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Accident and Emergency (Child Transit)

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the Department recommends a minimum (a) distance and (b) travel time for the safe transit of children to a NHS accident and emergency unit. [117764]

Jacqui Smith: The Department of Health does not recommend a minimum distance and travel time for children attending an accident and emergency unit. This will be subject to clinical judgement and local circumstances. Children need access to the closest unit which offers appropriate initial assessment and treatment. Where there is need for paediatric intensive care or other specialist intervention following the child's resuscitation and stabilisation, then onward transfer to a unit specialising in this form of care, and offering the best achievable outcome for the child, will be arranged.


Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve respite care and other facilities to support patients with dementia under the age of 65 in the community. [118143]

Jacqui Smith: The majority of people with dementia are cared for at home, which can be a very demanding and exhausting task for their carers. Their carers are entitled to an assessment to determine their needs as carers and eligibility for support. The carers grant, worth £100 million this year, provides money for local councils to provide short breaks and services for carers to enable them to continue in their caring role. Carers are also entitled to cash payments for carers' services to enable them to purchase the type of support they require and promote a better quality of life.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 22 May 2003, Official Report, column 966–67W, on dentistry, what research he has commissioned on the long term effects of people being unable to access non-urgent oral health services; and if he will make a statement. [116914]

Mr. Lammy: No specific research has been commissioned on the long-term effects of people being unable to access non-urgent oral health services.

The Health Technology Assessment Programme has recently published a systematic review and economic evaluation of the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of routine dental checks. It concluded that more work needed to be done on this area. A copy of this has been placed in the Library.

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The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has been asked to prepare guidance for the national health service in England and Wales on the clinical and cost effectiveness of the six month recall period for individual patients at an interval based on the risk from oral disease.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many osteoporosis (a) units and (b) nurses there are; and if he will make a statement. [116637]

Jacqui Smith: This information is not collected centrally.

A range of professionals across a number of specialties are involved in providing treatment for osteoporosis in both primary and secondary care settings.

Many of these health professionals will deal with osteoporosis alongside other conditions. It is therefore not possible to identify either specific units or exact numbers of professionals involved.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library the advice by the Chief Medical Officer on whether SARS should be made a notifiable disease. [110962]

Ms Blears: Under Paragraph 4 for the Code of Practice on Open Government, internal documents are not routinely published.

Based on information from the World Health Organisation, the Chief Medical Officer recommended that making severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) a notifiable disease from the outset, would slow down the reporting of probable cases at a critical time. Moreover, there was nothing to suggest that people with possible SARS or their contacts would set out to reject medical help and advice and thus require compulsory detention. This is however, an evolving situation and this policy is kept under constant review.


Motoring Convictions

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many motorists have been convicted in the last 12 months for which figures are available for misuse of or breach of the restrictions surrounding the use of flashing amber beacons. [115370]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Home Office Court Proceedings Database for England and Wales does not separately identify offences associated with the misuse or breach of flashing amber beacons from other summary motoring lighting offences.

Animal Welfare

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria he applies when deciding the form a Government investigation should take into

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allegations that the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate has failed to fulfil its role properly in relation to a particular establishment. [117605]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: There are no set criteria, as the handling of such allegations against the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate must be determined in the light of the particular circumstances of each case. I must reserve the right on each occasion to commission whatever form of investigation seems to be most appropriate.

I should add that the Government has confidence in the integrity and high professional standards of the Inspectorate, and in the rigorous way the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 is administered and enforced.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government is taking to reduce the number of animals used in scientific procedures. [117606]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 the Home Office can only license the use of animals for scientific purposes where there is no non-animal alternative, and then only when both the number of animals and their suffering is minimised. This reflects the principles of the 3Rs—replacement, reduction and refinement.

As a regulator the Home Office has no control over the number of project licence applications which it receives. While therefore we must seek to minimise the number of animals used in particular programmes of work, the Home Office cannot influence the overall amount of animal research and testing which takes place—that is determined by many other factors, including the economic climate and global trends in scientific endeavour.

Although scientific activity has increased dramatically since the 1986 Act was introduced, technical progress with development and adoption of 3Rs strategies has resulted in an overall reduction in the number of animals used each year over the same period. There are, however, current developments—such as advances in the use that can be made of genetically modified animals, and the proposed European chemical testing strategy—which may in coming years reverse that trend and lead to more rather than fewer animals being used.

The Government fully supports and encourages development and promotion of the 3Rs in a number of ways, and additional impetus has been given to its efforts to that end by the related recommendations recently put forward by the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures. One of those recommendations—that there should be a centre for the 3Rs—is now being considered by the Inter-Departmental Group on the 3Rs, which is also reviewing the effectiveness of the Inter-Departmental Datasharing Concordat.

This is not however an area where quick gains can be expected. In the longer term we must rely for any further significant reduction in animal use largely on the scientific community's own continuing efforts to develop, validate and adopt non-animal alternative methods.

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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to establish a culture of care in laboratories which carry out scientific procedures on animals. [117607]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In their Report published last year, the House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures recognised the progress that had been made since the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 came into force, in fostering a culture of care in establishments designated under that legislation.

The culture of care as regards animals used in scientific procedures in the United Kingdom is indeed probably better than anywhere else in the world, and we remain committed to maintaining and improving that position.

The animals must be housed and cared for in accordance with codes of practice published and laid before Parliament under the 1986 Act. These codes set standards which have to be met as a requirement of licence conditions, and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate closely monitors compliance.

A number of other measures have, we believe, contributed to a culture of care. These have included the mandatory training of prospective and existing licence holders, and of named veterinary surgeons—and we plan shortly to bring in such training for named animal care and welfare officers—and the introduction and development of ethical review processes in designated establishments. Expansion of the Inspectorate is also beginning to make a difference in this area, as it enables more resources to be devoted to the proactive dissemination and promotion of best care and husbandry practice. Moreover, we continue to encourage communication and networking among licence holders so that best practice can be shared, and we continue to press for the highest standards to be incorporated in European legislation.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research or training the Government are funding abroad concerning animals in scientific procedures; and if it is his policy that the requirements of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) 1986 Act are followed in such cases. [117608]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Government accept that Government-funded procedures should be consistent with the principles of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Home Office does not routinely collect information on the funding of such research, or training. I shall, however, consult Government colleagues and write to the hon. Member.

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