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9 Jan 2003 : Column 326W—continued


Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the availability of the Depo-Provera injection; what the effect is of the level of availability; and what steps his Department is taking in response. [88242]

Ms Blears: Departmental officials became aware in early November that there was a shortage of the injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera, which was caused by production problems. Officials have been in regular contact with the manufacturer of this product to assist rapid action to alleviate the shortage. Doctors were advised that if Depo-Provera was unavailable locally they should agree with women individually the most suitable alternative form of contraception for them. Supplies of this product are now available but due to the previous shortages, it may take several weeks for the situation to fully return to normal. Departmental officials will continue to closely monitor the situation.

Drug Treatment

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of people suffering from addiction to class A and B drugs are receiving treatment for that addiction. [88766]

Ms Blears: This information is not available centrally.

In England, during the year 2000–01 the overall number of drug users reported as being in treatment was around 118,500.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health of those undergoing drug treatment, how many (a) were referred by a GP, (b) are under GP supervision, (c) are heroin addicts, (d) have a dual diagnosis, (e) are prescribed (i) methadone and (ii) Subutex and (f) are in residential rehabilitation. [86695]

Ms Blears: Information on drug users undergoing treatment is as follows:

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In 2001–02, 16 per cent. of drug users presenting to drug treatment agencies in England were reported as having been referred by a general practitioner 1 .

In the six month period ending 31 March 2001 around 35,100 clients were reported at drug treatment agencies in England; around 1,900, or five per cent. were reported to be clients presenting to general practitioners 2 .

In 2001–02, 73 per cent. of individual drug users who presented to drug treatment agencies in England were reported as having heroin as their main problem drug 3 .

Information about dual diagnosis is not available centrally.

In the six month period ending 31 March 2001, about 8,000 drug misusers presenting for treatment were reported as having been prescribed methadone, amounting to 60 per cent. of all those who had been prescribed a treatment drug, and 420 buprenorphine, or three per cent. Information was collected when the individual first presented for treatment and other drugs may subsequently have been prescribed, as treatment developed 4 .

Drug/Alcohol Treatment (Epsom)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 11 December 2002, Official Report, columns 392–93W, if he will make a statement on the future of the Greenbank Drug and Alcohol Inpatient Unit at West Park in Epsom. [88361]

Ms Blears: Information on unit closures is not routinely collected centrally. However, I am advised by Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority that the Greenbank Unit is planned to close in March 2003. This decision was taken following a full public consultation.

Surrey Oaklands National Health Service Trust has been working closely with service users and a multi-agency steering group to restructure services to meet the needs of a wider range of service users. This includes a stronger focus on drug users and socially excluded groups.

Herbal Medicines Directive

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what pharmaceutical production and testing standards will be imposed on herbal remedies by the proposed Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive. [88687]

Ms Blears: The production and testing standards under the proposed Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products would be those which apply to herbal medicines with a marketing authorisation, but modified to the extent that there would not be a

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requirement to demonstrate the efficacy of a product for which a traditional use registration was sought. The proposed requirements are intended to provide appropriate consumer protection, for example, by ensuring that the correct ingredients of appropriate quality and free from unacceptable levels of contamination are used and that the proposed shelf life of the product can be supported. The specific requirements include meeting European guidelines on Good Manufacturing Practice for herbal medicines and compliance with the European Pharmacopoeia monographs for products of herbal origin.

Home Care

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many households received older person home care in each of the last five years. [83765]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 28 November 2002]: At 31 March 2002, 661,000 older people were helped to live at home through the provision of a variety of community-based social services, an increase of 4 per cent., from 638,000 in March 1999. Community-based social services include day care, meals, transport and equipment as well as home care.

Homeless People

Tim Loughton : To ask the Secretary of State for Health which studies are looking at screening homeless people more effectively; and when they will be finalised. [83324]

Ms Blears [holding answer 25 November 2002]: I am not aware of any Government studies currently looking at the effectiveness of health screening programmes for homeless people.

Hospital Discharge and Readmission

Mr. Paul Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many delayed hospital discharges there were associated with (a) delays in housing adaptations, (b) assessment for re-housing needs, and (c) other services provided by local authority housing departments in each year since 1997; [85707]

Jacqui Smith: Information from quarter 2 of 2002–03 on the numbers and percentage of delayed discharges and emergency readmissions for over 75s, at primary care trust level, has been placed in the Library. No further breakdown of this data is collected centrally.

We have recently announced the introduction of the access and systems capacity grant, which is a special grant to local councils to expand community based social care services and reduce hospital discharge. This is the first specific departmental investment in home improvement agencies and will contribute to reductions in delayed discharges by prompt supply of housing repairs and adaptations.

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Informed Consent

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government have to legislate on the subject of informed consent by or on behalf of incompetent patients in advance of the implementation of European Directive 2001/20/CE. [86978]

Ms Blears: There are no plans to introduce such legislation prior to the introduction of the regulations to implement European Directive 2001/20/EC.

Mental Health

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children under the age of 16 are receiving treatment for mental health problems. [88526]

Jacqui Smith: Children and adolescents with mental health problems are seen in a wide variety of health, social care, education and other settings, mainly at primary care level, by a wide variety of professionals. Information on total amounts is not collected centrally.

National Drugs Treatment Monitoring System

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the budget for the national drugs treatment monitoring system is; and by how much the system is projected to exceed its budget. [88359]

Ms Blears: The development of the national drug treatment monitoring system (NDTMS) has been seen as a priority project and a substantial investment has been made not only to develop the system, but also to maintain it for the next seven years. The cost of the system was originally estimated as follows:

Cost of Development543,484
Cost of support and maintenance over 7 years600,650
Total cost over 7 years1,144,134

As with any large scale project there will always be unforeseen additional requirements, which will need further investments. In the case of the NDTMS project, additional investments have been required to maintain the interim system and to ensure the development of the full software system remains on track. At present it is estimated that the original budget for the project has been exceeded by some 8 per cent.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the nature and objectives of the national drugs treatment monitoring system. [88360]

Ms Blears: The national drug treatment monitoring system (NDTMS) is the national system for collecting information about problem drug users presenting for and entering into structured drug treatment services. The NDTMS will also gather information on the number of people who sustain and complete treatment programmes. The primary function of the NDTMS is to provide information on the national drugs strategy treatment target:

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The system will become fully operational on 1 April 2003.

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