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Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the numbers of wheelchairs (a) supplied and (b) kept in storage in Cornwall in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Hutton: 5,523 residents in Cornwall have a wheelchair issued by the Disablement Services Centre at Derriford Hospital. In 2000, 1,680 wheelchairs were issued of which 50 per cent. were new and 50 per cent. reconditioned. A number of wheelchairs are held in store at any one time, in the course of transfer to new users, or during repair.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of beef imports from Germany are subject to BSE checks of the kind that resulted in the recent discovery of specified risk material contamination in Northern Ireland. 
Ms Stuart [holding answer 30 January 2001]: As a general rule, fresh meat imported into the United Kingdom from other European Union member states is subject only to random spot checks at places of destination. The responsibility for ensuring that only meat which complies with EU hygiene and BSE controls is exported to other member States rests with the competent authorities in each member state.
However, following the discovery of remnants of spinal cord in a number of consignments of beef imported recently from Germany, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has instructed the Meat Hygiene Service and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland to ensure that all consignments of beef imported from Germany are now inspected in licensed meat plants. The FSA has also written to local authorities to advise them that all meat plants under local authority supervision which are likely to receive consignments of German beef should be subject to further random checks, in which any beef from Germany should be inspected.
Mr. Denham [holding answer 31 January 2001]: The recommendations for developing cardiac services across the north-west have been accepted in full. Discussions are now progressing well with a view to developing the business case for the Specialist Cardio-Thoracic Centre which will be based at the Blackpool Victoria Hospital. It is hoped that the new unit will be operational by 2005, subject to the availability of capital.
27 Feb 2001 : Column: 615W
Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many school pupils by health authority were both inspected and reinspected by the school dental service in each year since 1990; and if he will make a statement. 
The tables show, for children aged five to 15, the number of screenings by the Community Dental Service (CDS) and the number of episodes of care in the CDS following screening programmes and following recall by the CDS. The number of episodes of care is not available before 1992-93. The information is shown by district health authority up to 1995-96 and by health authority thereafter.
As part of the Dental Strategy we will work with the dental profession to clarify the aims and objectives for school dental screening, so that current best practice in encouraging treatment where necessary after screening becomes routine for all CDS and school dental screening programmes.
Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the hospitals which (a) have been, (b) are and (c) plan to be involved in trials of Misoprostol; what evidence he has collated concerning the drug's effects during the first stages of labour; what representations have been made to the Government on the subject of Misoprostal; if he will review the Government's policy on the use of Misoprostol; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Stuart: Misoprostol is not currently licensed for the induction of labour. The Department has asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to provide clinical guidelines on the induction of labour and their report is expected this summer.
Our view is that until such time as the NICE guidelines are issued, use of misoprostol for the induction of labour should only be administered under properly managed clinical trials where the risks and benefits of the drug are fully explained and understood by women.
Since March 1998, the Medicines Control Agency has received and approved 22 notifications for clinical trials of misoprostol in the United Kingdom from consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists. These notifications have been made under the provisions of the Doctors and Dentists Exemption Scheme. Details of clinical trials, including data collated during trials, are not normally released, without the consent of the parties concerned, as there are legitimate commercial and other confidential interests which cannot be disclosed. Such interests are recognised in the current administrative Code of Practice on Access to Government Information and also in the Freedom of information legislation.
27 Feb 2001 : Column: 616W
Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government have to review their policy concerning the listing of ingredients of animal origin on medicine labels; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Stuart: The labelling of medicinal products for human and animal use is governed by European law, which requires all labels to show certain information including a qualitative and quantitative statement of active ingredients and a list of other key ingredients. It is not possible to introduce a requirement for labels to identify those ingredients of an animal origin without an amendment to European law.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what provision he is making to implement the NICE recommendation to increase the use of ICDs from 17 per million population to 50 per million; 
Mr. Denham: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance on the appropriate use of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) has been circulated very widely: copies were sent to health authorities, National Health Service trusts, general practitioners and many other health professionals, as well as to community health councils and patients' groups. Additional resources have been made available within health authority unified allocations to support the implementation of NICE recommendations generally. Implementation of this NICE guidance on the use of ICDs will lead to an increase in the number of ICDs implanted but, as NICE acknowledge, we will need to develop the capacity to achieve this increase in implantation rates. This will be taken forward within the overall programme of work to improve and expand services for coronary heart disease (CHD) in line with the CHD National Service Framework.
