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Whether in view of the mental and physical health problems associated with cannabis use, has the Department of Health made any representations to the Home Office in connection with the policies of de-classifying cannabis to class B and of reduced enforcement activity by the police.[HL1367]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health provides support to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which considered the appropriate classification of cannabis under the Misuse of Drugs Act and which recommended to the Home Secretary that cannabis should be reclassified. The department assisted the ACMD and ensured up-to-date research on health problems associated with cannabis was made available to the Home Office. The
What guidance have general practitioners, hospital doctors, accident and emergency staff and other health care professionals in the North West of England received regarding patient treatment in the event of a major biological, chemical or nuclear incident; and what mechanisms are in place to enable these healthcare professionals to implement any such guidance[HL1370]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Since September 11 2001, National Health Service preparations have been stepped up to ensure we are as prepared as we can be in responding to a range of possible new threats such as the deliberate release of chemical or biological agents or incidents associated with radiological or nuclear hazards.
The NHS has increased its preparedness by stockpiling medical equipment, antidotes, antibiotics and vaccines. The Department of Health has issued specific guidance to the NHS on the public health response to the deliberate release of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) incidents, mass decontamination and mass casualties. A new protective suit has been issued for use by ambulance and accident and emergency staff working on the decontamination of patients.
The Department of Health has made available through the emergency planning section of its website www.doh.gov.uk/epcu a comprehensive package of guidance for clinicians on dealing with the consequences of deliberate release. This information is regularly updated. The website contains a link to the Public Health Laboratory Service website www.phls.org.uk which provides additional clinical and other information.
In the North West arrangements for providing effective specialist advice to NHS responders (which include not only hospital and ambulance staff but also general practitioners, community nurses, health visitors, mental health services and pharmacists) are co-ordinated through the Regional Public Health Network, led by the Regional Director of Public Health.
The network includes a regional health emergency planning team, regional epidemiologists and three zonal health protection units (HPUs), each with specialist staff including consultants in communicable disease control and health emergency planning officers, and is available to NHS responders on a 24-hour basis.
HPUs are in regular contact with primary care trusts, acute hospital trusts and strategic health authorities in the region providing advice on best practice in response to CBRN incidents, arranging training and exercising of plans and emergency equipment and providing specialist health input as necessary during a major incident.
At the regional level, the health emergency planning team keeps under review all hospital, ambulance service and PCT major incident plans to ensure that they are up to date and that best practice is shared across the region.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We received over 200 written responses to the consultation paper on the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Our decision to proceed with the agency's creation, first as a special health authority and subsequently as a non-departmental public body, takes account of the widespread support for establishing the agency.
Because the consultation paper set out proposals for creating the HPA by regulatory reform order, it did not simply invite views on general principles but made relatively detailed proposals about the nature of the legislation needed. Many of the responses similarly made detailed points. We are continuing to consider these points in deciding on the details of the legislation to establish the agency. We aim to publish a report on the consultation exercise at the same time as our proposals for changes to primary legislation, since at that stage we shall best be able to show how we have taken into account the detailed points made.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We intend that the health protection agency (HPA) will be responsible for a number of functions currently performed by a number of different bodies. The amalgamation of these responsibilities into a single agency is designed to strengthen specialist support for health protection and health emergency planning.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Our proposals for the health protection agency (HPA) offer a coherent, co-ordinated and robust approach that will ensure better public health security. We intend that from 1 April 2003 the HPA will support the United Kingdom Government in the same way as the bodies whose responsibilities we propose should transfer to it on that date currently do. The amalgamation of the bodies into a single agency is designed to strengthen specialist support for health protection and health emergency planning.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Subject to legislation, the health protection agency (HPA) will be established as a special health authority on 1 April 2003, and new staff employed by the HPA as from 1 April will commence employment on National Health Service terms and conditions using local pay and grading arrangements.
How many patients with classic, with no occult, subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) will receive treatment as recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the final appraisal determination of photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration; and[HL1398]
How many patients with predominantly classic subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) will receive treatment as part of the clinical studies recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the final appraisal determination of photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration; and[HL1399]
How many patients with predominantly classic subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) will not receive treatment as part of the clinical studies recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in the final appraisal determination of photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration; and[HL1400]
Whether they will fund the clinical studies recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the final appraisal determination of photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration; and what assessment they have made of the cost of these studies; and[HL1401]
Whether they will continue to fund treatment for patients with predominantly classic subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) who currently receive treatment with photodynamic therapy but who may be excluded from treatment on the basis of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's final appraisal determination of photodynamic therapy for age-related macular degeneration.[HL1402]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is carrying out an appraisal of photodynamic therapy as a treatment for age related macular degeneration. It has not yet published any guidance to the National Health Service on this topic. NICE prepared its final appraisal determination on photodynamic therapy and circulated it to consultees on 16 January. We understand this document has been appealed against. NICE will now consider any appeals before publishing its final guidance.
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