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14 Jan 2003 : Column 524W—continued

Generic Drugs

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many generic drugs have been prescribed in (a) England and (b) each region in each of the last five years. [88805]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 7 January 2003]: Information on the number of prescription items of generic drugs dispensed in the community in the last five years is shown in the table.

Number of genetically prescribed items and total number of prescription items that were dispensed in the community, 1997 to 2001 by regional office, England

Regional office area
Northern and YorkshireTrentWest MidlandsNorth WestEasternLondonSouth EastSouth WestEngland
Generically prescribed items4431315028364528292
Total items(2)7056558050627749500
Generically prescribed items4733345330384831314
Total items(2)7357578252637950513
Generically prescribed items5036375633415234339
Total items(2)7559598454658252530
Generically prescribed items5642416139455938381
Total items(2)7862618757668655552
Generically prescribed items6247456843496542422
Total items(2)8366659261699159587

(2) The total number of prescription items includes dressings and appliances.


1. The data are from the Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) system from the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA) and cover prescription items dispensed by community pharmacists, appliance contractors, dispensing doctors and items personally administered.

2. Figures in the table have been rounded to the nearest million. Therefore the sum of the Regional Offices may not equal the England total.

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Genetics Green Paper

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will publish the Green Paper on Genetics. [88363]

Ms Blears: The Green Paper on genetics will be published shortly.

Health Screening (NHS Staff)

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what health screening tests are carried out on (a) existing NHS staff and (b) prospective recruits; and what are planned. [90188]

Mr. Hutton: Applicants for work in the national health service are required to pass a number of pre-employment checks prior to receiving an unconditional offer of employment. These include verification of qualifications, identity, professional registration, criminal records and occupational health. Guidance on pre-employment checks was issued to NHS employers under the cover of a Direction for the Secretary of State, in June 2002.

Following the recommendations made by an expert working group the Government is currently consulting the professions and patient organisations regarding the introduction of additional health clearance for serious communicable diseases.


John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many GPs prescribe drugs to combat heroin addiction, broken down by region. [82274]

Ms Blears: The information is not available centrally in this form.

In the six month period ending 31 March 2001 around 35,100 clients were reported at drug treatment agencies in England.

Of these, around 1,700 or five per cent. were reported to be clients presenting to general practitioners.

The information on the breakdown by region is shown in table 15 of the Statistical Bulletin, XStatistics from the Regional Drug Misuse Databases for the six months ending March 2001". The full Statistical Bulletin is available in the Library and on the Department's website at

Table 15

Agency episodes reported by regional office area and health authority of treatment by type of agency during the period 1 October 2000–31 March 2001, provides information on the number of NHS funded general practices that have provided prescribing services to drug users by region.

Northern and Yorkshire322
South East564
West Midlands104
North West160
South WestNot Available

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Illness Prevention

Norman Baker : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what priority his Department places on the prevention of illnesses. [90209]

Ms Blears: The Department—and this Government as a whole—places the highest priority on preventing illness, promoting the health of all and improving the health of the poorest fastest. This means tackling inequalities, and reducing mortality from cancer and coronary heart disease—the two biggest killers in England. As well as reducing the burden caused by infectious diseases.

Public Health (Landfill Sites)

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has received from the Health and Safety Executive regarding the effects of landfill sites on public health. [88595]

Ms Blears: The Department of Health has received no assessment from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regarding the effects of landfill sites on public health.

The HSE contributes to a grant to the small area health statistics unit (SAHSU) at Imperial College, jointly with the Department of Health, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency, the Scottish Executive, the National Assembly of Wales and the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. SAHSU was commissioned to carry out a national study of birth outcomes and cancer around landfill sites.

The results for birth outcomes were published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 (Elliott et al BMJ 2001: 323: 363–8: available at The results for the cancer outcomes were published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2002 (Jarup et al 2002: 86: 1732–6). A fuller report of the study may be found at the Department of Health website at: augl3.pdf. The study found a small increase in congenital anomalies in populations living close to landfill sites. There was no suggestion of excess risks of cancer associated with landfill sites. The Department sought advice on the study from the independent expert Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT). COT noted that the findings for birth outcomes were not consistent, and that the study provided no evidence that the rates of anomalies increased after sites had opened. The opinion of the COT may be found at:

Life Resources Incorporated

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations were (a) sought and

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(b) received from the Scottish Executive regarding the purchase of Life Resources Incorporated; and what consultations have taken place between his Department and the Scottish Executive regarding access to resources stored in Life Resources Incorporated; [88780]

Ms Blears [holding answer 13 January 2003]: The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) has its own independent sources of non-UK plasma. The Scottish Executive were therefore not involved in the Government's decision to purchase Life Resources Incorporated to secure supplies of non-UK plasma for the national health service in England.Accordingly, no consultations or financial transactions took place with the Scottish Executive concerning the purchase of Life Resources and the Scottish Executive will have no involvement in the future management of the company.

SNBTS is not currently supplied with plasma by Life Resources Incorporated. Should SNBTS decide in future to tender for plasma supplies, Life Resources could be one of a number of commercial plasma suppliers that might compete for this contract.

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