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Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to raise awareness of foetal alcohol syndrome. [105632]

Caroline Flint: Raising awareness of foetal alcohol syndrome is part of the multi million pound “Know Your Limits” alcohol campaign which was launched in October 2006. We have produced a leaflet, “How much is too much when you’re having a baby?”, which is being widely distributed across the NHS, and to other frontline agencies on request. It is also available for downloading via the campaign website at www.knowyourlimits.gov.uk. We have engaged a public relations agency to take forward a media campaign to increase awareness of issues pertaining to pregnancy and alcohol.

The Government’s vision for maternity services is set out in the maternity standard of the national service framework for children, young people and maternity services. The standard highlights the need for local health promotion arrangements to include the provision of information for parents on the importance of minimising intake of alcohol. It also asks all national health service maternity care providers to ensure that all women who have a significant alcohol use problem receive their care from a multi-agency team, which will include a specialist midwife and/or obstetrician in this area.

Food Supplements Directive

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress has been made by (a) the Food Standards Agency and (b) the Better Regulation Executive in assessing the economic impact of the setting of maximum permitted levels of nutrients under the terms of the Food Supplements Directive; [115760]

(2) how many letters from individual consumers have recently been received by officials of the Food Standards Agency expressing concerns about the setting of maximum permitted levels of nutrients in food supplements; [115761]

(3) what progress has been made by the Food Standards Agency in producing an authoritative dossier of legal advice to support its promotion to the European Commission of a system of Advisory Statements under the terms of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive; [115829]

(4) what the policy background was to the adoption by the Food Standards Agency of its system of advisory statements in connection with the setting of maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements; when that approach was adopted; what the rationale was behind the approach; what consumer and manufacturer organisations supported its introduction; what steps she is taking to promote acceptance of such an approach within the European context; and if she will make a statement; [115830]

(5) what recent response she has received from the European Commission to the United Kingdom's objectives for the setting of maximum permitted levels for nutrients in supplements under the provisions of the Food Supplements Directive; and when she expects
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this issue next to be discussed by member state representatives at Working Group meetings. [115834]

Caroline Flint: Food Standard Agency (FSA) officials have met with the Better Regulation Executive and Small Business Service to discuss options for assessing the economic impact of the setting of maximum permitted levels of nutrients under the terms of the Food Supplements Directive. A series of questions are being prepared in order to obtain relevant information from industry to complete the assessment.

No letters from individual consumers to FSA officials have been received expressing concerns about the setting of maximum permitted levels of nutrients in food supplements. However over 300 letters have been received from small companies and employees from a health food company.

FSA officials are seeking legal advice on the use of a system of advisory statements under the terms of the Food Supplements Directive.

The FSA developed the policy for a system of advisory statements following the publication of the results of risk assessment of vitamins and minerals by the expert group on vitamins and Minerals (EVM) in 2003. The majority of food supplement products on the United Kingdom market in 2003 contained amounts of vitamins and minerals that were well below the safe upper levels set by the EVM. However, a small number of products contained levels of vitamins and minerals which were higher than the safe upper level set by the EVM, in single dose form, which could cause adverse effects in some individuals if taken on a regular basis. In consultation with industry representatives from the Council for Responsible Nutrition, Health Food Manufacturer’s Association and the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, a number of advisory statements were agreed in May 2004 to be included on labels, which provide information on the potential adverse effects for these products.

The use of advisory statements approach has been discussed in bilateral meetings between FSA officials, the European Commission and other member states. Further bilateral meetings are planned.

FSA officials met with the European Commission on 8 November 2006 to discuss the UK Government’s response to the Commission’s discussion document on setting levels of vitamins and minerals in foodstuffs.

The Commission welcomed the UK response and indicated that the work by the EVM on setting safe upper levels for on a scientific basis would be a key factor in developing proposals. A timeline for developing proposals has not yet been agreed by the Commission. Working group discussions between member states may begin in late spring with proposals not expected to be brought forward before the end of 2007.

Gender Equality

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how she will ensure that the gender equality duty is built into the work of the (a) Healthcare Commission, (b) Mental Health Act Commission, (c) Commission for Social Care Inspectorate and (d) other health commissions. [114857]


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Ms Rosie Winterton: The Healthcare Commission, Mental Health Act Commission (a special health authority) and the Commission for Social Care Inspections are listed under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Public Authorities) (Statutory Duties) Order 2006 as subject to the specific duties. This means they have to develop and publish a gender equality scheme by 6 April 2007 which sets out how they intend to fulfil the general and specific duties and setting out their gender equality objectives.

The gender equality duty reinforces the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 by placing a legal obligation on public authorities to promote equality of opportunity between men and women, and demonstrating that men and women are treated equally and fairly in the exercise of public functions.

The Department is working closely with inspectorate bodies and equality commissions to ensure that equality issues including gender equality are integrated into inspection arrangements and relevant sector specific guidance provided to help the health sector promote equality issues. Inspectorate bodies will monitor national health service organisations’ commitment to promoting gender equality through annual performance assessment frameworks.

The Department worked with the gender duty steering group led by the women and equality unit of the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure that all gender issues relevant to the health sector were correctly represented in the gender equality duty code of practice for example employment issues through to organisational governance, delivery and outcomes.

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what her Department’s priorities are for the implementation of the gender equality duty across the health sector; [114858]

(2) how her Department plans to assist the national health service in preparing for coming into force of the gender equality duty. [114859]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has undertaken a number of activities to promote equality issues in the national health service, including the forthcoming gender equality duty, and particularly to support the NHS meet its responsibilities under the gender duty. The Department’s strategy for promoting gender equality in the NHS is to set action on gender issues within the overall framework for planning and delivering the Department’s and NHS’ priorities.

