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6 Jun 2005 : Column 422W—continued

Departmental Staffing

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many staff were employed in her Department (a) in 2004 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available to undertake policy work as part of the Valuing People" programme; what plans she has for future staffing levels; and if she will make a statement. [1197]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 26 May 2005]: In May 2004, 11 staff worked on learning disability policy.

The Department has reorganised the way it works in all policy areas and reduced in size in consequence. Policy on learning disability is clearly expressed and set out in the Valuing People" White Paper. As new policies need to be developed, extra resources will be brought in as necessary from a pool of staff that currently numbers 40. In both years, 14 staff in the Valuing People" support team have been responsible for supporting implementation of the policy. Currently four staff devote a proportion of their time to learning disability issues.

The Department of Health and other Government Departments are undertaking a number of projects on wider areas of work. These include the adult services Green Paper, Independence Well-Being and Choice", the Prime Minister's strategy unit report, Improving Life Chances for Disabled People", the Mental Capacity Act implementation and the Supporting People" programme. These all benefit people with learning disabilities, although they are not exclusively for this client group.

Diagnostic and Treatment Centres (Private)

Frank Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the clinical innovations available in privately run diagnostic and treatment centres which are not to be found in any NHS hospital or diagnostic and treatment centre. [478]

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Mr. Byrne [holding answer 23 May 2005]: Two early examples are the first ever mobile cataract units, which can travel the country serving areas with greatest demand; and the first national mobile scanning unit, which can serve all regions of England with need for magnetic resonance imaging scans.

Domiciliary Care (West Chelmsford)

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in West Chelmsford constituency who were receiving domiciliary care in 1997–98; and how many were receiving domiciliary care in West Chelmsford constituency on the latest date for which figures are available. [2288]

Ms Rosie Winterton: At 31 March 2004, about 36,600 adults in Essex were helped to live independently at home through the provision of a variety of community-based social services. Community based services include day care, meals, respite care, direct payments, professional support, transport and equipment as well as home care. Corresponding data for 1997–98 are not available.

The estimated number of households receiving home care in Essex in September 1997 and September 2004 was 13,000 and 12,200 respectively. The number of people in these households is not known for 1997. In September 2004, the estimated number of adults receiving home care was 12,300.

Local government re-organisation took place on 1 April 1998, forming the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock and the reduced area of Essex. Hence, data for 1997 and 2004 are based on the boundary of the former County of Essex.

Data for West Chelmsford constituency are not centrally available.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research her Department has commissioned into developing a therapy for Duchennemuscular dystrophy; and if she will make a statement; [1544]

(2) how much funding her Department has committed for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2005–06; [1545]

(3) what assessment her Department has made of the clinical trials being carried out in the development of a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy; and if she will make a statement. [1546]

Jane Kennedy: In 2004, the Department announced £1.6 million funding, from the Genetics White Paper, for a four year project which aims to address the cause of muscular dystrophy.

The main part of the Department's expenditure on health research is allocated to and managed by national health service organisations. Details of individual projects supported in the NHS, including a number concerned with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, can be found on the national research register at
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It would not be appropriate for the Government to make assessments of ongoing clinical trials.

End-of life Care

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to provide further services for end-of-life care. [1474]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We are committed to the importance of patients being able to choose where they would prefer to live and die.

We are providing an additional £12 million over next three years for the end of life care initiative. It will support staff working in general practices, care homes and on hospital wards so that all adult patients nearing the end of life, regardless of their diagnosis, will have access to high quality palliative care and be so able to choose where they are cared for.

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the proportion of national health service expenditure that was spent on people in the final (a) month, (b) three months and (c) six months of their lives in the last period for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. [1165]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department does not hold information about the proportion of national health service expenditure spent on people in the final phase of their lives. It is for individual primary care trusts to decide the level of funding they allocate to palliative care services. The Government recognises that, although most people would prefer to remain at home, only about 20 per cent. of all patients achieve a home death.

We are supporting strategies that enable more patients to exercise choice in where they are cared for and die and are funding specific initiatives in this area. These initiatives will enable more people to die in the place of their choice. These include an additional £50 million per annum for specialist palliative care, £12 million for end of life care and £6 million for integrated cancer care pilots.


Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many yellow card reports have been recorded in relation to the drug Flixotide in the treatment of asthma in each of the last five years; [1817]

(2) how many deaths have been recorded as caused by high doses of the drug Flixotide to treat asthma in each of the past five years; [1818]

(3) how many prescriptions for Flixotide have been provided in each of the last five years to (a) children and (b) adults for the treatment of asthma; [1819]

(4) what assessment she has made of the safety of Flixotide in the treatment of asthma; and if she will make a statement. [1820]

Jane Kennedy: The table shows the number of prescriptions of Flixotide dispensed in the community in England in the last five years. The information has been taken from the prescripton cost analysis (PCA) system.

Number of items of Flixotide that have
been dispensed
(a) children(b) adults

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There have been 529 yellow card reports of suspected adverse drug reactions associated with the drug Flixotide submitted since 1993. There has been one report of a suspected adverse drug reaction associated with high dose Flixotide, for which the outcome was fatal, in the last five years. The death occurred in 2001 and was reported to the yellow card scheme in April 2002.

As with all medicines, the safety of the inhaled steroid medicine Flixotide (fluticasone) has been continuously monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with expert advice from the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) throughout its use in clinical practice. Concerns
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regarding possible side effects from high doses of fluticasone, and other inhaled steroids, led the then Medicines Control Agency to conduct an exhaustive review of the evidence for this in 1997. The CSM issued advice in a bulletin to healthcare professionals in 1998 about possible adverse effects of both inhaled and nasal steroids, especially when used in high doses and for prolonged periods. In addition, further advice specifically relating to adult doses of Flixotide was issued in 2001.

The CSM conducted a further wide-ranging review of the issue of adrenal suppression caused by high dose inhaled steroids, such as fluticasone, in 2002, resulting in further strengthened warnings to prescribers and a reminder of the licensed doses of these products. The safety of Flixotide remains under continual review.

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