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Lord Warner: As part of a programme to expand the range of services offered by NHS Direct, work has begun to develop and run an NHS Direct information service across all digital TV platforms in England. This service will complement the existing NHS Direct services accessed via the telephone, the Internet and at electronic information points. The development of the service by the Department of Health follows a series of successful pilot projects conducted during 200102, which explored possible health applications of digital interactive television. The NHS Direct digital TV service, which will be launched in 2004, will provide information on health conditions and treatments, healthy living, medicines, health advice for travellers, health and safety advice and details of local NHS services, including performance information.
Reports on the independent evaluation (by City University & Sheffield University) of the Department of Health's pilot projects exploring possible health applications of digital interactive television (a summary and a full report) are now available at: http://www.soi.city.ac.uk/organisation/is/research/dhrg/reports/index.html.
The current focus of our work on this project is to identify and select, through a competitive public procurement exercise, a commercial partner with whom the department will work to develop and run the NHS Direct information service. As part of this procurement exercise, potential partners are required to demonstrate how they would provide a service which meets our objectives of extending the reach of NHS Direct services, improving the speed and convenience for those accessing health information and information on the NHS and encouraging appropriate self-care. This procurement process is ongoing. We expect to be able to announce the award of a contract in October 2003.
Following the selection of a commercial partner to develop and run the service, we will be consulting widely on the content of the servicewith patient groups and their representatives, with the NHS and local authorities, with agencies such as the Food Standards Agency and the Health and Safety Executive and with groups and agencies with interests and experience in providing services to those with hearing and sight disabilities. We have already had discussions with, for example, the Deaf Broadcasting Council.
As with the pilot projects, the service will have a quality assurance process to ensure the quality of the information seen on the TV screen and will be independently evaluated to ensure that lessons are learned and incorporated into the development of the service.
Lord Warner: The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, in close collaboration with other government departments, including the Department of Health, is currently developing the national alcohol harm reduction strategy. The Strategy Unit is due to publish an interim analysis paper in the summer. The final report, which will set out the cross-governmental alcohol harm reduction strategy, is planned for publication in the autumn. It will be implemented according to timetable by 2004.
As part of this project the Strategy Unit project team and the sponsor Minister, Ms Hazel Blears, Minister of State for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety, have had ongoing discussions with all relevant stakeholders and carefully examined the evidence. The final report will consider a wide variety of issues including the advertising of alcohol.
Lord Warner: The Government are aware of a wide range of views on the subject of euthanasia, ranging from those for whom any form of euthanasia is abhorrent to those who believe that there is a need to allow assisted suicide and euthanasia in very limited and carefully regulated situations in which traditional palliative care is unable to bring relief to self-selected individuals. The Government have no plans to change the current law in this area but will listen carefully to the public debates.
Lord Warner: Products placed on the market as medical devices must meet the requirements, including those related to flammability, of the Medical Devices Directive (transposed in the United Kingdom by the Medical Devices Regulations 2002).
Lord Warner: The 200203 report and accounts of the Medical Devices Agency have today been laid before the House of Commons pursuant to Section 7 of the Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000. Copies have been placed in the Library.
Lord Warner: The national Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease surveillance unit's 11th annual report has been published today. The report documents the unit's findings in relation to sporadic, familial and iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), and also variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), up to 31 January 2003. Copies have been placed in the Library, and are also available on the unit's web site at www.cjd.ed.ac.uk.
Lord Warner: The United Kingdom's implementing regulations to transpose the Clinical Trials Directive into domestic law will not be laid before Parliament until after 14 October 2003 when Parliament is due to reconvene. Member states are required to fully implement the directive by 1 May 2004.
Lord Warner: The National Health Service Purchasing and Supply Agency's annual report and accounts 200203 have today been laid before the House of Commons pursuant to Section 7 of the Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000. Copies have been placed in the Library.
Lord Warner: We have received the report and copies have today been laid in accordance with the requirements of Section 5 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921. Copies have also been placed in the Library.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): I am happy to inform the House that I am today publishing the latest edition of the Forward Look of Government-funded science, engineering and technology (SET).
The Forward Look is the Government's publication of government-funded SET and R&D expenditure data compiled by the Office for National Statistics. Forward Look highlights the outcome of the latest spending review as well as historical trends in government expenditure.
The theme for Forward Look 2003 is "making a difference". Entries from departments, research councils, learned bodies and devolved administrations set out to explain, with examples of tangible outcomes, how SET is helping them deliver policy and public services in their priority areas.
Forward Look 2003 also aims to illustrate how the economy and society can benefit from science and technology, as we explore new areas of science and look for ways of exploiting technology. It helps government in their efforts to engage the public in a meaningful way to learn about and express their views about the possible directions of science and its impacts on society. Forward Look 2003 will be of value to all of us interested in science, and government-funded research and science policy in particular. The
Forward Look 2003 shows that there has been a further substantial increase in the overall science budget as a result of the 2002 Spending Review, with the research councils receiving new funding to increase the volume of top-quality research and to take forward specific new projects.
Forward Look 2003 sets out in detail how the Government's significant investment in science is being spent. Funding for science, engineering and technology is increasing from £8.46 billion in 200203 to £8.61 billion in 200405 in real terms. In particular we are focusing on investing in our excellent science base because cutting edge science is at the heart of a successful economy.
Copies of Forward Look 2003 have been placed in the Library of the House and have also been sent to the Clerks of both the Commons and Lords S&T committees.
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