Previous Section Index Home Page

Emergency Healthcare

Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to reform emergency healthcare. [22301]

Ms Blears: On 25 October 2001, we announced the "Reforming Emergency Care" Strategy which provides the first steps to a new approach to reform emergency care services in the national health service.

It is supported by £68 million investment, £40 million of which will be used to fund an additional 600 accident and emergency nursing posts, £10 million to pay for local emergency care leaders to properly coordinate emergency care at local level, and an additional £18 million capital investment to begin implementing new rapid assessment systems.

The "Reforming Emergency Care Strategy" is available on the internet at

Pharmaceutical Advertising

Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her policy is on direct pharmaceutical advertising. [21861]

Ms Blears: The Medicines (Advertising) Regulations 1994, with the Medicines (Monitoring of Advertising) Regulations 1994 (Statutory Instrument 1994/1932–3, as amended), implement European Directive 92/28/EEC and regulate the advertising of all medicines in the United Kingdom. Medicines classified for supply over-the- counter may be advertised to the public although the regulations prohibit advertisements to the public in respect

8 Jan 2002 : Column: 635W

of certain diseases. Medicines available only on prescription may not be advertised to the public. We support the provision of factual information about medicines to patients and the public within the legal framework, in order to encourage safe and correct use.

Recent proposals to amend European law relating to the advertising of medicines are being carefully scrutinised. We do not support lifting the prohibition on advertising prescription only medicines to the public.

Teenage Pregnancies

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the extra funding under the Winter Supplementary Estimates to the Supply Estimates 2001–02 for the Department of Health Teenage Pregnancy Unit is to be spent. [22248]

Ms Blears: Funding totalling £4 million has been allocated through health authorities to support implementation of local teenage pregnancy strategies. Local teenage pregnancy partnerships, which include leads from health and local authority and other relevant agencies, will agree the most effective use of this additional funding.

A further £1 million is being invested in work at national level to support implementation of both the prevention and support aspects of the teenage pregnancy strategy including the national media campaign for young people.

Cirencester Hospital

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will reply to the petition presented on 13 November from the vendors of the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard regarding Cirencester hospital. [22266]

Ms Blears [holding answer 11 December 2001]: The level of provision of health services at Cirencester hospital is a matter for the local national health service bodies to determine.

NHS Appointments Commission

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what percentage of appointments by the NHS Appointments Commission have been of disabled persons; [22206]

8 Jan 2002 : Column: 636W

Ms Blears [holding answer 11 December 2001]: The National Health Service Appointments Commission has been operational since 2 July 2001. Since then it has made 597 appointments, of which 464 related to appointments which had come to an end. The remaining 137 are appointments to new NHS trusts and primary care trusts.

Of those appointed 45.9 per cent. (274) were women, 9.4 per cent. (56) from the black and minority ethnic communities and 4.2 per cent. (25) declared that they had a disability.

35.8 per cent. (214) of those appointed had declared political activity. A breakdown is given in the table.

Liberal Democrat5.432

Details of the information recorded by the NHS Appointments Commission about the primary background of those it has appointed is given in the table.

Manager and administrator26.8160
Other professional20.3121
Health professional3.219
Teaching professional9.758
Science and engineering0.85
Associate professional4.527
Clerical and secretarial0.74
Craft and related0.21
Personal and protective0.53
Retired health professional2.213
User/carer/voluntary sector18.8112

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many members of the NHS Appointments Commission are (a) women and (b) black or Asian. [22210]

Ms Blears [holding answer 11 December 2001]: The National Health Service Appointments Commission has four members who are women and none from the black or Asian communities.

Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Chairman of the NHS Appointments Commission (a) is and (b) has in the past (i) been a member of a political party and (ii) made a party political donation in the last three years. [23813]

Ms Blears: Applicants for posts on national health service boards are asked to declare any political activity in the last five years. Such political activity is defined by the Commissioner for Public Appointments and does not include membership of a political party. It does include information on political donations.

The chair of the NHS Appointments Commission declared in his application for the post that he had not been politically active, nor had he made any party political donations, in the previous five years.

8 Jan 2002 : Column: 637W

Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what reports he has received on reactions to over-the-counter drugs containing pseudoephedrine hydrochloride; [22471]

Ms Blears: Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride (a decongestant) has been an ingredient of many over-the- counter (OTC) cold and flu remedies for many decades. There have been 757 suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) reported to the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) through the yellow card scheme in association with pseudoephrine containing products since 1965.

The most commonly reported suspected ADRs with pseudoephedrine hydrochloride are allergic reactions (skin rash, facial swelling), cardiovascular reactions (increased or irregular heart rate), psychiatric reactions (depression and hallucinations), difficulty in passing urine, headache, insomnia, nightmares, nausea and vomiting. It is important to note that a report of a suspected ADR does not necessarily mean that it was caused by the drug and underlying conditions or concomitant medications may be implicated.

Guidance on the use and side effects of medicines is provided to patients in the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) which accompanies the medicine. The Medicines Control Agency and the CSM continually monitor the safety of all medicines to ensure that the product information contains appropriate and up-to-date guidance on safe, correct use at the recommended dose and warnings about side effects.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects NICE to consider Viagra and its availability by NHS prescription. [22764]

Ms Blears: We have no plans to refer impotence treatments, including Viagra, to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. We recently announced that arrangements introduced in 1999 restricting the eligibility for these treatments on the national health service will continue. The extra cost of allowing unrestricted prescribing is likely to involve diversion of funds from other NHS priorities.

Meat Industry

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the UK's progress towards meeting the EU's meat hygiene legislation with particular reference to the levels of (a) veterinary controls and (b) supervisory measures implemented. [22669]

Ms Blears: In 1998, following infraction proceedings against the United Kingdom by the European Commission, we agreed to bring veterinary supervision levels in licensed meat plants in Great Britain into line with the requirements of European Union meat hygiene rules, namely the Fresh Meat (64/433/EEC) and Poultry Meat (71/118/EEC) Directives. It was not possible to secure immediate compliance largely because of a

8 Jan 2002 : Column: 638W

shortage of veterinarians in Great Britain willing to undertake meat hygiene work. The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), which provides veterinary inspection and supervision services in GB on behalf of the Government, therefore had to put in place a concerted and long-term campaign to recruit and train the required additional veterinarians. The aim was to achieve full compliance by 1 April 2001. During the next three years the MHS increased veterinary supervision in plants in a risk-based and staged process with incremental increases being introduced as and when additional veterinary resources became available.

The MHS was well on course to meet the deadline when the foot and mouth outbreak occurred at the beginning of this year. This led to an unprecedented demand for veterinarians to assist in combating the disease and many practices which had contracted to supply additional resources to the MHS found themselves losing staff to the fight against the epidemic. These losses severely jeopardised the ability of the MHS to ensure full-time Official Veterinarian Surgeon supervision in all full-throughput slaughterhouses by the target date. Even so, the MHS was successful in arranging the required supervision in all but nine of the 305 full-throughput slaughterhouses operating in Great Britain as at 1 April 2001. Since then MHS has continued to introduce full-time supervision where possible, and full compliance was achieved in full-throughput slaughterhouses and cutting premises by November of this year. This achievement is due in no small part to the intensive and successful efforts of the MHS to recruit additional veterinarians.

The UK authorities have notified the Commission of this position. The extensive, prescriptive and detailed inspection and supervisory measures required by the Directives are enshrined in national legislation, namely the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 (as amended) and the Poultry Meat, Farmed Game Bird Meat and Rabbit Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 1995 (as amended).

Next Section Index Home Page