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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps are being taken to (a) strengthen and (b) codify links with international bodies in
consequence of Exercise Winter Willow; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what discussions he has had with the Irish Government in consequence of the Exercise Winter Willow programme in the preparations for a potential influenza pandemic; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: We have taken steps to codify and strengthen our links at international level by engaging with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) at official level via regular international conferences, meetings, and ongoing exchanges of information about pandemic planning.
The United Kingdom is also represented at official level at conferences organised by the European Union, the WHO and ECDC and has been at the forefront of pushing for greater international collaboration and engagement in planning for and responding to a possible influenza outbreak as a result of the lessons learned during Exercise Winter Willow.
Since Exercise Winter Willow took place, officials from the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety have met on two occasions with their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland to ensure consistent and robust pandemic influenza contingency planning.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in considering the development of a streamlined death certification process in the event of any future influenza pandemic as identified in Exercise Winter Willow; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Committee on Ethical Aspects of Pandemic Influenza considered this issue following Exercise Winter Willow. We have produced draft guidance on how death and cremation certification can be streamlined and should be handled in the event of an influenza pandemic.
Dawn Primarolo: The role of the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) on pandemic influenza both before and during a pandemic will be to advise the United Kingdom's Government on scientific matters relating to the health response to an influenza pandemic and help in keeping the Government informed of any new developments in science and research. It is envisaged that this will mainly happen via temporary sub-groups of the SAG working on specific questions. Members may also be called upon individually to act as advisers and to provide advice on matters arising on which a member's particular expertise may be of assistance.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the potential (a) use and (b) effectiveness of the internet as a mechanism for communicating with the public during any future influenza pandemic; what measures will be used to ensure effective communication with those who do not possess a connection to the internet; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) if he will place a copy of the communication strategy identifying the best channels of communication with the public during any future pandemic influenza outbreak in the Library; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) if he will provide an update on the development of protocols for effective sharing of national communications messages for (a) local and (b) regional use as a consequence of Exercise Winter Willow; and if he will make a statement; 
(6) for what reasons the role of the National News Co-ordination Centre in co-ordinating messages across Departments was not tested as part of Exercise Winter Willow; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: In spring 2007 the Department carried out targeted public engagement research to explore public understanding of specific elements of the Pandemic Influenza; draft National Framework for responding to an influenza pandemic. The findings from this research have been incorporated into the Pandemic Flu: A national framework for responding to an influenza pandemic published on 22 November. A more comprehensive public engagement programme, commencing in early 2008 will provide a detailed assessment of the publics understanding of the Governments assessment of pandemic risks and policies.
Conveying accurate, timely, consistent and credible advice and information to the public (including hard to reach groups), professions and business is a major strand of the Governments pandemic preparedness strategy.
The News Co-ordination Centre operated as part of the exercise control in the exercise and played an integral role in ensuring that communications was tested at all levels of the exercise and was represented at all of the meetings during the exercise.
The lessons from the winter willow exercisewhich have been published on the United Kingdom Resilience websiteand the spring 2007 public engagement programme have been used in the development of draft communications scripts should the World Health Organisation (WHO) declare a pandemic. These scripts
will be further researched and pre-tested as part of the comprehensive public engagement strategy.
The research findings from the public engagement programme will also be used to refine the Governments pandemic influenza communications preparedness strategy. This strategy will need to be adaptable to reflect specific situations and pandemic scenarios. The draft strategy will be available in spring 2008.
The communications strategy, currently being developed, will provide advice, information and campaign material to the widest possible audience, and will use a diverse and comprehensive range of communications channels including; digital, print and broadcasting advertising campaigns, a national door drop leaflet and a national flu information line.
One of the objectives of the planned public engagement programme is to ascertain what communications channels including digital media are required to effectively engage with the public prior to and during a pandemic.
The Department will inform the Cabinet Office, the Health Departments of Devolved Administrations and the Health Protection Agency should the WHO declare a pandemic or update threat assessments. The Cabinet Office will alert other Government Departments and work with the Department to develop, update and circulate top line briefings via the Government News Co-ordination Centre. The Department will also alert health and social care organisations and professions in England through strategic health authorities and via the chief medical officers established public health mechanism. Similar arrangements are in place within the devolved Administrations.