The Department has worked closely with NHS organisations to prepare them for the gender duty when it comes into force in April this year. A detailed programme of work is in place to ensure the implementation of the gender duty across the whole health sector. The programme includes the measures set out as follows.

The Department is currently developing a gender equality duty guide to assist the NHS meet the duties of the gender duty legislation and will be published at the end of January 2007.

This guide will be available to all NHS organisations and will be accessible on the Department’s website.


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We are working with inspectorate bodies and the Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure that gender equality issues are integrated into inspection arrangements and sector specific guidance provided to help the health sector promote gender equality.

We are working in partnership with key stakeholders such as the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Women and Equality Unit of the Department for Communities and Local Government, NHS Employers and the Men’s Health Forum (MHF) to take forward work on the gender equality duty. A conference was organised for the NHS in November 2006 aimed at creating and enhancing awareness of the meaning of gender and its relevance to health, increasing understanding of the general and specific duties of the gender duty, providing information and guidance on the implementation of the specific duties

The Department’s equality and human rights group is leading a project aimed at supporting the equalities agenda through the development of single equality schemes in the NHS. The project has been set up in anticipation of possible further duties in relation to age, religion and belief and sexual orientation and plans to encourage work to pull together the different equality strands without compromising any of the individual elements in a cross cutting and coherent fashion. Project leads provide support in terms of expertise in the field of equalities legislation, facilitating partnerships and joined up working, research, sharing of good practice and producing guidance. Project leads also provide specific guidance on the gender and disability duties. The organisations involved are committed to producing a single equality scheme and will collectively produce learning that identifies the different steps required to meet both current and likely duties which will be meaningful to the host of diverse organisations within the NHS. Development and outcomes from all the programmes outlined above will be shared and disseminated throughout the NHS.

We have published “Promoting Equality and Human Rights in the NHS—a Guide for Board Members” aimed at helping non-executive board members take forward the issues of equality and human rights with regard to patients and the work force. The guide outlines the legislative framework and the principles that underpin equality and human rights. It demonstrates the business case for promoting and delivering equality and human rights, and includes a set of prompts for boards to take stock of how fairly their organisations treat their patients and work force. The guide incorporates current and imminent legislation and includes all board members.

The pacesetters programme is headed by the equality and human rights group. This programme places equality including gender equality at the heart of NHS business, organisational objectives and core values, impacting upon future health planning, performance management and delivery. The group is working with up to five strategic health authorities to deliver equality and diversity improvements and innovations resulting in:


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The participating SHAs launched their local involvement in the programme in November 2006.

Hepatitis A Vaccinations

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hepatitis A vaccinations were administered in sexual health clinics in (a) Hertfordshire and (b) England in each of the last five years. [115811]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is not available centrally.

Hepatitis C Website

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many visitors the hepatitis C information website, www.hepc.nhs.uk had in each month during 2006. [116130]

Caroline Flint: The information requested is shown in the following table.

Number of visitors to the NHS hepatitis C awareness website, www.hepc.nhs.uk, in 2006

January

8,072

February

6,843

March

7,557

April

6,369

May

7,710

June

6,511

July

5,600

August

5,335

September

6,650

October

6,461

November

6,558

December

7,319

Total

80,985

Notes:
A visitor is considered to be an internet user with a unique internet protocol (IP) address. If the visitor returns to the website within 30 minutes of their previous visit, it is still considered as the same user session or visit. If the visitor returns to the site after 30 minutes, then it is counted as a separate user session and a new visit.

Heroin

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people receiving treatment following the illegal use of heroin are required to pay for their prescriptions; and if she will make a statement. [114553]

Caroline Flint: We do not hold information on how many people receiving treatment as a result of heroin misuse pay for their prescriptions. Those being treated for drug misuse may qualify to receive free prescriptions on the same grounds as other patients.

Maternity Care

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when her Department’s delivery plan for maternity services will be (a) completed and (b) published; and what consultation on the plan has taken place with the relevant professional medical bodies; [114656]


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(2) how she expects the national delivery plan for maternity services to accommodate the different needs of rural and urban areas. [114852]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The delivery plan will focus on the key areas of:

The commitment to choice will apply to both rural and urban areas.

NHS: Barnet

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the present position is concerning the redevelopment of Northwick Park hospital. [114274]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: NHS London has advised the Department that the proposed redevelopment of Northwick Park and St. Mark’s hospitals is currently under review because of the trust’s own strategic review of services and the wider strategic review of services in North West London.

Proposals for the wider strategic review are at an early stage of development and formal consultation is expected to begin in the spring.

NHS Database

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints have been received from (a) the public and (b) medical professionals that entries on the NHS database are (i) inaccurate and (ii) false. [113396]

Caroline Flint: The information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost, as correspondence is not held centrally in such a way that would make it possible to identify such a request separately from other issues raised.

There is no existing electronic database which contains the personal health information of all national health service patients. Any request received by the Department complaining of an inaccuracy or error in existing records would be dealt by referring the correspondent to the relevant body concerned as corrective action would involve appropriate amendment by the treating clinician of the relevant locally held record.

In the future, each person using the NHS will have a personal electronic NHS care record within the NHS care records service, made up of detailed care records and a summary care record. The summary care record element is due to begin to be rolled out, initially at early adopter sites, in 2007.


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