Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence



  411.  Early letters have been omitted here for the sake of brevity. The following represents the main correspondence during the period from late 1997 to date.

  412.  Letter to Helen Southworth MP of 27 November 1997

    —  has any research into autism been commissioned by the DoH since the Newson research of 1994?

    —  could the DoH confirm that no research at all is being progressed through the DoH's Research and Development Programme, nor through the Department's Policy Research Programme?

    —  why does the DoH not co-operate with the DEE on identifying the numbers of children that are "statemented" for special educational needs, and on the proportion that is diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, and in particular in analysing why there has been a steep increase in SEN places?

413.  Letter to Helen Southworth MP of 31 March 1998

    —  what details are there of current DoH research into the causes of autism?

    —  what is the Department's response to Professor Pattison's call of 25 March 1998 for more research?

    —  why have specific criticisms set out in my letter of 24 October 1997 of the Swedish MMR study not been addressed in subsequent correspondence?

    —  what active progress is being made in resolving issues of classification, diagnosis and other potential areas of international statistical compatibility, as referred to by the DoH in its letter of 19 March 1998, to assist in determining whether there has been an underlying real increase in autism?

    —  please provide clarification of various inconsistent wordings in DoH literature/patient leaflets in relation to warnings about vaccinating children that are sensitive to certain antibiotics.

  414.  Letter to Helen Southworth MP of 5 May 1998

    —  will the Department itemise all that it is doing in response to the reported 1,600 children that may have suffered autism etc following vaccination (this followed questioning on ITN News on 5 May 1998 as to what the Department was doing about these children, and the response of Sir Kenneth Calman that "we are doing everything . . .")

  415.  Letter to Helen Southworth MP of 31 May 1998

    —  as it is acknowledged by the DoH that there is under-reporting of levels of suspected adverse reactions, are figures supplied to Members of Parliament etc factored up to compensate for this?

  416.  Letter to Helen Southworth MP of 9 June 1998

    —  could the DoH summarise its research programme for the past 10 years?

    —  what element of this has been on investigating the causes of autism?

  417.  Letter to Helen Southworth MP of 23 June 1998*

    —  is the DoH aware of the study into possible links between vaccination and autism being carried out by Dr V Singh at Ann Arbor University?

    —  has it actively sought further details of Dr Singh's work?

  418.  Letter to Helen Southworth MP of 14 August 1998

    —  does the DoH ever actually monitor local levels of compliance regarding accurate/complete keeping of child health records, or complaints about non-compliance?

    —  does the DoH monitor the adequacy of what is kept?

    —  is the non-recording of a batch number (as in the case of Oliver Thrower) a serious failure, in the eyes of the DoH headquarters?

    —  is the disappearance of an entire set of Health Visitor records (as applies in the case of Oliver Thrower) a serious failure?

    —  what does the "legal requirement" status of the keeping of records actually mean in practice, and who takes the action?

    —  if patients' records have to be kept for 25-26 years, and the EC Consumer Protection Act is effective for 10 years after vaccination, why do manufacturers only have to keep records for five or six years?

    —  why is the recommendation of January 1997 of the House of Commons Health Committee regarding keeping a database on autism now being dismissed by the present Government?

    —  why is there no DoH headquarters-level interest in the overall national prevalence of autism?

    —  will the Minister specifically itemise what is being done to investigate the causes of autism?

    —  ditto regarding the prevalence of the condition?

    —  what steps is the UK Government taking to progress international/WHO agreement on SLD categories, to facilitate statistical data-gathering?

    —  which experts were invited to the 27 March 1997 Medical Research Council seminar?

    —  why were other interested parties, including parents' representatives, solicitors and Members of Parliament, excluded from the seminar or not invited to it?

  419.  Letter to Helen Southworth MP of 20 August 1998*

    —  seeking a response to further three research papers forwarded to the DoH, particularly the Weibel paper

    —  were any of these researchers invited to the MRC review of 27 March 1997?

    —  how many does were in each batch of M/MMR vaccine pre and post 1998?

    —  does Priorix contain the same ingredients as MMR-II?

    —  do these differ in makeup and amount?

    —  does/did MMR contain myelin basic protein and what were the results of any testing?

    —  can confirmation of the amounts (if any) of aluminium be given in M/MMR?

    —  exactly how much notice was given to Merck Sharpe Dohme of the discontinuation of the other two supplies of MMR in September 1992, for them to make up the shortfall?

    —  does the Department accept in principle that brain damage can result from M or MMR vaccination?

    —  was it Sir Kenneth Calman that personally approved Pluserix and Imruvax in 1998-8?

    —  who were the members of the JCVI in 1987, 1988, and 1989?

  420.  The great majority of the above remain wholly unanswered as at the beginning of June 1999. The Department has made it clear that it is not going to offer any answers. In consequence, the unanswered correspondence, and the unanswered specific questions within it, have been referred to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for investigation.

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Prepared 27 July 1999