Previous Section Index Home Page

Fluoride Review

Mr. Etherington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list (a) the professional, academic and other qualification, (b) the organisation represented by, (c) the declarable interests of, and (d) the period of appointment of, each member of the scientific review team examining fluoride and health; [90993]

Mr. Denham: The scientific review will assess the evidence for the safety and efficacy of fluoridation of drinking water to prevent caries. The review is being led by Professor Jos Kleijnen, Director, National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York. His team comprises two Research Fellows from the Centre and a Senior Lecturer in Dental Public Health. An advisory group offering a range of expertise and perspectives will also be appointed to oversee its scientific rigour and impartiality. The contract

21 Jul 1999 : Column: 548

between the Department and Professor Kleijnen begins in August and the review is due to be completed by the end of February 2000 and we will consider publication then. The date for the first meeting is being considered.

Beta Interferon

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his letter of 30 June, regarding beta interferon, what plans he has to improve the quality of life for multiple sclerosis sufferers. [90810]

Mr. Hutton: The National Health Service is there to provide services for everybody on the basis of clinical need and it provides a considerable number of services to which people with Multiple Sclerosis have access. Under the present system it is, of course, for health authorities and primary care groups to plan and arrange the services available to people in their care. They are closest to the people they serve and best placed to respond sensitively to their needs.

We remain committed to improving standards of healthcare. We have set out our plans to address unacceptable variations in services via a modernisation programme to deliver more consistent and higher quality care for patients. New treatments, including new medicines, are introduced into the NHS as fast as possible where they represent a genuine therapeutic advance and are cost effective.

In addition, the move to new commissioning arrangements will bring about improvements in services for people with conditions like MS. Longer term agreements, reflecting dialogue between clinicians and focusing on health improvement and quality objectives will increase the emphasis on programmes of care that cross the traditional boundaries to meet patients' needs best.

We are likely to ask the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to prepare guidance on the place of beta interferon among the range of interventions and services available for MS sufferers.

Stroke Services

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the National Service Framework for Older People will improve access to organised stroke services; and if he will make a statement. [91325]

Mr. Hutton: An external reference group (ERG) was set up to advise the Government on the development of the National Service Framework (NSF) for Older People. A number of task groups were set up to support the ERG and one of these is looking at stroke. The aim of the NSF for Older People is to improve the quality of, and reduce variations in, NHS services for older people, including older people who have had a stroke.

The ERG will be reporting to Ministers in the coming months and it is too early to anticipate their advice. However, emerging findings will be published in the autumn with the NSF itself following in Spring 2000.

Injury Prevention Programme

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the cost of implementing

21 Jul 1999 : Column: 549

council common position 70/98 of 23 November 1998 [OJ C404]; what was his position on this proposal; if qualified majority voting procedures applied; and if he will make a statement. [91843]

Ms Jowell: The United Kingdom voted in favour of the proposal for the injury prevention programme set out in Common Position 70/98 under the qualified majority voting procedure and now adopted by Decision No 372/1999/EC.

The programme is a valuable initiative which we believe will enhance injury prevention work in the UK for a relatively modest outlay. In particular it will allow for the further development of a Community injury database, initially a continuation of the European Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System (EHLASS), which has driven the raising of safety standards safety throughout Europe.

Implementation of the programme is expected to cost euro 14 million (estimated £9.9 million) over five years, of which the UK contribution is estimated at £358,000 per annum. This, however, will be offset by payments the UK will receive under the programme for the supply of information to the database. The precise figures for these payments has yet to be determined but similar payments to the UK under the EHLASS system in 1996 amounted to £216,000.

New Deal (Young People)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many individuals his Department has recruited under the New Deal for Young People. [91886]

Ms Jowell: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office to my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) on 25 May 1999, Official Report, column 116.

The reply of 25 May 1999 gave the number of new deal staff recruited into the Department as of 1 April 1999. Since then, the Department has recruited three further employees under the new deal programme. We have now recruited a total of 11 staff, of whom five are in the 18-24-year-old category.

Health Impact Assessments

Mr. Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the role of health impact assessments, with special reference to the work of the Health Development Agency. [91910]

Ms Jowell: We are committed to applying health impact assessments to relevant key Government policies, including those with indirect health consequences, in order to protect and improve people's health. These assessments will build awareness of health and health inequality into the policy making process at every level. We anticipate the Health Development Agency maintaining an up-to-date public health evidence base which will help to underpin health impact assessments.

Detoxification Centres

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government have taken to establish detoxification centres. [91847]

21 Jul 1999 : Column: 550

Ms Jowell: Local authorities and health authorities are responsible for determining local needs and priorities for drug and alcohol treatment in their areas and for arranging the provision of services accordingly through the statutory or voluntary sector. Such services could include detoxification where a need for such a service is identified.

One of the objectives of the Government's drugs strategy is to increase the participation of problem drug users in treatment programmes. One of the main objectives of the United Kingdom anti-drugs co-ordinator's first annual report and national plan is that by the end of 1999-2000 each Drug action team will have to produce an action plan to meet the local demand for detoxification and substitute prescribing services and community based structured therapeutic programmes.

Centre for Tobacco Research

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding his Department (a) has contributed to the establishment of and (b) plans to provide on an annual basis, for the Centre for Tobacco Research based at the University of Strathclyde. [92013]

Ms Jowell: The Department has made no contribution to the Centre for Tobacco Research, nor have we any plans to do so.

Polio Vaccine (Contamination)

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations he has received on the implications of contamination of polio vaccine in the United Kingdom with simian virus 40 between 1955 and 1963, for the development of cancers in humans. [92020]

Ms Jowell [holding answer 20 July 1999]: The Secretary of State has received no recent representations on the implications of contamination of polio vaccine with simian virus 40.


Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator has to tackle the problem of the misuse of prescribed methadone. [90893]

Ms Jowell: The Government are keen to reduce the availability of prescribed controlled drugs such as methadone on the illicit market. Revised clinical guidelines for doctors treating drug misusers were launched in April and sent to all GPs as well as specialists working within the field of drug misuse. They emphasise the importance of supervising the consumption of controlled drugs such as methadone, to improve patient compliance and prevent prescribed drugs reaching the illegal market. Instalment dispensing is also recommended, to avoid drug misusers receiving prescriptions for large quantities of drugs. The working group of experts which drew up the Clinical Guidelines also made a number of recommendations for additional controls on prescribing to addicts. These are intended to underpin the Guidelines by ensuring that only doctors who are properly trained and resourced engage in addiction treatment. The Government will soon be consulting on these proposals.

21 Jul 1999 : Column: 551

Next Section Index Home Page