Comprehensive data about implantation rates by region or health authority are not available. The most recent national figures relate to 1998 and show the rate then, as stated in the question, as 17 per million population.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 29 January 2001, Official Report, column 49W, on the Medicines Control Agency, if he will state for each request for information made under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information since 1997 which was not met under the specified 20 days (a) the specific number of days taken for each request, (b) the reasons each request was not met under the specified time and (c) what steps are being taken to ensure that requests for information are routinely met within the specified time limit. 
27 Feb 2001 : Column: 617W
|Reference Number||Number of days taken to reply||Reason request was not met within 20 working days|
|OG/97/12||38||Request required searches of all relevant MCA databases|
|OG/98/18||38||Request raised 10 separate issues requiring input from across MCA. Also raised policy issues as per 98/24|
|OG/98/22||38||An MCA internal procedures document required updating before copy could be provided as requested|
|OG/98/23||127||Request raised five separate issues, some spanning 1987 to early March 1998, which needed search of archived papers. Also raised policy issues as per 98/24|
|OG/98/24||123||Raised issues of policy which needed to be resolved before reply could be sent|
|OG/98/37||83||As per OG/98/24|
|OG/98/44||66||As per OG/98/24|
|OG/98/49||35||Request raised four separate issues requiring search of third party papers|
|OG/98/51||128||Request raised six separate issues requiring search of third party papers|
|OG/98/64||(7)--||Reply subsumed into action re: OG/98/24|
|OG/98/67||30||Reply subsumed into separate correspondence outwith the Code|
|OG/98/76||(8)--||Request cleared by telephone but no record of data made at time|
|OG/98/78||31||Request raised 13 separate issues requiring search of archive papers|
|OG/99/03||169||Request sought replies to consultation exercise. The consultation period had been extended beyond the expiry of the 20 days and then large number of replies had to be checked for confidentiality, copied and collated before reply could be sent|
|OG/99/09||86||Request raised 24 separate issues requiring search of archived papers|
|OG/99/11||23||Information sought not held centrally by the MCA|
|OG/99/24||26||Request sought replies to consultation exercise and replies had to be checked for confidentiality, copied and collated before reply could be sent|
|OG/99/45||33||Partial reply sent within 20 days but supplementary information required to complete reply|
|OG/99/46||62||Involved correspondence with third parties to determine material to be disclosed|
|OG/99/48||64||Request raised 11 separate issues requiring search of archived papers|
|OG/99/50||43||Request raised several separate issues requiring search of archived papers|
|OG/00/20||71||Multiple queries requiring advice from third parties|
|OG/00/22||129||Multiple queries requiring advice from third parties|
|OG/00/23||(9)--||Involves large amount of data and correspondence with third parties to determine material to be disclosed|
|OG/00/25||(9)--||Involves large amount of data and correspondence with third parties to determine material to be disclosed|
|OG/00/27||(9)--||Involves correspondence with third parties to determine material to be disclosed|
(7) Not applicable
(8) Not known
27 Feb 2001 : Column: 617W
Following a recommendation from the Ombudsman, the Medicines Control Agency is currently reviewing its procedures for handling requests under the Code. In addition the Agency is examining the information held by the MCA (which currently totals around 400 different types) to determine, for example, what can be routinely published or what could be pre-prepared in anticipation of requests. This work will intensify over the coming months in preparation for the implementation of the Freedom of Information legislation. These initiatives will streamline arrangements for dealing with requests for information and enable a greater number of inquiries to be answered within 20 working days.
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