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Foot and Mouth Disease: Reopening of Footpaths in Cumbria

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: We hope that it will be possible to open most footpaths and open fells in the Lake District National Park before the end of 2001. The rate of opening will, however, depend on the course of the disease. It is too soon to say how long after the last case the area can be declared free of infection. But paths can be considered for reopening on a case-by-case basis as the situation evolves, and we welcome the fact that Cumbria County Council has already been able to lift restrictions on some of its footpaths.

Foreign Registered Vehicles: Road Accidents

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether records are kept of the number of foreign registered vehicles involved in road accidents; and, if not, what would be the cost of so doing.[HL1712]

Lord Whitty: Data on foreign registered vehicles involved in road accidents are not available. However, the gathering of such data in the future is to be assessed as part of the upcoming five-year rolling review of the STATS 19 collection system.

Foot and Mouth Disease: National Parks

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they are taking to ensure that Britain's national parks will be able to uphold their statutory purposes during and after the foot and mouth crisis.[HL1796]

Lord Whitty: We have asked National Park Authorities to produce estimates of extra costs they have incurred and loss of income resulting from the effects of foot and mouth. We are committed to ensuring that the Park Authorities continue to fulfil their statutory duties.

Braille Labelling for Medicines

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the introduction by the Co-operative Group (CWS) Limited in their Welcome Store in Stepney of Braille labelling on over-the-counter medicines; and whether they will encourage the wider use of Braille labelling for medicines.[HL1609]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government strongly support this initiative by the Co-operative Welcome Store in Stepney which was launched by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment on 13 March. By enabling ready identification of important medicines in daily use such as aspirin and paracetamol, this initiative represents a major step forward for safe self-medication for blind and partially sighted people. Solving the technical problems in achieving this will bring benefits more widely, as the initiative is rolled out to Co-operative food stores and pharmacies across the country.

The Government are committed to ensuring that all medicines are used correctly and safely on the basis of full and comprehensive product information. The Medicines Control Agency, in the guidelines to the pharmaceutical industry, encourages marketing authorisation holders to make statutory medicines information accessible for the blind and partially sighted via Braille, large print and audio.

Parkinson's Disease: Diagnosis

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the recent report by Professor David Burns of Newcastle General Hospital that some 25 per cent of patients thought to have Parkinson's disease have been wrongly diagnosed.[HL1666]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government have not been made aware of particular difficulties in the diagnosis of patients with Parkinson's disease. The Government will continue to emphasise that all doctors, including general practitioners, receive training designed to ensure they have the basic skills, knowledge and experience to provide quality services to patients, including those with Parkinson's disease, and to respond to changing patterns of disease and modern methods of healthcare delivery.

Community Pharmacies

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have to assist community pharmacists in providing discrete quiet areas in pharmacies for counselling on medicines management, pharmacist prescribing and other services.[HL1704]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government's programme for pharmacy in the National Health Service in England is set out in Pharmacy in the Future--Implementing the NHS Plan published in September 2000, copies of which are available in the Library. In that document we said that we will be discussing with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee changes to the terms of service

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and distribution of remuneration for community pharmacy to establish minimum standards and to promote and reward high quality services. The standard of premises and the provision of private consultation areas are likely to be among the issues discussed.

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What help they are considering to enable community pharmacists, especially those who are single-handed, to engage an additional pharmacist to assist in the provision of new services; and what material encouragement they will provide to help community pharmacists to undertake the additional training required for such services.[HL1705]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There are many opportunities for community pharmacists to become involved in providing additional services on behalf of the National Health Service. Such services may be funded in a variety of ways and pharmacists and pharmacy owners will seek to negotiate payments which appropriately take into account any investment they have made or will need to make in staffing and training.

In addition, the continuing professional development of pharmacists and their staff will be one of the issues we intend to include in discussions with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee in due course about changes to existing terms of service and national remuneration arrangements for community pharmacy in order to promote and reward high quality services.

We will also continue to support the provision of training materials for community pharmacists through our Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education. This will include new training materials to meet new health priorities such as medicines management.

Pharmacy Workforce

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking, in consultation with pharmacy organisations, to ensure an adequate supply of pharmacists to provide the new services which they and the profession now seek to make available.[HL1706]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Workforce modelling previously undertaken by the Department of Health suggests a 12 per cent. increase in the pharmacy workforce between 1998 and 2003, despite the change to a four-year undergraduate course. Building on this experience, the department is supporting the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's initiative to establish a pharmacy workforce advisory group to scope future pharmacy workforce needs and advise on how supply and demand could be managed.

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Home Care and Non-residential Services

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the Department of Health's timetable for responses to its consultation paper on fairer charging policies for home care and non-residential services and the issuing of final guidance; and whether, and if so when, it is intended to tell local authorities that their policies should not reduce disabled people's incomes below income support levels. [HL1707]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Consultation ended on 30 March and we are now considering the responses. We intend to issue statutory guidance to local councils during the summer.

Contaminated Blood: Judgment

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 5 April (WA 130), whether their response to Mr Justice Burton's judgment in the High Court on 26 March concerning contaminated blood supplied by the National Blood Authority will be reported first to Parliament. [HL1708]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government have decided not to seek leave to appeal against the judgment given by Mr Justice Burton on 26 March.

Although an appeal would have provided an opportunity to seek clarification on some aspects of the judgment that may have a bearing on the future liability of National Health Service bodies, the Government did not wish to subject the claimants to a further period of uncertainty while the appeal was under way.

The Government are now focusing on the implications of this judgment, which will take time to consider.

Interactive Television Systems: Statutory Provisions on Data Processing

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What statutory provisions apply to the processing of data by interactive television systems and digital set top boxes.[HL1568]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The processing of data by interactive television systems and digital set top boxes is covered by the provisions of the Data Processing Act 1998 and as such comes under the auspices of the Information Commissioner.

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