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Mr. Bruce George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the length of time that patients with severe skin diseases will wait to access new biological and immuno-suppressant therapies; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) if he will take steps to ensure that patients with chronic skin diseases have access to the widest possible range of treatments, including new biological and immuno-suppressant therapies. 
Dr. Ladyman: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has been commissioned to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of Efalizumab and Etanercept in the treatment of psoriasis and are expected to provide guidance to the national health service by October 2005.
Once advice from NICE is available, we expect the NHS to fund recommended drugs where these are clinically appropriate. The NHS has three months from the date of publication of each technology appraisal guidance to provide funding for treatments.
The delivery of health services, including the funding of treatments recommended by NICE, rests with primary care trusts (PCTs). It is for PCTs to decide what services to provide for their populations, including the treatment of chronic skin conditions, as they are best placed to understand local health needs and commission services to meet them accordingly.
Miss Melanie Johnson: Prior to 27 September 2004, ethylmercury was present in the combined diphtheria, tetanus and whole-cell pertussis vaccine (DTwP) in the form of the preservative thiomersal. With the introduction of a new combined diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, inactivated polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP/IPV/Hib) vaccine on this date, the routine childhood immunisation programme no longer includes a thiomersal-containing vaccine.
This change was made because the low risk of importation of polio in the United Kingdom provided the opportunity to move from the use of a live polio vaccine to an inactivated polio vaccine as well as the availability of an acellular pertussis vaccine which was as effective as the previous whole-cell pertussis. Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine does not contain (and never has contained) thiomersal.
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There is no credible scientific evidence that demonstrates a mechanism through which thiomersal in DTP could interact with MMR. The issue of whether ethylmercury-containing vaccines could affect a constituent of another vaccine has been considered by the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) as part of their review of multiple immunizations and immune dysfunction (Immunization Safety Review: 'Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction', 2002). Several large studies have found no evidence of a link between either MMR vaccine or thiomersal-containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) drug and alcohol rehabilitation units and (b) drug rehabilitation beds there were in (i) England, (ii) North Somerset local authority and (iii) the constituency of Weston-super-Mare in each year since 1997. 
Full details can be found on the National Treatment Agency's (NTA) residential services directory at www.nta.uk/residential/index. The NTA have published this information from summer 2003 and it is not available before this date.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many individuals received treatment at drug rehabilitation centres in (a) North Somerset and (b) the constituency of Weston-super-Mare in each year since 1997; and what proportion of those receiving treatment discharged themselves from treatment services after less than 12 weeks. 
Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Government will take steps to require all drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres (a) to be registered with (i) local authorities and (ii) other bodies and (b) to be subject to an inspection regime. 
Miss Melanie Johnson
[holding answer 24 January 2005]: From the commencement of the Care Standards Act 2000 in April 2002, the registration and inspection of drug and alcohol rehabilitation units as care homes became the responsibility of the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC). In April 2003, the
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NCSC became part of the new Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), and NCSCs role of registration and inspection is now part of the work of CSCI.
Ms Rosie Winterton: Eastbourne District General Hospital is part of East Sussex Hospitals National Health Service Trust. The Trust is currently achieving both elective admission and first out-patient appointment waiting time targets.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhether it is his Department's assessment that the requirement of article 13(3) of the proposed EU Constitution for the protection of the rights of the child applies to unborn children. 
Mr. Hutton: The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is a political declaration and currently not legally binding. It has been incorporated within the EU Constitution signed recently, and once that is ratified and in force, the Charter will be binding on the EU institutions, and on member states in so far as they are implementing EU law. However, the regulation of medical ethical issues, such as the rights of the unborn child, is not regulated under EU law, and as such, the Charter would not apply.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of (a) the effect upon consumers and (b) the impact on his Department's work towards its policy objectives of the removal from the market after July of those food supplements which are regarded as safe by United Kingdom regulatory authorities but which do not meet the technical requirements of the Food Supplements Directive and the Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003. 
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