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Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) discussions she has had with and (b) representations she has received from (i) the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and (ii) other relevant public bodies on her plans for the future regulation of herbal practitioners. 
Caroline Flint: The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an executive agency of the Department. Ministers have had ongoing discussions with them, as with any other part of the Department.
We have received advice from the independent Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee recommending that statutory regulation of the herbal medicine profession be progressed in order to permit effective reform of the arrangements under s12(l) of the Medicines Act 1968 whereby practitioners prepare unlicensed herbal remedies for use in meeting the needs of individual patients.
We have established a working group chaired by Professor Mike Pittilo to look at the practicalities of regulation of acupuncturists, herbal medicine practitioners and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. We are awaiting the working group's report and in the light of that we will consider next steps for the way forward.
In consultation with the Department and other experts in the field, the National Treatment Agency for substance misuse (NTA) published Injectable heroin (and injectable methadone),
Potential roles in drug treatment (May 2003), which provides guidance for drug treatment practitioners on injectable heroin in local drug treatment systems.
Substitute prescribing using methadone and buprenorphine is recognised as the recommended treatment for the majority of individuals requiring opiate substitution treatment. For a small number of heroin users who do not respond to other types of substitute prescribing, it is appropriate, when clinically assessed to be the case, to prescribe heroin. Doctors who prescribe heroin to drug misusers require a Home Office licence.
Caroline Flint: Provision of complementary and alternative therapies on the national health service are a matter for primary care trusts and local NHS service providers. The Government considers that decision making on individual clinical interventions, whether these are conventional, complementary or alternative, are for local determination. The cost-effectiveness, efficacy, safety and availability of suitably qualified practitioners are all factors that have to be considered when these decisions are being made.
Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent guidance she has issued to primary care trusts on provision of the option of access to homeopathy care and treatment in the NHS; and what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the use of homeopathic treatment to control rheumatoid arthritis. 
The Government consider that decision-making on individual clinical interventions, whether conventional or complementary/alternative
treatments, have to be a matter for local national health service providers and practitioners as they are best placed to know their community's needs. In making such decisions, they have to take into account evidence for the safety, clinical and cost-effectiveness of any treatments, the availability of suitably qualified practitioners, and the needs of the individual patient. Clinical responsibility rests with the NHS professional who makes the decision to refer and who must therefore be able to justify any treatment they recommend. If they are unconvinced about the suitability of a particular treatment, they cannot be made to refer.
To support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the NHS, research is commissioned through a number of national programmes that are open to everyone and priorities are set through widespread consultation.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many respite beds are available in each London borough; and what the (a) average and (b) maximum waiting period is for respite beds in each London borough. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were admitted to NHS hospitals for (a) drug-related and (b) alcohol-related illnesses and injuries in each strategic health authority area in each year between 2002 and 2006. 
Caroline Flint: It is not possible to identify the exact number of patients admitted to national health service hospitals for alcohol and drug related illnesses. Illnesses can be caused by or can be affected by drug and/or alcohol misuse but we are not able to indicate this with all cases. Drug and alcohol misuse related illnesses are not defined within one specific hospital diagnosis code.
|Count of finished admission episodes where the primary diagnosis was alcohol related*, by strategic health authority of treatment, 2001-02 to 2005-06 NHS Hospitals, England|
|Finished admission episodes|
|SHA Code||SHA Description||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06|
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