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12 Oct 2005 : Column 544W—continued

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her strategy is for promoting the awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning. [16513]

Caroline Flint: The Chief Medical Officer will be issuing a reminder about carbon dioxide poisoning in his "CMO Update" this month, when people start heating their homes. This will be followed by the publication of an information leaflet for distribution via general practitioner surgeries.

The Department works in collaboration with other Government Departments on the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning. We work with the Health and Safety Executive on the issue of CORGI registered engineers, and with the Department of Trade and Industry on the issues around product standards.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which voluntary organisations who provide support and advice for people and their families who have been affected by carbon monoxide poisoning she has supported through section 64 grants in each of the last three years; and what amounts were granted in each case. [16516]

Caroline Flint: The two voluntary organisations providing support and advice for people and their families who have been affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, supported through section 64 funding are the Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society (CO-Gas Safety) and the Air Information Research Safety and You (AIRSAY).

CO-Gas Safety has been provided with core funding of £35,000 in 2004–05 and £16,000 in 2005–06. AIRSAY has been granted funding for its project, "New Approach to Fossil Fuel Poisoning", of £30,000 per annum for 2005–06 and the following two years.

Child Choking Incidents

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what mechanism the Department has set up to count the number of child choking incidents, to replace the Home Accident Surveillance System. [15926]

Caroline Flint: Data on in-patient admissions of children to national health service hospitals in England following a choking incident is collected in the hospital episode statistics (HES) system. This only covers choking incidents serious enough to warrant admission to hospital as an in-patient.

From the 2003–04 data year, a data set from NHS accident and emergency departments has been collected centrally and included in the HES system. The data are being analysed by the public health observatories on our behalf. There are currently problems with the quality of
 
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the data, and with the level of participation by individual trusts. The data set cannot currently identify choking incidents as a separate category. We are considering how the data set may be used in future for injury surveillance, including choking incidents.

Congenital Heart Conditions

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in the Portsmouth NHS Trust area are identified as having a grown-up congenital heart condition; and which is the nearest dedicated in-hospital unit available to them. [16508]

Caroline Flint: Information is not collected centrally on the number of people in the Portsmouth NHS Trust area who are identified as having a grown-up congenital heart condition (GUCH).

The Wessex regional cardiac centre at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, Southampton is the nearest dedicated in-hospital unit providing services for congenital heart disease, including GUCH.

Contagious Diseases

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on her policy towards international co-operation to tackle contagion; if she will list the powers she holds to ban entry from named countries where outbreaks of disease occur; and what her policy is on repatriation of UK nationals from such countries during an outbreak. [16705]

Caroline Flint: The United Kingdom Government works closely with international partners, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, to tackle infectious diseases. It has implemented WHO's International Health Regulations (IHR), which were agreed in 1969 and subsequently amended and which are designed to prevent the international spread of infectious disease. In common with other WHO members it is currently considering implementation of the new IHR adopted by WHO in May this year.

In addition, the UK Government have participated in exercises with international partners to test plans for the handling of outbreaks of infectious disease such as smallpox and plague. Exercises on the handling of smallpox and pandemic influenza will take place with European Union partners later this month and in November.

There are no powers in health legislation to ban entry to the UK. Once an infected or infectious person has reached a country, there could be risks to other travellers in merely banning his entry and taking no action to prevent his infecting others. Accordingly, the current IHR provide, among other things, for the medical examination of travellers (Article 36) and for infected travellers to be isolated (Article 38) or put under surveillance (Article 39). Those provisions are reflected in England (and Wales) in the Public Health (Aircraft) Regulations 1979 and the Public Health (Ships) Regulations 1979.

Repatriation of UK nationals is a matter for my right hon. Friend, the Foreign Secretary (Mr. Straw). If a serious outbreak were to occur, the Foreign and
 
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Commonwealth Office, in close consultation with the Department would issue travel advice offering guidance to UK nationals on travel to and from the affected country.

Family Support Services

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the cost of providing family support services from social services departments for adults who have previously been in care in the last year for which figures are available. [15708]

Mr. Byrne: No estimate has been made of the cost of providing family support services.

The Department provides the financial resources needed by local authorities to deliver their adults' personal social services commitments and most appropriately meet the needs of the local community.

The Department allocates funding for personal social services (PSS) based on relative need. Each local authority is allocated a small proportion of their required funding through specific direct grants from the Department. The larger proportion comes through the formula spending share (FSS) and the Office of Deputy Prime Minister allocates this to local authorities (LAs) relative to factors such as population and levels of deprivation.

While the Department is responsible for establishing overall social care policy, it is for LAs to manage the provision of services from social services departments for adults who have previously been in care, in accordance with locally determined priorities.

Grown-up Congenital Heart Patient Unit (Southampton)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) staffing levels and (b) budget are of the Grown-Up Congenital Heart Patient Unit in the Wessex Cardiothoracic Unit at the Southampton University Hospital NHS Trust; and what the forecast is for the next three years. [16507]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Hepatitis C

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessments her Department has made of the prevalence of undiagnosed hepatitis C in (a) the UK and (b) other European countries; and what assessment she has made of the capacity for treating hepatitis C. [15720]

Caroline Flint: It is estimated that there are 200,000 people with chronic hepatitis C infection in England. Since surveillance began in 1992, there have been around 46,500 laboratory diagnoses of hepatitis C reported to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which suggests that the majority of those infected have not been diagnosed. The number of reported laboratory diagnoses of hepatitis C has risen markedly from 4,665 in 2001 to 7,843 1 in 2004, which may reflect increased awareness.
 
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There are emerging indications from sentinel surveillance of hepatitis C laboratory diagnoses by the HPA that there may be a significant level of under-reporting of laboratory diagnoses and that the number of people who have been diagnosed is higher than suggested by the reports received.

We have not made a specific assessment of the prevalence of undiagnosed chronic hepatitis C infection in other European countries.

The provision of treatment for hepatitis C is a matter for local national health service organisations taking account of guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.


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