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Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time has been for a heroin addict in Plymouth to obtain (a) detoxification and (b) rehabilitation treatment in the last 12 months. [59744]

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Ms Blears: The average waiting time in Plymouth for a heroin addict to obtain in-patient opiate detoxification is currently four to six weeks, and to obtain an assessment for residential rehabilitation treatment is eight weeks. Waiting times post assessment vary, according to a number of factors, between four and twelve weeks.


Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the drug CPHPC in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and adult onset diabetes; and if he will commission further research into the effectiveness of the drug CPHPC in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and adult onset diabetes. [60684]

Ms Blears: There are at present no plans to carry out, through the National Institute for Clinical Excellence or the health technology assessment programmes, an assessment of or research into the effectiveness of the drug CPHPC for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes. We are aware of the development work currently being undertaken and will be very interested in its conclusions.

Alcohol Treatment Services

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to his answer of 7 May 2002, Official Report, column 100W, on alcohol abuse, what advice his Department gives to primary care trusts on assessing local needs for alcohol treatment services and on ensuring that those needs are met through commissioning services. [60389]

Ms Blears: Primary care trusts are responsible for securing health services for their local population and are accountable to strategic health authorities for discharging their functions effectively, including their commissioning responsibilities. In addition, the national primary and care trust development programme was established last year to support the organisational development of primary care trusts.

Primary care trusts will be expected to honour existing agreements (financial and otherwise) previously negotiated by regional specialised commissioning groups and other specialised service commissioners. In 2002–03 regional specialised commissioning groups will also have a specific role in developing primary care trust capacity to commission specialised services as part of a planned transition to successor arrangements.

It is important to ensure that primary care trusts provide high quality public health services. Each primary care trust will have a director of public health and a multi- disciplinary health team whose focus will be on improving health and tackling inequalities. This will help to ensure that primary care trusts are well placed to assess and meet local need for alcohol treatment services.

Natural Health Products

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health upon what basis the Medicines Control Agency included in its Regulatory Impact Assessment of the European Traditional Herbal Medicines and Products Directive the statement that for many retailer, herbal remedies currently constitute a relatively limited proportion of shelf space;

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with whom they consulted before presenting this statement; and what calculations they have made of the percentage of turnover such products represent for a typical specialist health food retailer. [60200]

Ms Blears: During preparation of the partial regulatory impact assessment (RIA), the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) visited a number of retail outlets, including health food shops, pharmacies and supermarkets. The Agency's broad assessment was that, typically, herbal remedies often form part of a wider range of products including for example, vitamins, minerals, other nutrients, organic food and a varied range of other herbal products that would not be classified as medicines. Clearly the proportion of shelf space allocated to herbal remedies varies significantly as between different retailers.

The partial RIA is currently under consultation and the Agency would welcome quantified information from retailing interests about the proportion of overall sales which relates to over the counter herbal remedies, that is remedies where the active ingredients are herbal only.

The MCA continues to receive feedback from key organisations in the herbal sector, such as UK manufacturers of traditional herbal remedies, that the introduction of the standards proposed in the directive is necessary if the long-term prosperity of the sector is to be maintained.

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consultations the Medicines Control Agency has had with (a) the National Association of Health Stores, (b) Consumers for Health Choice, (c) Holland & Barratt Retail Ltd., (d) General Nutrition Centres and (e) other representatives of the specialist health food sector and its consumers, prior to producing its Regulatory Impact Assessment of the European Traditional Herbal Products Directive. [60199]

Ms Blears: The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) has had a wide range of discussions with a large number of interest groups from the herbal sector during development work on the proposed directive on traditional herbal medicinal products. Among those involved have been representatives of manufacturers, retailers, consumers, herbal and other complementary medicine practitioners, pharmacists and a range of individuals with relevant expertise. Interest groups from the health food sector taking part have included the National Association of Health Stores, Consumers for Health Choice, the Health Food Manufacturers's Association (HFMA) and the Institute of Health Food Retailing. In addition to meetings instigated by the MCA, the agency has participated in various conferences and meetings organised by external parties, such as the HFMA and the herbal registration forum, to discuss the implications of the emerging proposals. These discussions continue.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many computers were replaced in his Department in each of the past three years; how the replaced units were disposed of and by which companies; and at what cost. [60758]

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Mr. Lammy: In the last three financial years the Department has replaced the following numbers of personal computers:

Figures for individual offices are not available for financial year 1999–2000. For the following two financial years, figures for the Department's regional offices are as follows:

Number of PCs replaced
2000–01 site
South East and London regional offices190
Eastern regional office64
North West regional office106
Northern and Yorkshire regional office138
South West regional office94
Trent regional office80
West Midlands regional office62
2001–02 regional office
South East and London regional offices67
Eastern regional office18
North West regional office7
Northern and Yorkshire regional office11
South West regional office20
Trent regional office29
West Midlands regional office21


These figures exclude any replacement of equipment not funded from central departmental budgets.


The Department normally disposes of personal computers to commercial companies who formally bid for, refurbish and resell the equipment, or break it down for spare parts. Successful companies have included OCM Business Systems Ltd., Metro Systems Ltd., and Computer Disposal and Recycling Ltd. The Department obtains a small income from this process.

Whenever practicable and bearing in mind the condition of the equipment, the Department also gives a small number of redundant personal computers to schools and charitable organisations.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much Government funding has been allocated to research into the causes of diabetes in each of the last five years. [61376]

Mr. Lammy: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Baillieston (Mr. Wray) on 25 March 2002, Official Report, column 783W.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what extra resources he is making available to fund the National Service Framework for Diabetes; how those resources will be allocated; and if he will make a statement. [61938]

Mr. Lammy: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to him on 12 June 2002, Official Report, columns 1340–41W.

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Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department is carrying out into treatments for gonorrhoea; and if he will make a statement. [61072]

Ms Blears: Appropriate antibiotic treatment should cure all uncomplicated gonococcal infections. However, increasing antimicrobial resistance undermines the effectiveness of treatment and means that the range of drugs available to treat the disease is reduced. We are funding a three-year project, the gonococcal resistance to antimicrobials surveillance programme (GRASP), to develop a national network to systematically monitor levels of antimicrobial resistance in England and Wales.

This enhanced surveillance programme provides a range of data that cannot be obtained from current surveillance systems and a means for more detailed monitoring of disease epidemiology. In addition, the clinical data and outcomes provide a mechanism for monitoring quality of clinical care, adherence to antibiotic prescribing policies and treatment guidelines.

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