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3 May 2000 : Column: 166W
Getting more teenage parents into education, training or employment to reduce their risk of long term social exclusion.
Yvette Cooper: We are advised on all matters concerning immunisation by the independent expert committee, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The committee keeps all immunisation policies under review. Recommendations on the use of BCG vaccine were last reviewed by the committee during 1996 and they advised that the schools immunisation programme should continue. This recommendation remains unchanged although, due to problems with supply of BCG vaccine, the schools part of the BCG programme is currently in suspension.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the number of reported cases of TB in (a) 1970, (b) 1980, (c) 1990 and (d) each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Public Health Laboratory Service data
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Yvette Cooper: The average cost to the National Health Service of treating a patient with tuberculosis is not available. However, information on the national average cost for the inpatient treatment of an individual patient with tuberculosis for the 1998-99 financial year is available from the National Schedule of Reference Costs and is as follows:
|Elective inpatient||Non elective inpatient||Day case|
|Pulmonary or pleural tuberculosis||1,770||1,676||295|
Costs are the national average for inpatient treatment for patients with tuberculosis calculated from the individual NHS trust figures provided on an annual basis.
The length of inpatient stay for patients with tuberculosis varies. It should be noted that treatment for tuberculosis can last for six months or more and for most of this time the patient will not be hospitalised.
Yvette Cooper: Information provided by the Office for National Statistics shows that, between 1970 and 1979, there were 8,781 reported deaths from tuberculosis in England and Wales; between 1980 and 1989 there were 5,028 reported deaths from tuberculosis; and, between 1990 and 1998 (the latest available date for which data are available) there were 3,621 reported deaths from tuberculosis.
Yvette Cooper: We are advised on all matters concerning immunisation by the independent expert committee, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The committee keeps all immunisation policies under review.
3 May 2000 : Column: 168W
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason there was a shortage of tuberculosis vaccinations between October 1999 and April 2000; and what steps his Department has taken to improve the supply of vaccinations. 
Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the replies given to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) on 11 January 2000, Official Report, columns 143-44W and on 13 April 2000, Official Report, column 282W.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions have taken place between Ministers in his Department and the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency regarding the restoration of tuberculosis testing within secondary schools. 
Yvette Cooper: The National Health Service Purchasing and Supply Agency (formally NHS Supplies) provides a procurement service for the Department and does not make recommendations on the use of the vaccines.
The programme to test for tuberculosis and to immunise with BCG vaccine continues for people in higher risk groups, whatever their age. Only the routine BCG immunisation programme in schools is in suspension at present.
Mr. Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence his Department has assessed concerning the dangers to health from fibreglass used for insulation purposes; and if he will make a statement. 
Yvette Cooper: The Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment have considered the carcinogenicity of those man made mineral fibres (glass, rock and slag wool) used for insulation purposes on a number of occasions since 1984. Their advice is that domestic exposures arising from infrequent or short-term do-it-yourself installation do not pose a carcinogenic risk. It was their view that these materials do not meet the European Union's criteria for classification of compounds as carcinogens. However there was limited evidence that occupational exposure was associated with lung cancer, although no definite conclusions could be drawn because there was a lack of information about confounding factors, such as tobacco smoking. It would be prudent, however, to act on the basis that sufficient occupational exposure may increase the risk of lung cancer.
Mr. Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how clinicians, general practitioners and primary care staff are kept updated on vaccine availability; and what plans he has to improve the arrangements. 
Yvette Cooper: Vaccine Update is a monthly newsletter produced by the National Health Service Purchasing and Supply Agency (formally NHS Supplies). It is the primary source of advice for health professionals on vaccine availability. About 7,000 copies are centrally distributed each month and further copying occurs locally.
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There is a contact name and telephone number on this newsletter for inquiries. The central distributor, Farillon, also answers inquiries.
Plans are in hand to alter the format of this newsletter to allow it to be available via the Internet. Any urgent communications can also be made to health professionals via the Public Health Link system, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) letters and the CMO Update.
Mr. Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received concerning the distribution arrangements for the national vaccination programme and the performance of Farillon. 
Any representations from those involved in the vaccine programme are directed to Farillon and brought to the attention of NHS PSA. A monthly meeting is held between the Department, the National Health Service Purchasing and Supply Agency and Farillon to review performance. Any concerns are dealt with at such times.
A recent example of a new initiative in distribution has been the allocation model used to supply the new Meningococcal C conjugate vaccine. This has enabled over 10 million doses to date of this vaccine to be distributed equitably across the country in line with the roll-out of the campaign. No other country in the world currently has the facility to provide such a service with direct delivery to general practitioners on a weekly basis through a guaranteed cold chain computerised service. GPs are now able to review their future supplies through Internet access. The distribution arrangements are kept under continual review.
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