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Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the effects on the sugar industry in Swaziland of sugar imports from the EU. [8616]

Clare Short: We have not recently made any detailed assessment of the sugar industry in Swaziland.


Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps she is taking to ensure that more routes for humanitarian aid convoys into Afghanistan are opened up as soon as possible. [8776]

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Clare Short: My Department is actively supporting the endeavours of the UN agencies—including the UN World Food Programme, the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations to deliver as much food as possible through existing land convoy routes into Afghanistan.

We are also encouraging the opening of new land convoy routes by backing the representations of international humanitarian agencies to the Governments of neighbouring countries, requesting that they open their borders to allow the transportation of vital relief supplies into Afghanistan. The funds that we are channelling through international aid agencies working in the region are being used to stockpile relief goods in neighbouring countries for assistance to Afghan refugees and for onward transportation into Afghanistan as conditions allow.

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been allocated since 11 September for humanitarian relief in Afghanistan; and how it has been distributed. [8781]

Clare Short: We have set aside £40 million to respond to the current crisis affecting Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. About £22 million has already been allocated to agencies for their work in the region: approximately £14 million to UN agencies; £3 million to the Red Cross movement; and around £5 million to non-governmental organisations.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of the bombing campaign on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan; [9074]

Clare Short: A temporary cessation in military action would not remove our difficulties in getting supplies into Afghanistan which have been difficult for a long time and were halted after September 11 before the military campaign began.

The UN has recently increased its delivery of food although this is still short of what is required to lay down sufficient stocks for the winter. The World Food Programme has reported delivery of 6,644 tonnes of food to Afghanistan in the first half of this month. We continue to work with WFP to increase the rate of delivery.


Spinal Injuries

Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will ask the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to consider the use of methylprednisolone in the emergency treatment of spinal cord injuries; and if he will make a statement; [6746]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 15 October 2001]: There has been a recent review of the evidence, in the journal Spinal Cord 2000, "High Dose methylprednisolone in the management of acute spinal cord injury—a systematic review from a clinical perspective." Their conclusion was that,

We are committed to keeping all interventions and treatment regimes under scrutiny and will consider commissioning guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence if we believe the treatment will have a significant impact on patient care, National Health Service resources, Government health related policies or the ability to add value, for example by resolving uncertainty over the appropriate use of the technology.

Pharmacists Remuneration

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was paid, in 1990 values, to pharmacists for each prescription dispensed in each year since 1990–91. [7268]

Jacqui Smith: Remuneration paid to pharmacies is intended to cover the generality of the National Health Service pharmaceutical services they provide. The scope of these services is not restricted just to dispensing prescriptions and has changed over time. The total remuneration to be paid in any given year is distributed through a system of fees and allowances, some of which relate directly to the number (and type) of prescriptions dispensed, some of which do not. However, if the total remuneration paid to pharmacies in each year is divided by the number of dispensing fees paid, the result is as set out in the table.

Value of payments made to community pharmacies, in England and Wales, per dispensing fee received—1990–91 to 2000–01 (in 1990–91 prices):

YearValue in 1990–91 prices

Trolley Waits (Leicestershire)

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the average waiting time on a trolley before admission to Leicestershire hospitals in the last 12 months. [8523]

Mr. Hutton: In the 12 months from the beginning of July 2000 to the end of June 2001, 15,690 patients were

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admitted as an emergency through the accident and emergency department at University Hospitals of Leicester National Health Service Trust.

Sudden Death Syndrome

Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the different methods available for screening young people for the conditions constituting sudden death syndrome. [8860]

Jacqui Smith: Sudden adult death syndrome is not one single condition but a group of conditions which result in the sudden and unexpected death of apparently healthy young adults.

Many of the deaths in this syndrome appear to be caused by cardiomyopathies. Our policy is that the relatives of a family with a known high risk of contracting this disease should receive regular cardiovascular examinations.

The United Kingdom National Screening Committee (NSC) advises Ministers, the devolved National Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament on all aspects of screening policy. The NSC does not currently recommend screening for cardiomyopathy but is keeping its position under review.

The Department is working closely with the medical profession and voluntary organisations with a view to producing clear clinical guidance, which will play a key role in raising awareness, and in improving the diagnosis and testing of people at risk.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his latest estimate of the number of people who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. [8861]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not collected, although data can be provided on hospital in-patient care.

The figures in the table are taken from the hospital episode statistics database, which contains details of patients admitted to and treated in national health service hospitals in England.

The number of finished consultant episodes for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in the 1999–2000 data year are as follows:

Obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy454
Other hypertrophic cardiomyopathy172

A finished consultant episode is a period of in-patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. These figures do not represent the number of patients as a person may have more than one episode within the year.

National Strategy for Alcohol

Mr. Lepper: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on progress in publishing and consulting on a national strategy for alcohol. [8867]

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Jacqui Smith: The broad timetable for the strategy is set out in the NHS Plan, which was published in July 2000. The plan said that the Department would be implementing the strategy by 2004. The Department expects to publish a consultation paper in due course.

Drug Abuse

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the steps his Department is taking to reduce drug abuse in Worcestershire. [8627]

Mr. Hutton: Worcestershire health authority has a countywide strategy for substance misuse which has been agreed by all the relevant agencies. The health authority is leading on the following initiatives included in the action plan for March 2001 to April 2002:

The multi-agency drug action team is currently working to implement the strategy across the county.

In addition, the health authority received £1.14 million (for 2001–02) from the Department to reduce drug abuse in Worcestershire.

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