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Breast Cancer Guidelines

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the timetable is for the drafting of the new breast cancer guidelines by the British Association of Survival Oncology. [143137]

Yvette Cooper: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) was established to provide national evidence based guidelines. NICE have been commissioned to review and update the Improving Outcomes Guidance in Breast Cancer published in 1996. The review of the breast cancer guidance is due to be published in 2001-02.


Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if an experienced Supervisor of Midwives post will continue to be available to the local supervising authority as their designated responsible officer. [143520]

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Mr. Denham: The Local Supervising Authority function has been successfully discharged by experienced practising midwives since 1996. There are no plans to change this.

The United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing Midwifery and Health Visiting has the power to prescribe qualifications for supervisors of midwives as will the new Nurses and Midwives Council.

Sickle Cell Disease/Thalassaemia

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve the support available to sufferers of (a) sickle cell disease and (b) thalassaemia. [143609]

Mr. Denham: There are a range of hospital and community services in place to support patients with sickle cell and thalassaemia disorders. We are improving services through the development of a new national screening programme for haemoglobinopathies, by raising public and professional awareness and through research designed to provide evidence about the effectiveness of current treatments.


Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many haemophiliac patients have died of HIV/AIDS following the use of contaminated blood products; and how many of these have been co-infected with hepatitis. [143854]

Mr. Denham: 1,240 United Kingdom haemophiliacs were infected with HIV as a result of National Health Service treatment. Of these 813 have died. 99 per cent. of these patients were co-infected with hepatitis.

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons it is his policy that haemophiliac patients should not be entitled to have recombinant factor VIII. [143852]

Mr. Denham: We have instructed health authorities to provide recombinant products to new patients and children under 16 with haemophilia.

Ministers will be meeting with the Haemophilia Society and the United Kingdom Haemophilia Centre Doctors Organisation in January to discuss the case for provision of recombinant clotting factors for all haemophilia patients in England.

Hearing Screening

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will announce a timetable for universal neonatal hearing screening throughout England. [144051]

Yvette Cooper: The NHS Plan sets out our commitment to introducing effective and appropriate screening programmes for women and children by 2004. We announced the 20 pilot sites for universal neonatal hearing screening, which will inform the roll out of the new screening programme.

Hospital Discharges

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 18 December 2000, Official

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Report, column 43W, concerning hospital discharges, if he will provide the same information for each quarter of 1999-2000 and 2000-01. [143789]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 21 December 2000]: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

French Beef

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Government's policy in respect of the regulation of imports of French beef into the United Kingdom. [142354]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 21 December 2000]: I am advised on such matters by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is responsible for food safety issues in Government.

So far as imports of beef from France are concerned, the FSA advice is that legally sold, imported beef, poses no greater risk than United Kingdom beef. To be sold legally, imported beef must comply with the Over-Thirty-Months (OTM) rule. In addition, specified risk material (specified risk material (SRM)--that with the highest risk of infection) must be removed from cattle. New EU wide controls on SRM were introduced from 1 October 2000.

In assessing the safety of imported meat, protecting the public is the FSA's number one priority. As such it applies the following principles:

At the same time, the FSA recognises that individuals may wish to exercise personal preference to reduce as far as possible any risk that may be perceived from imported beef. It has therefore advised consumers that they should:

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what investigatory powers the Food Standards Agency has in regard to imported food and, in particular, French beef. [144313]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 8 January 2001]: Responsibility for enforcement action under the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Standards Act 1999 in respect of imported foods, and foods coming into the United Kingdom from other European member states is primarily the responsibility of local authorities and port health authorities.

The Food Standards Agency has a range of powers under the 1990 and 1999 Acts to oversee and influence this enforcement with a view to ensuring its effectiveness in terms of consumer protection. In exceptional

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circumstances the agency may be empowered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health to discharge enforcement responsibilities normally undertaken by local authorities and port health authorities.

Acting on the advice of the Food Standards Agency, Health Ministers may also prohibit the importation or distribution to the food chain of imported foods likely to involve imminent risks to consumers. However, where the EU has legislated to govern trade in a particular foodstuff or food product, as it has done with meat and meat products, the UK Government's powers to restrict the movement of such goods within the single market are severely restricted.

Tuberculosis Vaccine

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the tuberculosis vaccine will be available in the south-west. [144433]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 8 January 2001]: BCG vaccine against tuberculosis is currently available in the south-west for those individuals at higher risk of TB. Routine immunisation of all school children at age 10-14 was suspended in September 1999 due to severe manufacturing problems encountered by the sole United Kingdom licensed source, Celltech Medeva.

The Department is doing all it can to secure a robust supply of UK licensed and batch released BCG vaccine, and will announce as soon as possible when the routine schools programme can resume. All those who missed their BCG vaccination due to the suspension of the programme will be recalled as part of a catch up programme.

Teenage Pregnancies

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government are taking to ensure that pregnant teenagers receive free impartial advice about (a) abortion and (b) motherhood. [144185]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 8 January 2001]: On 2 January I announced 15 Sure Start Plus pilots. These are new programmes in health action zones with high teenage pregnancy rates and where there are Sure Start programmes that will start delivering services over the next few months. In these pilot areas, personal advisers will ensure that pregnant teenagers have access to comprehensive and impartial advice and counselling in the early stages of pregnancy so they are able to make informed decisions, including whether to continue with the pregnancy, adoption or abortion. The personal advisers will also co-ordinate a support package for new parents, both mothers and fathers, tailored to their individual needs, to help them back into education and employment as well as with healthcare and parenting.

In all other areas, local teenage pregnancy co-ordinators will shortly be developing comprehensive service checklists, as part of local co-ordinated teenage pregnancy strategies between health and local authorities. These will be aimed at young people and professionals whose client groups include young people, and will include details of local services that provide early advice and counselling to pregnant teenagers, and services that provide a range of support, including parenting skills, to teenage parents.

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