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9 Jan 2006 : Column 133W—continued

Infant Readmissions (Norfolk)

Mr. Bacon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many babies from the Southern Norfolk primary care trust area were re-admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital with feeding problems in each month since January 2001. [38274]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information requested is not held centrally by the Department.

Influenza

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the use of common blood-pressure drugs in tackling outbreaks of influenza. [15379]

Caroline Flint: The treatment of raised blood pressure is not related to the treatment for influenza. There is no logical basis for investigating the effect of blood pressure treatments on influenza.

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the population of (a) Staffordshire and (b) the West Midlands can be inoculated against influenza and other viral infections with retro-virus from existing stocks should there be a health emergency; and if she will make a statement. [20879]

Caroline Flint: There is currently sufficient annual influenza vaccine to protect all at risk groups throughout the United Kingdom. In the event of the emergence of a novel influenza or other viral strain representing a significant health risk to humans, any decisions on immunisation would depend on subsequent vaccine development and availability.

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether her Department's modelling for the number of extra patients in each primary care trust during an influenza pandemic includes an estimate of the number of people presenting in primary care who fear they may have the virus but do not. [22117]

Ms. Rosie Winterton: Modelling undertaken by the Department and published in the UK influenza pandemic contingency plan looked at the demand for healthcare contacts assuming similar numbers to those with clinical symptoms will require some contact with the health care system. However, the plan also acknowledges the uncertainty surrounding these
 
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figures, as we cannot know for definite how many people will fall ill with influenza in a pandemic, as it will depend on the nature of the virus.

We have published operational guidance and a framework for antiviral distribution to help national health service organisations develop plans appropriate for their area. We are working to ensure that the patients who become ill with pandemic flu are given the treatment they need. We are developing plans to deliver this treatment with minimum disruption to normal primary care. We know that primary care will be under pressure from patients who are concerned that they or their families may become infected with pandemic influenza.

The Department's communications plan has been published as annex 1 of the UK influenza pandemic contingency plan, which is available on the Department's website at www.dh.gov.uk/pandemicflu. The primary aim of the communications plan is to convey accurate, timely and consistent advice to the public and health professionals, and to aid understanding of the pandemic amongst the general population.

If pandemic flu reaches the United Kingdom, there will be an announcement in the newspapers and on the radio and television. Advice will be given on the best course of action to take in order to minimise unnecessary healthcare contacts.

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the risk of excess deaths from seasonal influenza if, in the event of an influenza pandemic, manufacturers switch from seasonal influenza vaccine production to the production of a pandemic vaccine. [22120]

Caroline Flint: Any switch from the production of seasonal flu vaccine to the production of pandemic flu vaccine will be carefully assessed to ensure that this will provide the public with the best protection from flu. It is not possible to make an assessment of any impact this may have on excess deaths resulting from seasonal flu as we do not know at what time of the year pandemic flu will start to circulate and whether seasonal flu will be circulating at the same time.

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to ensure that the supply of influenza vaccinations in England will be adequate to meet demand during the winter. [33708]


 
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Caroline Flint: The Department wrote to general practitioners (GPs) on 23 November to find out what their needs were, to check that enough stocks were left to meet the needs of any remaining flu clinics, and to identify whether any surgeries are holding surplus stocks of vaccine. Primary care trust flu immunisation co-ordinators have already been requested to work with surgeries to redistribute any surplus stocks, where possible. The Department has also ordered an additional 800,000 doses of vaccine for distribution to any GPs that run out. These additional stocks will arrive in January 2006.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons manufacture of the winter influenza vaccine has been delayed. [18373]

Caroline Flint: Some suppliers delayed delivery of their flu vaccine due to problems with part of the manufacturing process.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on advertising the winter influenza vaccine in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [29809]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is shown in the table.
Spend on publishing and advertising the winter flu programme, 2000–01 to 2004–05

£ million
2000–014.31
2001–021.45
2002–032.4
2003–041.95
2004–051.91

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she has been informed that any primary care trust has a shortage of influenza vaccines. [29810]

Caroline Flint: We wrote to all primary care trust flu co-ordinators on 3 November with details of how to order vaccine from centrally held Department of Health contingency stock should they need to.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the merits of including people with mental health problems within the priority groups for influenza vaccination; [33232]

(2) for what reasons mental health patients are not included in the at-risk categories of those eligible to receive vaccinations for influenza. [32905]

Caroline Flint: The groups recommended to receive influenza vaccination are based on clinical risk. Individuals with mental health problems can have both physical or mental disabilities. Not all people with mental health problems will therefore be at an increased risk from influenza infection and those that are will likely fall within one of the existing clinical groups.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what month her Department recommends that general practitioner practices place their order for winter influenza vaccine for seasonal influenza; and when her Department informed general practitioners that the seasonal influenza vaccination programme would be extended to cover (a) people with chronic liver
 
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disease and (b) people who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare would be at risk if the carer falls ill. [33265]

Caroline Flint: The Department does not recommend a specific date for general practitioners (GPs) to place their orders for seasonal flu vaccine. GPs contract individually with manufacturers to supply vaccine and they decide when to order their supplies.

The chief medical officer wrote to GPs on 25 July 2005 to inform them that the seasonal flu vaccination programme would be extended to cover people with chronic liver disease and people who are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare would be at risk if the carer falls ill.

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what circumstances she would seek to impose restrictions on movement of people in order to reduce the risk of spread of pandemic influenza from human to human. [37988]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Travel restrictions are one of theoptions that may be considered to try to reduce the spread of pandemic influenza, particularly during the initial stages. Any decision will be based on evidence of the possible impact and will be informed by emerging information about the nature of the virus and the at-risk groups.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of people in (a) West Lancashire constituency, (b) Lancashire and (c) England who have requested an influenza vaccination this winter but have not yet received one. [38543]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhat proportion of the at-risk population of (a) the West Lancashire primary care trust area, (b) Lancashire and (c) England is expected to be inoculated against existing strains of influenza by 31 December. [38672]

Caroline Flint: Information on seasonal flu uptake by primary care trust will not be available until February 2006.

Based on provisional data from England, it is likely that seasonal flu uptake will increase in those aged 65 years and over, and in other risk groups when compared. The Department will have further information on this in the next year.

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of people in at-risk groups who have been unable to obtain a seasonal influenza vaccination in each London borough; and if she will make a statement. [39195]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not collected centrally.


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