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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the provision of Beta-interferon to multiple sclerosis sufferers in the East Surrey health authority area. 
Ms Blears: In line with the recommendation from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence we have concluded an agreement with five companies on an innovative scheme which allows patients with multiple sclerosis meeting the criteria of the Association of British Neurologists to be treated cost-effectively with disease modifying therapies on the national health service. The companies have agreed terms for the supply of their products under the scheme. Patients will be monitored to confirm whether the drugs are working. Prices will be reduced if patients do not benefit as expected. The scheme starts on 6 May 2002.
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Multiple Sclerosis sufferers in the East Surrey area will, from then, have access to beta interferon on the same basis as other NHS patients. NHS bodies are expected to fund any treatment within this scheme prescribed by clinicians for eligible patients, in accordance with statutory directions. Consultant neurologists, in consultation with patients, will have a choice of treatments within the scheme taking into account expected benefit and potential side effects. The products included in the scheme are Avonex (Biogen), Betaferon (Schering), Copaxone (Teva/Aventis), Rebif 22 mg and 44 mg (Serono).
Patients whose condition does not come within the ABN guidelines and who are currently receiving treatment with these drugs will continue to do so in line with NICE's recommendation on this point. I am also taking steps to ensure that those patients who have funded their treatment privately because the drug was not available to them locally on the NHS have had the costs of their prescription met since 4 February.
Copies of the health service circular issued to the NHS to explain the scheme have been placed in the Library.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many representations he has received from the (a) East Yorkshire Primary Care Trust and (b) West Hull Primary Care Trust concerning operational status prior to 1 April. 
Jacqui Smith: Representations have not been received from either the East Yorkshire Primary Care Trust or the West Hull Primary Care Trust concerning operational status prior to 1 April. The primary care trusts were established after full and open consultation locally, giving every opportunity for views and concerns to be expressed and addressed at that stage.
Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the benefits of the drug naltrexone being taken in implant form in the rehabilitation of heroin addicts. 
Ms Blears: No assessment of the benefits of naltrexone being taken in implant form in the rehabilitation of heroin users has yet been made. This is because a sufficiently developed evidence base does not yet exist. Naltrexone in implant form is not currently licensed for this indication in the United Kingdom. The National Treatment Agency (NTA) for drug misuse treatment, will continue to monitor the evidence for this proposed treatment.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the number of clinics which treat lymphoedema in (a) England and (b) Gloucestershire. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 16 April 2002]: Data on the number of lymphoedema clinics across England and at a local level are not collected centrally.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which health bodies have bid for allocations to
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support the provision of digital hearing aids following his Christmas Eve 2001 announcement on the subject; for how much each has bid; what resources are available centrally for this purpose; and when he expects to respond to these bids. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 16 April 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) and the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 465W. Discussions will now take place between the project management team and those sites joining the project to determine the resources each will need.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that (a) electrically powered and (b) manual wheelchairs meet the health and safety requirements of their users in terms of their (i) inherent design, (ii) regular servicing and (iii) planned replacement. 
Ms Blears [holding answer 17 April 2002]: The Medical Devices Agency, (MDA), has specific responsibility on behalf of the Secretary of State to safeguard public health where medical devices are involved.
Within this overall remit, MDA has a specific unit responsible for wheeled mobility devices where all reported incidents concerning the quality or safety of wheelchairs are considered. If the units investigation highlights a need for an improvement in a wheelchairs design, usage or servicing information then appropriate action is taken with the manufacturer/supplier concerned.
MDA has also issued comprehensive guidance to health services relating to the management of medical devices including the provision of appropriate repair and maintenance procedures and the consideration of whole life costs and life cycle of devices. This guidance has now been incorporated into the new NHS Controls Assurance Standards for medical devices to give all health services basic standards in this area.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received regarding people being placed inappropriately in (a) residential care homes and (b) nursing homes. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 17 April 2002]: In recent years the Department of Health has received representations about inappropriate placements. Systematic information on these representations is not collated.
The introduction of the single assessment process, and the development of preventative and intermediate care services, will help to ensure that placements in care homes are appropriate. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 926W.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to his answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 942W, regarding free nursing care, which agencies have failed to pass on the free nursing care payment to residents; 
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(3) pursuant to his answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 942W, regarding free nursing care, what plans she has to provide additional funding to residents of the four homes she wrote to which have failed to receive financial benefit from their free nursing care payment; 
(4) pursuant to his answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 942W, regarding free nursing care, whether she will also be writing to these care homes to inform them of the breach in national model contract. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 17 April 2002]: I continue to receive correspondence on this subject. I wrote to some national providers about the increases in fees that some residents had experienced since the introduction of national health service funded nursing care. It should not be inferred that all those providers have, in every case, failed to pass on to residents any financial benefit from the NHS funding for part of their care. I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave him on 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 942W.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 19 March 2002, Official Report, column 310W, on care homes, when the booklet, 'Moving into a Care Home', was published; how much the booklet cost to produce and distribute; and what other means are being considered to ensure the widest possible circulation; and how much the new booklet has cost to produce. 
Jacqui Smith [holding answer 17 April 2002]: The booklet 'Moving into a Care Home' was published in October 1996. It focused on financial issues for residents. At today's prices, it would cost approximately £10,000 to produce and distribute 3,000 copies of the original booklet free of charge to councils and other interested parties. The booklet was drafted and consulted upon by departmental staff. These and related costs were absorbed within the Department's running costs and are not separately identifiable, and therefore not included in the cost given above.
A voluntary organisation called 'Counsel and Care' has been commissioned to produce a new booklet for people both entering and in residential care that will be much more detailed and cover a much wider range of topics in addition to residents' finances. It will be distributed on the same basis. In addition, an electronic version will be placed on the internet. The Department awarded a grant of £80,000 for Counsel and Care for this work, which will also include the costs of dissemination events in the form of conferences and seminars.
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure the availability of sufficient residential and nursing home places for the elderly. 
Jacqui Smith: Our policy is to enable older people to remain independent in their own homes wherever possible. That is where most people want to receive care. Between 2000 and 2001 there was a 6 per cent. increase in the number of households receiving intensive home care.
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We are providing local authorities with an additional £300 million over this year and last to spend on a range of community care services, including care home placements. In addition, as announced on 17 April by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we intend to increase resources for personal social services by an annual average of 6 per cent. in real terms from 200304 to 200506. Local authorities will be able to use these substantial extra resources to stabilise the care home market and to provide more care home places.
I chair a Strategic Commissioning Group, which aims to improve the commissioning of care services for adults. Last October, the group published an agreement, "Building Capacity and Partnership in Care", which will help councils and independent sector providers to work together to promote a more strategic, inclusive and consistent approach to local capacity planning.
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