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Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reason the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's decision on Beta Interferon has been delayed; and on what date NICE will announce its decision. 
Mr. Denham: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has extended the timescale of its appraisal of Beta Interferon and the drug glatiramer acetate to develop further economic modelling on these drugs.
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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects NICE to make its recommendations on the efficacy of (a) Beta Interferon and (b) Copaxone; and if he will ask NICE to consider the merits of the two drugs separately. 
Mr. Denham: We expect the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to consult on draft guidance later this year, following the development of further economic modelling on Beta Interferon and glatiramer acetate (Copaxone). Further details can be found on the NICE website at www.nice.org.uk. NICE is giving individual consideration to Beta Interferon and glatiramer acetate.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he plans to modify his Department's 1995 advice on drug therapies for MS to include Copaxone; and if he will make a statement. 
The Department issued Health Service Circular 1999/176 in August 1999. This asks National Health Service bodies to continue with local arrangements for the managed introduction of new technologies where guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is not available at the time the technology first became available. These arrangements should involve an assessment of all the available evidence.
Mr. Denham: Current guidance issued in 1995 recommends that health authorities should have in place arrangements for hospital specialists to initiate treatment in light of the available evidence and local priorities.
Health authorities and clinicians have made different judgments because there is no authoritative guidance. We expect the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to produce such guidance later this year.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if existing NHS guidance in respect of disease modifying therapies for MS will apply to (a) Copaxone and (b) other drugs licensed by the MCA. 
The Department did however issue Health Service Circular 1999/176 in August 1999 which asked National Health Service bodies to continue with local arrangements for the managed introduction of new technologies where guidance from the National Institute for Clinical
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Excellence is not available at the time the technology first becomes available. These arrangements should involve an assessment of all the available evidence.
Mrs. Roe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he takes to monitor the number of beds available in the private sector for continuing care; if health authorities publish lists of the number of such beds available; and how many of such beds there were at the beginning and end of the latest 12-month period for which figures are available. 
The Department collects information annually on independent private and voluntary sector nursing care homes registered under Section 23 of the Registered Homes Act 1984. Details are collected from the health authorities on the number of general nursing homes, mental nursing homes and private hospitals and clinics and the registered beds within these homes.
National statistics on the number of registered beds in independent sector nursing homes as at 31 March 2000 were published in the Statistical Bulletin "Community Care Statistics 2000: Residential Personal Social Services for adults, England" in November 2000. National statistics relating to 31 March 1999 were published in the Statistical Bulletin "Community Care Statistics 1999: Private Nursing Homes, Hospitals and Clinics". Copies of both publications are available in the Library.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what categories of submissions from civil servants to Ministers, other than those relating to (a) intelligence and (b) personnel matters, are not circulated to Special Advisers; 
Ms Stuart [holding answer 10 January 2001]: Special Advisers in this Department have access to material produced by permanent civil servants in accordance with paragraph 14e of the "Model Contract for Special Advisers".
Mr. Denham: I understand that the trust is progressing this matter in line with their own employment procedures. It would therefore be inappropriate for Ministers to comment on, or initiate an inquiry into an issue which may become the subject of a legal process.
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Ms Stuart: A great deal of information is already publicly available about the licensing of new medicines, including the publication of minutes of the meetings of Medicines Act advisory bodies, Patient Information Leaflets and a Summary of Product Characteristics for every licensed product. The Medicines Control Agency continues to promote greater access to information while protecting legitimate confidential interests.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if (a) stoma care, (b) ulcer/pressure sore dressing, (c) peg feeding and (d) changing catheters for residents in nursing homes will be paid for under his proposals if they are delegated and supervised by a registered nurse. 
Mr. Hutton: We are not developing a task-based approach to the care provided by a registered nurse, but one centred on the needs of the person and input which needs the skills of a registered nurse. The nurse responsible for the individual's care will assess whether any aspect of the care can be safely delegated. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the National Health Service will pay for the input from the registered nurse.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many residents currently in nursing homes will be affected by his proposals for the NHS to pay for nursing care in nursing homes from October 2001; and if he will publish estimates of those likely to be affected in future years. 
Mr. Hutton: Approximately 35,000 residents of nursing homes will benefit from our proposals for the National Health Service to pay for care from registered nurses in nursing homes. Other changes we are making to the funding of long-term care mean that numbers will be broadly similar for the next three years.
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country for assessing for nursing care, referred to in paragraph 219 of the Explanatory Notes on the Health and Social Care Bill. 
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