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Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department spent on (a) smoking cessation and (b) assistance for people wishing to withdraw from antidepressant medication in each of the past five financial years. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The national health service stop smoking services, formerly smoking cessation services, were launched in the health action zones (HAZs) in 19992000, with services rolled out across the NHS in 200001.
|Allocations (£ million)|
The Department is funding a project run by MIND called Coping With Coming Off (Information and Support for Drug Withdrawal). The project will systematically explore people's experiences of coming off or trying to come off psychiatric drugs with the aim of improving the understanding of what makes withdrawal more or less likely to be successful.
Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 20 December 2004]: None. The independent asthma charity, Asthma UK has set up a national asthma audit on its website. This is regularly updated. Further details are available at http://www.asthma.ora.uk/.
Asthma is the commonest chronic disease in the United Kingdom. Accurate data for numbers affected are difficult to obtain. From the Office of National Statistics general practice database 1996, it was estimated that 6.7 per cent., of men and 6.9 per cent., of women in England and Wales were treated for asthma, about 3.5 million people.
[holding answer 10 January 2005]: This information is not collected centrally. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence appraisal, published in October 2000, of the use of methylphenidate in treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) estimated the prevalence of all types of ADHD at around five per cent, of school-aged childrenapproximately 345,000 six to sixteen year olds in England.
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Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 10 January 2004]: The table shows the total number of prescription items (in thousands) of the chemical entity methylphenidate hydrochloride dispensed in the community in England in 200203 and 200304. The data covers the chemical entity methylphenidate hydrochloride, rather than just Ritalin. Ritalin is one brand of the drug methylphenidate.
|Number pf prescription items (thousands)||Percentage of total items|
|Total for chemical entity methylphenidate hydrochloride||271.3||329.3||100||(148)100|
Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 10 January 2004]: The assessment and treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is usually undertaken by child psychiatrists, often with the help and contribution of other members of multidisciplinary child mental health services. However, it is becoming increasingly common for paediatricians to diagnose and manage ADHD. Even with the children diagnosed as having hyperkinetic disorder(the more severe and specific end of the spectrum(a treatment programme should not rely on medication alone. It is recommended that interventions that focus on the behaviour of the child, family interactions, classroom problems and learning difficulties should be offered. A comprehensive assessment involving more than one professional perspective will highlight the various problems that need to be addressed.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has given advice on the use methylphenidate (more commonly known as Ritalin) in the treatment of ADHD. NICE recommended that methylphenidate should only be used as part of a comprehensive treatment programme for children with a diagnosis of severe ADHD.
Dr. Ladyman: Details of the number of children with autism are not available. The Department commissioned the Medical Research Council (MRC) to undertake a comprehensive review of autism research. This was published in December 2001 and provides an authoritative overview of the current state of knowledge on the prevalence, incidence and causes of autism. It is available on the MRC's website at http://www.mrc.ac.uk/pdf-autism-report.pdf.
The report says that according to recent reviews, "there appears fairly good agreement that autism spectrum disorders affect approximately 60, and more narrowly defined autism 1030, per 10,000 children under eight".
Ms Rosie Winterton: As for any new medicinal product, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency will only grant a marketing authorisation for a cannabis spray to treat pain when supporting data have been submitted that demonstrate that the quality, safety and efficacy of the product are satisfactory for the intended use.
Dr. Ladyman: The principal role of the Health Protection Agency in regard to care homes is to provide advice about preventing the spread of infection, for example in the containment of an outbreak of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research the Government have carried out into (a) the prevalence of MRSA in care homes and (b) the effectiveness of infection control practices used in care homes. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Department has not commissioned research on the prevalence of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in care homes. However, the public health medicine and environment group is currently revising and updating the guidance set out in "Guidelines on the Control of Infection in Residential and Nursing Homes".
Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment has been made of the effect on the availability of potential staff for care homes of the length of the vetting and clearance process. 
We listened to service providers about their problems in recruiting staff and the effect the regulation on Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) Disclosures were having on their ability to provide services to vulnerable adults. Easements to the CRB regulations in July 2004 allow care home workers to start work before a completed CRB disclosure has been
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received, provided all other pre-employment checks have been carried out and a satisfactory Protection of Vulnerable Adults (PoVA) first check has been received.
"PoVAFirst" is an optional service provided by the CRB. It allows those organisations who are eligible to access the PoVA list, and who have requested checks of the list on their CRB disclosure application form, to receive results of the PoVA check in advance of the full disclosure being issued. It helps those providers of care to keep their staffing levels up to the necessary statutory requirements.
Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will abbreviate the clearance process for care home staff when they move employment from a care home for which they have been cleared to another similar home. 
Dr. Ladyman: All care workers of registered providers of care homes, domiciliary care agencies and adult placement schemes must have a Protection of Vulnerable Adults (PoVA) check before they start work. The legislation as it stands only permits a PoVA checks to be carried out as part of a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure.
However, in response to provider concerns, in July 2004 we introduced easements to the regulations which allow staff to start work provided all other pre-employment checks had been satisfactorily completed and a the applicant had been checked against the PoVA list.
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