerosis.

We are committed to ensuring that new treatments, including new medicines, are introduced into the National Health Service as fast as possible where they represent a genuine therapeutic advance and are cost-effective. EL(94)72 asked health authorities to establish a mechanism for assessing new treatments, and most authorities have now established prescribing committees.

ME Association

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what financial support his Department (a) currently gives and (b) plans to give to the ME Association. [26144]

Ms Jowell: The Department has provided funds to the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association of £37,000 from 1995-96 to 1997-98 and, in the same period, of £94,673 for their development of support services project. Funding is provided through the Section 64 scheme of grants.

Further funding is currently being considered.


Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is his Department's policy on the natural health supplement, Irena. [26145]

Ms Jowell: The product Irena, when presented as a medicinal product, is subject to medicines legislation.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 26 January 1998,

2 Feb 1998 : Column: 509

Official Report, column 45, from the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will make it his policy to collect information on the results of medical research on cannabis where a Home Office licence has been granted. [26271]

Mr. Boateng: The Department of Health routinely uses available research evidence to support policy development. There is, therefore, no need to make it policy that we will collect information on the results of medical research of cannabis where a Home Office licence has been granted.

Social Care

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate the Government has made of the numbers of social care staff working (a) in residential and nursing homes for the elderly, in both the public and private sectors, (b) in residential homes for children, (c) as paid care assistants in the community and (d) as paid domestic child care. [26706]

Mr. Boateng: In September 1996, the latest date for which the information is available, the numbers of full and part time social care staff directly employed by local authorities were:

Information is not held centrally on items (c) and (d). The number of social services staff in England providing home care/home help services to people in their own homes was (at the same date) 75,910.

Information on employment in the private and voluntary sectors is not held centrally. However, the report of the "Independent Sector Workforce Survey 1966" conducted by the Local Government Management Board showed that the numbers of nursing and care staff in private and voluntary residential and nursing establishments for the elderly and elder infirm in England were:

    nursing homes: 119,300.

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