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Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans Her Majesty's Government have to propose legislation to prevent the setting up of commercial establishments purporting to select the sex of a baby by embryology. [99751]

Yvette Cooper: Any treatment involving the use of human embryos outside the body is governed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The Act provides that such treatment cannot take place without a licence issued by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

In January 1993 the HFEA issued a public consultation document on the issues raised by sex selection and the ways of achieving it using assisted conception techniques. Following the consultation, the HFEA decided that licensed infertility clinics could carry out sex selection for medical reasons only in cases where a woman risked having a child with a life-threatening, sex-linked disease. Sex selection for social reasons is not permitted.

Prostate Cancer

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of regional variations in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer; and if he will make a statement. [99872]

Yvette Cooper: We are aware of regional variations in the diagnosis, treatment and survival of cancers, including prostate cancer. Data have been published in the report by the Office For National Statistics "Cancer Survival Trends" which provides evidence that cancer survival in adults in England and Wales is generally lower among patients in more deprived groups than those in more affluent groups. Equity of access was a founding principle of the National Health Service and is central to

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Government policy. It is one of the main aims of the new health strategy set out in the White Paper "Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation".

Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director, will spearhead the drive to modernise all aspects of cancer care, including addressing regional variations in survival rates. His role will be to ensure people in this country have faster, fairer cancer care. He will work in partnership with doctors, nurses, general practitioners, other health professionals and the voluntary sector to improve prevention and modernise cancer services to help ensure equitable access to high-quality cancer care.

By December 2000 all urgent GP referrals of suspected prostate cancer should be seen by a consultant within two weeks of referral. Work is under way to develop national standards and performance indicators for rollout from April 2000, and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence will be commissioning outcomes guidance on four further cancer sites over the next two years. Urological cancers (including prostate cancer) will be the first of these.


Mr. McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the reported outbreaks within the UK over the last year of E coli 0157 poisoning. [100203]

Yvette Cooper: Information on reported outbreaks of E.Coli 0157 within England and Wales have been collected by the Public Health Laboratory Service since 1992. The table gives details of all general outbreaks of E.Coli 0157 infection in England and Wales reported to the PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre and Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens in the period November 1998-October 1999 (inclusive). However, the PHLS can only provide data for England and Wales.

Information on data for Northern Ireland and Scotland should be sought from their respective administrations.

YearMonthRegionPlace of outbreak
1998NovemberWest MidlandsHospital
1999FebruaryNorthern and YorkshireCommunity (Dairy)
1999MarchNorthern and YorkshireCommunity (Retailer)
1999MayNorth WestCommunity (Dairy)
1999MaySouth EastCommunity (Butcher)
1999MayNorthern and YorkshireHospital
1999JulyNorth WestPublic House
1999JulyWalesCamp Site
1999AugustSouth WestBeach
1999AugustWalesCommunity (Butcher)
1999SeptemberSouth EastRestaurant
1999SeptemberNorth WestNursing Home
1999SeptemberNorthern and YorkshireCommunity


All data are provisional.

Borderline Products

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Government's assessment of the public response to the Medicines Control Agency's proposals for classifying borderline products, as published in its consultation letter MLX 249. [100254]

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Yvette Cooper: As a result of the public response to the consultation proposals, we announced on 16 July that changes would be made. The three principal changes are as follows:

    the review panel to look at the MCA's provisional determinations and advise the licensing authority--the licensing authority will be independent of the MCA;

    if a final determination is challenged, the MCA will have to prove in any criminal proceedings that the product is a medicinal product.

NHS Expenditure (Barnet)

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the total expenditure on all national health services in the borough of Barnet in each of the last five years. [100215]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 29 November 1999]: The information is not available in the format requested. Information on expenditure on National Health Service services is not collected by borough.

Expenditure figures for Barnet Health Authority for 1996-97 to 1998-99 are available as follows. Before 1996-97 funding was allocated to Family Health Services Authorities and HA's separately. Comparable figures are not available. The figure for 1996-97 includes drugs expenditure. Since 1997-98 the majority of drugs expenditure has been accounted for by the Prescription Pricing Authority and cannot be identified by HA. For consistency, the figures have been adjusted to reflect this.


YearHA total expenditure (5)(6)HA expenditure (adjusted) (7)
1998-99 (provisional)209,462208,671

(5) Figures are taken from HA annual accounts which are prepared on a resource basis and therefore differ from cash allocations in each year. Comparisons between years may be distorted by expenditure carried over from the previous year.

(6) These are not the total amounts spent on health care. General dental services expenditure is separately accounted for and cannot be analysed by HA over the three years.

(7) Figures have been reduced by the amount of non-cash limited prescribing expenditure accounted for by the HA in each year.

Oncology Drug Expenditure

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress has been made in assessing the report on the level of oncology drug expenditure in the United Kingdom by the Campaign for Effective and Rational Treatment, and if he will make a statement; [100596]

Yvette Cooper: Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director, will shortly begin to collate data on the provision of chemotherapy and will be discussing with the National Institute for Clinical Excellence the need to

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make available, early, clear guidance on the effectiveness of new and emerging cancer drugs. Professor Richards has already started to meet key professional groups to discuss how they can best work with him to start to address the challenging cancer agenda and is planning to meet the Campaign for Effective and Rational Treatment early in the new year.


Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he next plans to meet the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition to discuss the public health aspects of malnutrition. [100632]

Yvette Cooper: I am aware of several letters from hon. Members enclosing invitations to meet the British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. I will reply to these shortly.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the level of malnutrition among hospital patients in the United Kingdom. [100630]

Yvette Cooper: The number of admissions to National Health Service hospitals in England with a diagnosis of malnutrition during the financial year 1997-98 was 6,293.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost saving of early detection and treatment of malnutrition among hospital patients. [100631]

Yvette Cooper: In 1992 the King's Fund reported that nutritional support of malnourished patients could lead to reduced complication rates and reduced length of hospital stay. They estimated that this might lead to a saving of up to £266 million annually in Britain.

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