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23 Oct 2002 : Column 399W—continued

Food Testing

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what instructions have been given to the Food Standards Agency in relation to its support of local councils responsible for the testing of imported food of non-animal origin. [75920]

Ms Blears: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for issues of food safety, that the Agency's Board has directed the Agency to take forward a ten point plan aimed at improving the co-ordination of enforcement actions and the effectiveness of inspection of imports. The aims of the measures being taken forward include assisting the work of the local food authorities responsible for inspecting imports of products of non-animal origin in the enforcement of such controls.

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The Agency will be working closely with the local food authorities to ensure that their views are taken into account in developing the United Kingdom's position for imminent European Union negotiations on a proposed regulation for feed and food controls which will include rules on import controls for products of non-animal origin

Simian Diseases

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which simian diseases are transmissible to man. [75932]

Ms Blears: There are a number of zoonotic diseases, which can be transmitted from simians to man. These are Simian Herpes B Virus (Herpesvirus simiae), Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), Tuberculosis, Salmonellosis, Campylobacteriosis, Monkeypox, Rabies, Ebola and Marburg viruses, parvoviruses, and helminthic and protozoal infections.

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment his Department has made of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine; and if he will make a statement; [75999]

Ms Blears: The Department asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) an independent expert advisory group, to review all available data on the use of this vaccine and report back. This work has now been carried out and the Department are considering their advice.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have been prescribed the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in the last three years, broken down by NHS Trust; and if he will make a statement. [76007]

Ms Blears: The number of people who have received pneumococcal vaccine can be estimated by the number of prescription items dispensed in the community for pneumococcal vaccine. The amount of pneumococcal vaccine dispensed in England for the last three years is given below.

Number of Prescription Items Dispensed in the Community for Pneumococcal Vaccine, 1997 to 2001

Prescription items (thousands)550.5539.1468.1
Net ingredient cost (# thousands)5,415.05,244.34,682.9
Number of vaccines (thousands)551.8540.3468.4

Attention Disorders

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will set out what measures his Department have taken to (a) inform and (b) train (i) GPs, (ii) nurses, (iii) social workers, (iv) teachers, (v) parents and (vi) children on the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. [75740]

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Jacqui Smith: In recent years the Department has supported a number of initiatives taken by professional bodies and other agencies to raise awareness of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and to facilitate accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. These include an evidence-base briefing for clinicians on the use of stimulant medication (1999) and factsheets for parents, teachers and young people on attention deficit problems and hyperactivity, both produced by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. We have also collaborated with the Department for Education and Skills in issuing guidance for teachers on promoting children's mental health, including attention deficit/hyperactivity, within early years and school settings, in 2001. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), at the suggestion of the Department, undertook an appraisal of the use of the drug methylphenidate for ADHD in children and issued clinical guidelines for its use, including information for patients, in 2000. This guidance was circulated widely among professional groups involved with attention deficit disorders. The Department has also grant-aided the ADHD national alliance, an organisation which helps to co-ordinate voluntary sector activity and development work in this field.

In general the content of professional training is a matter for the relevant professional bodies. However the Department's requirements for social work training from September 2003 will include elements covering child development and mental health and communication skills with children.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimates he has made of the number of children suffering from (a) ADD and (b) ADHD; and if he will make a statement. [75735]

Jacqui Smith: No estimates of prevalence that differentiate between attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been commissioned centrally. The prevalence of ADHD of all types is estimated at around five per cent. of school-aged children, approximately 345,000 six to 16 year olds in England. A survey by the Office for National Statistics of the mental health of children and adolescents in Great Britain, published in 2000, found the prevalence of hyperkinetic disorders, including the severer forms of ADHD, to be 1.4 per cent. of five to 15 year olds.


Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to provide Government support for tinnitus research. [74785]

Mr. Lammy: The main Government agency for research into the causes and treatments of disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC), which receives its funding from the Department of Trade and Industry. The MRC spent about #5 million in 2000–01 on hearing research generally, much of which is basic in nature but some of which may well have a bearing on the causes and treatment of tinnitus. Included in this figure is a major investment in the MRC Institute of Hearing Research.

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The MRC is independent in its day-to-day research funding decisions, which take account of both health needs and scientific vision and opportunity. The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for financial support into any aspect of biomedical research and these are judged in open competition with other demands on funding. The MRC does not, as a rule, earmark funds for particular topics; research proposals in all areas will compete for the funding available.

The Department funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in health and social care. The Department's research programmes are not funding any projects related to tinnitus, and there are no current plans to commission such work. The Department does, however, provide National Health Service support funding for research commissioned by the research councils and charities that takes place in the NHS.


David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list external (a) public relations/communications companies, (b) advertising and marketing companies, (c) management consultancies, (d) accountancy companies, (e) banking firms, (f) individual consultants and (g) other specialist consultancies used by his Department since June 2001; what actions those consultancies/companies have performed within his Department; and what costs have been incurred through use of these consultancies/companies. [74680]

Mr. Lammy: Information is not held centrally in the form requested and could not be provided except at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to reply to Mr. J. A. Gibson's letter of Chiltern Drive, Barton on Sea, of 27 July, regarding the Access to Health Records Act 1990. [74659]

Mr. Lammy: The Department has no record of receiving this correspondence. The Department's Ministerial correspondence unit has requested a duplicate.

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what performance targets have been set for answering correspondence; and to what extent these targets are being met. [74272]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 21 October 2002]: The Department's target for answering correspondence is 20 days, set by the Cabinet Office and known as the Service First Targets. The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report on the performance of each Department. The Report for 2001 was published on Friday, 24 May 2002. Copies of previous reports are available in the Library.

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