(3) what guidance has been provided to ambulance services as part of the UK framework for responding to an influenza pandemic; what mechanisms exist to deploy ambulances on the basis of urgent medical treatment; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: Information included in the draft national framework for responding to an influenza pandemic, issued in March 2007, was used to inform the planning for Exercise Winter Willow. The draft national framework outlined the United Kingdom's planning presumptions, including those areas where we would intend to maintain business as usual as far as practicable.
Guidance on preparing acute hospitals, guidance for primary care trusts and primary care professionals on the provision of health care in the community setting, and guidance for ambulance services and their staff was issued for public discussion in March this year. The
final guidance was published alongside the National framework for responding to an influenza pandemic on 22 November. They all contain contingency advice for planners. Draft guidance on preparing mental health services was also issued for public comment alongside the National framework.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in reviewing the reporting template for the collection of data as a consequence of Exercise Winter Willow; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: It is assumed that the reporting template for the collection of data referred to in the question is the United Kingdom pandemic influenza main health report from the Department to Cabinet Office, a situation report for MICS32/COBRA.
In follow-up to Exercise Winter Willow, a working group representing the main stakeholders has reviewed and adjusted the reporting template. The revised template is currently being assessed to ensure that it addresses the issues raised during Winter Willow.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the involvement of the voluntary sector in planning preparations for any future influenza pandemic; and if he will make a statement; 
Dawn Primarolo: The voluntary sector is a critical partner and has been engaged in planning preparations at both the national and local level. In May of this year, Department officials met with voluntary sector organisations to discuss key issues, including how best the voluntary sector can help to respond to a pandemic; key roles will include supporting those that would normally use their services, but also those who become more or temporarily vulnerable in the event of a pandemic. These discussions in turn contributed to the updating of the National framework for responding to an influenza pandemic and the supporting guidance documents. Localities are also engaging with the voluntary sector, and are encouragedthrough the national framework and supporting guidanceto involve voluntary organisations in planning preparations from an early stage.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what mechanisms exist to ensure effective dissemination of best practice in workforce guidance arrangements during any potential future influenza pandemic; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: NHS Employers is an organisation which has a key role in supporting the national health service on human resources issues and will ensure that examples of best practice are placed on the NHS Employers' website at:
The discussion document called Pandemic Influenza: Human Resources guidance for the NHS, advises the NHS to work with other local partners including the independent sector providers, local authorities and voluntary agencies. Wider comments and examples of further local best practice are being sought before the guidance is published.
NHS organisations are advised to regularly review contingency plans for future influenza pandemics. Each strategic health authority has a nominated pandemic flu lead to support planning. They meet on a regular basis to share their experience and to discuss common issues.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the terms of reference are of the National Pandemic Influenza Working Group; on which dates it has met; and what the costs of running the group have been to date. 
Ann Keen: No assessment has been made. The Government are aware of the need to consider health implications in the event of incandescent light bulbs being phased out and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is working to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that people have access to appropriate lighting.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library a copy of the speech made by Andrea Duncan, manager of his Departments Sexual Health and HIV Division at the Marie Stopes International Conference on 24 October 2007; which (a) organisations and (b) individuals were consulted prior to the speech; who wrote the speech; what input Ministers in his Department had; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: A copy of the speech made by Andrea Duncan, the Sexual Health Programme Manager at the Department of Health, at the Marie Stopes International Conference on 24 October 2007 has been placed in the Library. No organisations or individuals were consulted on the content of the speech. The speech was written by Andrea Duncan.
Dawn Primarolo: Over the last ten years, the main part of the Departments total expenditure on health research has been devolved to and managed by national health service organisations. Details of individual NHS supported research projects including a number concerned with meningitis are available on the national research register at www.nrr.nhs.uk.
The Health Protection Agency has since 1997 carried out research funded by the Department into vaccines against meningitis B and C (pneumococcocal meningitis and haemophilus influenzae B meningitis). This includes conducting clinical trials on new vaccines for the United Kingdom schedule, the ongoing evaluation of vaccines already in the schedule, and the development of a new meningitis B vaccine. The total cost of this research has been £10.5 million.
The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the Government supports medical and clinical research. The MRC is an independent body which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
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