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CJD Clusters

Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) undertaken at (i) a local and (ii) a national level into potential clusters at vCJD cases in (A) Queniborough, Leicestershire and (B) Armthorpe, South Yorkshire; [137115]

Yvette Cooper: The National CJD Surveillance Unit investigate all cases of vCJD to identify common factors. All possible groupings of cases are being considered. Local health authorities are involved where localised investigations of groups of cases are appropriate. The Department is actively working with scientists from the CJD Surveillance Unit, health care specialists and others to draw up a protocol to investigate all suspected "clusters". One investigation has already been set up into the grouping of cases at Queniborough.

NHS (Routine Screening)

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to extend routine screening in the NHS. [135847]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 1 November 2000]: The National Health Service Plan made a clear commitment to extending routine screening.

Women aged 65-70 will be offered routine breast screening; cervical screening technologies will be improved; and colorectal cancer screening will be introduced should the current pilot studies demonstrate its effectiveness. The United Kingdom National Screening Committee will continue its review of prostate cancer screening.

By 2004, there will also be new screening programmes for women and children, including equitable, high quality antenatal screening, screening for haemoglobinopathies and neonatal deafness.

Children's Food

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment his Department has made of the regulations applying to (a) children's food and (b) baby food; and if he will make a statement. [136565]

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Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 November 2000]: Foods for children and babies are subject to the same legislation as applies to foodstuffs generally. In addition there are specific regulations controlling the composition, labelling and (in the case of infant formula only) advertising of infant formula and baby foods. These regulations are amended from time to time to take account of advances in the scientific understanding of the needs of babies.

Breast Cancer Screening

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on breast cancer screening for the over 65s in (a) Coventry, South and (b) nationally. [136693]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 November 2000]: The National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP) invites women aged 50-64 to be screened by mammography every three years, and women over 65 are eligible for screening every three years on request. A total of 88,119 women over 65 were screened in England in 1998-99, of which 954 were screened in Coventry. The Coventry screening programme covers Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull.

The NHS Cancer Plan announced that the NHSBSP will extend routine invitations for screening to women aged 65-70 by 2004. Women aged over 70 will be offered free three yearly screening on request, as women over 65 are now. It is anticipated that the first breast screening programmes in England will start inviting women over 65 in 2001-02, with all programmes starting by 2004, benefiting 400,000 women each year.

Healthy Living Centres

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the role of healthy living centres in the Government's public health strategy. [136585]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 November 2000]: The New Opportunities Fund is responsible for funding the healthy living centre initiative. Healthy living centre applicants need to demonstrate that their projects will support national and local health strategies. Healthy living centres will have a key role to play in reducing inequalities and supporting the work of other statutory and voluntary agencies locally.

Health Inequalities

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to narrow the health gap between rich and poor areas. [136696]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 November 2000]: The National Health Service Plan announced a stronger role in prevention for the NHS working in partnership with others. By 2003 reducing inequalities will be a key criterion for allocating NHS resources. For the first time ever we will create national health inequalities targets to narrow the health gap in childhood and throughout life between socio-economic groups and between the most deprived areas and the rest of the country. Specific targets will be developed in consultation with external

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stakeholders and expert advice, as the new national statistics classification becomes available early in 2001. A copy of the NHS Plan has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to reduce health inequalities (a) nationally and (b) in Coventry, South. [136695]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 November 2000]: Prevention was identified as one of the five challenges in the National Health Service Plan that needed to be addressed. In addition, it announced a stronger role in prevention for the NHS working in partnership with others. By 2003, reducing inequalities will be a key criterion for allocating NHS resources. For the first time ever we will create national health inequalities targets to narrow the health gap in childhood and throughout life between socio-economic groups and between the most deprived areas and the rest of the country.

Coventry Health Authority's Health Improvement Programme for 2000-03 identified tackling health inequalities as a key priority and has designated six areas of the city as health action areas. These areas, including three in Coventry, South, have the greatest level of deprivation and health need. Health professionals are working with local people and partner organisations to develop health action and service plans.

The National Health Service will respond to different needs of different populations. Efforts will continually be made to reduce unjustified variations and raise standards to achieve a truly National Health Service.

Heart Disease

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to end local variations in accessing treatment for heart disease in Coventry. [136580]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 November 2000]: The Coventry Health Authority and the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust approach to access to cardiac treatment and preventative services is in line with the National Service Framework (NSF) for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). The local health community has identified key priority areas which will further promote fair and equitable access to treatment for heart disease. Actions are under way to implement the NSF for CHD at a local level in line with the key milestones set nationally.

Walsgrave Hospital is opening a rapid chest pain clinic early next year to promote access to a specialist for all patients with new onset chest pain which their general practitioner thinks might be due to angina.

General practices in Coventry are developing CHD registers and will ensure that an increasingly equitable approach to primary care for CHD patients is adopted.

Coventry has been proactive in developing hospital based smoking cessation services in addition to those set up in the community. Referral to the hospital smoking cessation team will become an extension of the treatment package offered to patients with CHD in Coventry.

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Teenage Pregnancies

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to reduce the number of unplanned teenage pregnancies (a) nationally and (b) in the West Midlands. [136697]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 6 November 2000]: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, East (Ms Prentice) on 14 June 1999, Official Report, columns 17-18.

The Social Exclusion Unit's report on teenage pregnancy, published on 14 June 1999, sets out a 30 point action plan working across Government. It sets out a £60 million package to tackle the issue, and highlights two main goals: reducing the number of teenage conceptions, with the specific aim of halving the rate of conceptions among under 18s by 2010; and getting more teenage parents into education, training or employment to reduce their risk of long term social exclusion.

Copies of the report are available in the Library.

Following the launch of the report, every area in England now has a local teenage pregnancy co-ordinator in place, making a total of 141. Their role is to develop strategies to tackle teenage pregnancy in their area, in consultation with local communities. They will report annually on progress to the Department of Health. £7.5 million has been made available for innovative local projects in the current financial year.

The NHS Plan has set an interim target of achieving a 15 per cent. reduction in under-18 conception rates by 2004.

New guidance on sex and relationship education was issued to schools in July. A national media campaign began at the end of October, when the first adverts appeared in teenage magazines. The campaign was developed drawing on comprehensive research on what works best with young people. It is aimed as much at boys as at girls.

During 2000-01, we provided funding of over £1 million to the West Midlands to develop local services to prevent teenage pregnancy and support teenage parents. Specific initiatives include a Sexual Health and Drugs Outreach Work (SHADOW) project in Coventry that addresses sexual health, pregnancy and healthy lifestyles for young people. This will link to a one-stop shop, due to open shortly in Coventry city centre, to deliver a number of services such as Connexions, youth information and a general advice and counselling service for young people. A mobile sexual health and advice clinic has been set up in North Staffordshire, enabling young people to access services in youth and leisure facilities.


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