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NHS Trusts: Standards

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We have no plans to publish the names of trusts which have or have not met the target.

I refer the noble Baroness to the Answer I gave my noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel on 14 January (WA 42).

Passive Smoking

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We consider that if we are to ensure protection against passive smoking in public places, we need action nationally and locally both to raise awareness of the risks associated with passive smoking and to increase the prevalence of smoke-free environments. The Department of Health will continue to encourage the development of smoke-free policies, working with employers and communities.

At a national level the Department of Health has, since 1998, worked with the hospitality industry to reduce the problem of exposure to passive smoking through the development of a public places charter. The charter commits signatories to increase the provision of facilities for non-smokers, improving ventilation and giving customers better information about the level of smoke-free facilities in an establishment. An independent evaluation of the charter is being commissioned and further work will be considered on the basis of the findings.

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Locally, the department is funding tobacco control alliances across England to work in communities to raise awareness and to increase the number of smoke-free environments. Findings from these projects will inform future development of the department's work in this area.

The Department of Health will, in addition to action already under way, develop education and information resources to raise awareness and understanding of the risks associated with passive smoking.

Health Protection Agency

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will decide the funding allocation for the Health Protection Agency to be set up on 1 April. [HL1529]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Secretary of State for Health has confirmed the overall funding envelope for the Health Protection Agency, Public Health Laboratory Service and the central support for microbiological diagnostic work (carried out by those laboratories transferring to National Health Service trust management). The total sum (in round numbers) is £104 million revenue and £10 million capital.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation

Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will reconsider the practice of ovarian hyperstimulation in infertility treatment following the recent death of a 33 year-old in vitro fertilisation patient in Dublin.[HL1841]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: During in vitro fertilisation treatment a patient's ovaries are stimulated to ensure that sufficient eggs are collected to allow one or two embryos to be placed in that patient at a later stage in her treatment. The drugs prescribed to the patient to achieve this are a matter for her clinician, using his or her professional judgment on the suitable dosage, taking account of guidance issued by professional bodies such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Every care is taken by clinics to avoid ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Where clinics are licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the authority requires that the patient information clearly sets out the risks and symptoms of OHSS. Clinics must also provide patients with 24-hour contact telephone numbers so that any patient who is concerned she may have symptoms of OHSS can obtain immediate advice and help.

The HFEA has no plans, at this time, to issue guidance on the use of ovarian stimulation.

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Mattresses: Medical Devices Regulations 2002

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether mattresses marketed for sale in the United Kingdom as medical devices which contain viscoelastic foam, which has not been combustion-modified to meet United Kingdom regulations, should be labelled accordingly.[HL1859]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: No. Mattresses placed on the market as medical devices must meet the relevant provisions of the Medical Devices Regulations 2002, which include flammability requirements and general labelling requirements to enable the product to be used safely.

P C and S v The United Kingdom

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What guidance they propose to issue to social services departments of local authorities in the light of the judgment delivered by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of P C and S v The United Kingdom.[HL1862]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government received the judgment delivered by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of P C and S v United Kingdom in July last year. The court did not find any Department of Health legislation or guidance to be in breach of the convention. The department is ensuring that this judgment is kept carefully in mind as it develops the guidance necessary to implement the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

Multiple Sclerosis: Beta Interferon

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimates they have made as to the number of patients with multiple sclerosis who have been treated using beta interferon as a result of the risk sharing scheme announced in February 2002; and[HL1911]

    How many patients in England are currently on waiting lists for treatment with beta interferon for multiple sclerosis; and[HL1912]

    How many patient care trusts have still to implement in whole or in part the risk sharing scheme for beta interferon.[HL1913]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We estimate that around 4,600 patients are now receiving treatment with a disease-modifying drug for their multiple sclerosis. Around 2,800 patients were receiving treatment at the start of 2002. We do not have information about numbers waiting to be assessed. We do not hold precise details about the way in which primary care trusts are implementing the scheme, but strategic health authorities have been asked to ensure that they have robust arrangements in place to meet their statutory responsibilities.

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Coronary Heart Disease: Drug Eluting Stents

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How patients with coronary heart disease can obtain treatment with drug eluting stents ahead of the appraisal from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, given that evidence is available on their clinical efficacy.[HL1934]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Primary care trusts as local commissioners of services decide in consultation with local acute trusts and clinicians what services and treatment to provide for their local population. Individual patients should discuss their treatment options with their consultant.

The absence of guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence does not prevent the National Health Service using new drugs or technologies. Standing guidance to the NHS states specifically that clinicians should not wait for NICE guidance but should in the interim period make a local decision about whether to fund a particular intervention on the basis of the available published information.

Crisis: Public Information

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they have made with the media, and in particular the BBC, for the public to receive information in the case of emergency situations.[HL1743]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston) : Standing arrangements are in place with broadcasters to convey information to the public in a time of crisis. Complementing these arrangements, the BBC, with the support of the National Steering Committee on Warning and Informing the Public (NSCWIP), recently publised Connecting in a Crisis, which advises local broadcasters and emergency planning communities on the development of effective local relationships.

A working party established early in 2002 by the Media Emergency Forum (MEF) to review the arrangements for keeping the public informed through the media in the event of a major emergency or crisis reported to Ministers in July 2002.

The working party report and Connecting in a Crisis are available on

In addition, the National Attack Warning System draws extensively on the support of the BBC network. This arrangement enables government to issue public information at very short notice in the most extreme situations.

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Northern Ireland Arts Council Funding

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of Northern Ireland Arts Council funding allocations announced on 25 February went to Irish groups and how much to Ulster Scots groups.[HL1872]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): Of the funding allocations announced by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland on 25 February, 3 per cent went to Irish language oganisations and 1 per cent to Ulster Scots organisations. There were no rejections in either sector: all applications received were funded.

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Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why in the press release from the Northern Ireland Arts Council announcing funding applications of 25 February Altnaveigh House Cultural Society is listed under "Derry City"; and why it is not called Londonderry City.[HL1873]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Arts Council of Northern Ireland in its press release of 25 February listed a number of grant recipients under "Derry City". The heading should have read "Derry City Council area". The council regrets this error and has undertaken to ensure that it is not repeated in future.

The council also regrets listing Altnaveigh House Cultural Society under this heading as it is in fact located in Newry and Mourne District Council area.

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