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European Union Directives

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the European Union directives and regulations relating to his Department that have been implemented in

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each of the last four years, specifying (a) the title and purpose of each, (b) the cost to public funds of each and (c) the cost to businesses of each. [39117]

Yvette Cooper: The information on the European Union directives and regulations relating to this Department and any costs to public funds of these regulations is not held centrally and can be assembled only at disproportionate cost. The Department has however produced regulatory impact assessments (RIAs) for proposals, including those originating in European legislation, likely to impose significant costs to business, charities or voluntary organisations. Copies of these have been placed in the House Libraries.

Myeloid Leukaemia

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on trials for the drug Glivec for chronic myeloid leukaemia being conducted in the UK; how many patients are included in the trials; what the total cost of the trials will be; and if he will make a statement. [38411]

Yvette Cooper: The Medical Research Council (MRC) is not currently funding any studies using Glivec.

However, the STI571 Prospective International Randomised Trial (SPIRIT) for newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukaemia—which proposed using Glivec—is under consideration, and a decision is expected from the MRC by July at the latest. Figures for numbers of patients and total cost have not been finalised. It is important to note that all clinical trial applications made to the MRC are considered in open competition for funding with all other calls on MRC resources.

Novartis, the pharmaceutical company which manufactures Glivec, have conducted pre and post licensing trials of Glivec for chronic myeloid leukaemia.

Homeopathic Treatment

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what his policy is towards funding homeopathic treatment in all parts of England; and if he will make a statement; [38814]

Yvette Cooper: The Government are committed to a patient centred NHS where those in the front line in providing NHS services have maximum flexibility to develop those services in a way which is responsive to local health needs. The NHS must also take into account the needs and wishes of patients.

Complementary and alternative medicine treatments, such as homeopathy, can feature within NHS services—and this is a matter for local decision. Our Complementary Medicine Information Pack for Primary Care Groups stated that the best evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy was in treating illnesses with an allergic component.

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I do from time-to-time receive representations from individuals and organisations about the role of complementary and alternative medicine within the NHS. I am not aware of any recent representations specifically about the withdrawal of homeopathy.

Car Passenger Deaths (Children)

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many child car passengers from social class (a) five and (b) one have been killed in car accidents in each of the last five years; and in how many of these accidents speed was a contributory factor. [39968]

Yvette Cooper: The social class of child car passengers killed in car accidents is not routinely recorded, nor is the specific causation.

The 1997 ONS publication "Health Inequalities: Decennial Supplement" states that:


The number of child car occupant fatalities is as follows:

Deaths
199679
199774
199864
199971
200049

NHS Recruitment Special Envoy

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what countries the Government's Special Envoy for the national health service will visit in his recruitment drive; and what his budget is. [40459]

Mr. Hutton: We are working with Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub to plan a programme of international visits.

There is £3 million to support the International Fellowship Scheme over the next year.

International Recruitment

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to extend the ethical foreign nurse recruitment code of practice to the recruitment of overseas (a) medical practitioners and (b) professionals allied to medicine; and if he will list those (i) covered and (ii) not covered. [40458]

Mr. Hutton: The purpose of the code of practice is to promote high standards in the recruitment and employment of all health care professionals from abroad.

Recruitment of internationally qualified medical staff and other health care professionals have specific sections within the code of practice.

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MMR Vaccine

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the system for the reporting of adverse side effects of the MMR vaccine. [40686]

Yvette Cooper: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 24 May 2000, Official Report, columns 507–08W.

Digital Hearing Aids

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects NHS trusts in Gloucestershire to provide digital hearing aids; and if he will make a statement. [40439]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 5 March 2002]: The "Modernising NHS hearing aid services" project is evaluating leading edge digital hearing aids for NHS patients, coupled with an evaluation of associated service delivery changes. Digital hearing aids require different service delivery models as they incorporate IT based assessment and fitting procedures. £10.75 million has been made available to 20 pilot sites across the country in 2000–01 and 2001–02. On 24 December 2001 we announced funding of £20 million would be available for 2002–03. This will enable the 20 pilot sites to continue to participate in the project and will enable at least a further 30 new sites to join the project and be fitting digital hearing aids by the end of March 2003. The Gloucestershire Health Community has submitted an expression of interest in participating in the project. A decision on the bid will be made shortly.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS trusts (a) are and (b) are not providing digital hearing aids; and if he will make a statement. [40438]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 5 March 2002]: At least 48 national health service trusts are providing digital hearing aids under the bulk purchase contract arranged by Purchasing and Supply Agency. This includes the 20 sites in the first wave of the Modernising Hearing Aid Services' pilot project. The number of trusts accessing the bulk contract is increasing as more sites attain the infrastructure needed. Around 100 sites are providing only analogue aids.

Folic Acid

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when the Food Standards Agency is expected to complete its consideration of the legal, technical and health implications of fortification of flour with folic acid and make its recommendation to Government; [40777]

Yvette Cooper: The Food Standards Agency (FSA), together with Health departments, is hosting a stakeholder meeting on the issue of fortification of flour with folic acid on 18 March 2002. The aim of this meeting is to ensure that, all relevant information and points of view are taken into account.

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I understand that following the stakeholder meeting, the FSA board plans to consider the issue at its open meeting on 9 May 2002. Health Ministers will, thereafter, consider the way forward on the issue taking the agency's advice into account.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the recommended dose is of folate for women to reduce the risk of spina bifida pregnancy. [40780]

Yvette Cooper: The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy issued advice on the prevention of neural tube defects (the most common of which is spina bifida) in 1992.

Women who are trying to conceive or who are likely to become pregnant, are advised to take a daily 400 g supplement of folic acid until the 12th week of pregnancy. In addition, all women who may become pregnant are advised to increase their daily intake of folic acid by eating more folate-rich foods and foods fortified with folic acid—especially breads and breakfast cereals.

To prevent the recurrence of a neural tube defect, folic acid supplements are a daily dose of 5 milligrams (5000 g) are advised and this can be reduce to 4mg, if this dose becomes available.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the evidence relating to the effect flour fortification with folic acid has on rates of (a) homocysteine levels, (b) stroke, (c) stroke mortality, (d) heart attacks and (e) colon cancer. [40779]

Yvette Cooper: The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) report on folic acid and the prevention of disease (2000) noted that fortification of flour with folic acid might result in a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD, especially strokes and heart attacks).

In otherwise healthy people, an increased blood level of homocysteine is associated with increased risk of CVD. Studies have shown that low intakes of folate are an important cause of increased homocysteine level in the general population and increasing folate intake can reduce homocysteine level. However, whether there is a causal relationship between folic acid intake and cardiovascular disease still requires confirmation. There are on-going randomised controlled trials assessing the impact of lowering homocysteine levels (by increasing folic acid intake) on incidence of heart disease.

In 1998, the COMA report on the nutritional aspects of cancer concluded that there was insufficient evidence for any specific links between folate intake and the development of cancer.


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