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26 Jan 2005 : Column 409W—continued

Teenage Pregnancies

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many teenage pregnancies there were in (a) Romford, (b) the London borough of Havering, (c) Greater London, (d) Essex and (e) England in (i)over 16s and (ii) under 16s in the most recent period for which figures are available. [210529]

Mr. Timms: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Andrew Rosindell, dated 26 January 2005:

Number of teenage conceptions to women aged under 16and 16–17, 2002

Under 1616–17
London borough of Havering18132
Greater London1,2295,283


Adverse Drug Reactions

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Committee on Safety of Medicines takes when it receives reports of adverse drug reactions to insulin glargine; [210114]

(2) how many cases of suspected adverse drug reactions for human insulin there were in 2003; what the symptoms of such adverse reactions were; and what research he has (a) evaluated and (b) commissioned on the effects of the use of GM produced insulin analogues. [210116]

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Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 24 January 2005]: As with all medicines, the safety of human insulins is monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with independent expert advice from the committee on safety of medicines (CSM). All information on the safety of these products is evaluated as it becomes available.

Insulin glargine (Lantus) is a long acting insulin licensed throughout the European Union. As with all new medicines, it is currently under intensive monitoring by the MHRA and the CSM. Prescribers are asked to report through the yellow card scheme all suspected adverse reactions for products under intensive monitoring, which are identified by an inverted black triangle symbol in the British National Formulary. When reports are received they are added to the database of adverse drug reactions. All reports of serious adverse drug reactions are evaluated by a member of the professional staff of the MHRA with particular responsibility for that product. These reports are then discussed in the context of all reports for the product at a weekly meeting of professional medical and scientific staff of the MHRA to identify any new safety issues.

A total of 142 reports of suspected adverse reactions were reporting through the Yellow Card Scheme in association with all human insulins in 2003. The most common adverse drug reactions reported related to decreases or increases in blood sugar, headache, injection site reaction and pruritis (itching).

In 2000, the CSM's sub-committee on Pharmacovigilance (SCOP) considered a systematic review of the literature on the safety of human insulins (Airey et al Diabetic Medicine 2000). A total of 52 randomised controlled trials were identified, in addition to 56 studies of other designs and case reports. The SCOP advised that although some patients have experienced problems on transferring to human insulin and are better suited to animal derived insulins, there is no clear evidence of safety problem specific to human insulin. This advice was communicated to prescribers in an article in the drug safety bulletin, Current Problems in Pharmacovigilance" in September 2000. In 2002, SCOP considered a review of human insulin versus animal insulin in people with diabetes mellitus published by the Cochrane Library. This review included randomised controlled trials of at least one month in duration until May 2002. No significant differences in metabolic control or hypoglycaemic episodes between various insulin species could be elucidated. The patient information leaflets for insulins provide detailed information about the risk of hypoglycaemia and the advice on action to take should it occur.

Burns Units (West Midlands)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many specialist burns services units there are in the West Midlands region. [210125]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 25 January 2005]: There are two specialist burns units within the West Midlands region. University Hospital Birmingham National Health Service Foundation Trust has a unit
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which deals with adult burns and Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Trust has a unit which deals with paediatric burns.

Individuals from the Warwickshire area also have access to the burns unit at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Care Homes (Pension Credit)

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to award care home residents the amount of pension credit they would receive if they were still living in their own homes; and if he will make a statement. [207734]

Dr. Ladyman [holding answer 13 January 2005]: We have no plans to change the residential charging arrangements relating to the savings element of pension credit. Those people in residential care receiving £4.65 or less savings credit have all of their award disregarded when the local authority assesses what they can afford to pay for their care. In addition, care home residents with weekly incomes so great that they do not qualify for savings credit also receive a savings disregard of £4.65. Only where a resident has an award above £4.65 is the amount above £4.65 taken into account in their assessment.

This solution ensures that the receipt of savings credit by care home residents does not create an anomaly in the system of care home charges. If residents in receipt of savings credit retained it all, they would be better off than residents with higher incomes not in receipt of savings credit.

Continuing Care

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he plans to produce a national framework for assessment for fully-funded NHS continuing care. [210824]

Dr. Ladyman: As was announced on 9 December 2004, I commissioned work to be started on a national framework for continuing care to improve consistency of assessments and approach and ease of understanding of continuing care and the assessment process for patients, their families and practitioners alike. Officials are in the process of working with the national health service, local authorities, voluntary and patient/user groups and the Health Service Ombudsman's office to plan the content and timescale of this piece of work.

Digital Hearing Aids

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how his Department calculates the NHS reference costs for the (a) provision and (b) fitting of digital hearing aids. [210238]

Dr. Ladyman: The Department collects unit cost and activity data from all national health service providers in England each financial year.

Various appropriate activity currencies are used for a range of services and treatments provided by the NHS, which form part of the scope of the reference cost collection. Unit cost data is produced in accordance with the rules detailed in the NHS costing manual, to ensure that both cost and activity data are calculated on a consistent and comparable basis.
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The data are collated and national average unit cost figures are produced by calculating, for each service/treatment area, the total national cost for the service, and then dividing this by the total reported activity for that service, at national level.

All national average costs are published in the national schedule of reference costs, at service level, in conjunction with national activity levels, and inter-quartile ranges, detailing the ranges between which the middle 50 per cent., of NHS provider costs lie.

Data on the provision and fitting of hearing aids are available for the 2002–03 financial year, when the average unit cost reported by NHS trusts undertaking the service in house was 144 per aid, but no comparable data will be available for the financial year 2003–04, following changes to the accounting treatment of digital hearing aids.

Copies of the national schedule of reference costs and the NHS costing manual are available in the Library.

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