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Folic Acid

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to introduce folic acid supplements into flour; [42086]

Yvette Cooper: A consultation document on whether or not to fortify wheat flour with folic acid was issued in July 2000 jointly by the Department and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). This was based on the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (2000) conclusion that fortification of wheat flour with folic acid would help reduce the number of births affected by neural tube defects. The consultation responses have been analysed and a summary is posted on the DH website.

Following the consultation, the Department and FSA undertook or commissioned further work to address concerns raised. This work included a preliminary cost-benefit analyses. However, there are considerable uncertainties on key costs and effectiveness variables. The analyses took account of the increased risk of neuropathy in the elderly as well as the benefits of reduced risks of birth defects.

The policy options will need to be considered by the FSA Board as well as Health Ministers. The UK Health Departments and the FSA held a stakeholders meeting on 18 March 2002 to discuss the issue and inform policy decisions.

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Breast Cancer

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what provision is being made to ensure that there are sufficient specialist breast cancer consultants, surgeons and nurses in the North West in the next 10 years. [41939]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 11 March 2002]: The NHS Plan set out our commitment to increasing the workforce and the NHS Cancer Plan confirmed our commitment to investment in the cancer workforce. Cancer networks (including those in the North West) nationally have recently been completing a number of toolkits which have looked at both clinician and nursing posts. Cancer networks are expected to audit their workforce requirements as part of the national standards for cancer. This is monitored through the peer review appraisal process. This information will continue to be used so that appropriate workforce development programmes are in place, which will help ensure that sufficient numbers of breast cancer consultants, surgeons and nurses are in place for future years.

Indium III Octreotide Imaging

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS hospital trusts are able to offer Indium III Octreotide imaging tests. [42276]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 11 March 2002]: The approved name for the radiopharmaceutical Indium III Octreotide is Indium III Pentetreotide. A list of the National Health Service hospital trusts where clinicians hold certificates to administer this product for imaging tests is shown in the list.

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Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether the national standards framework for diabetes delivery strategy will include a commitment to a systematic approach to targeted screening of at risk groups for Type II diabetes; [42711]

Jacqui Smith: Diabetes is becoming more common, even among children, as the population becomes more overweight and sedentary. We are taking forward a wide range of work across Government to tackle obesity, to increase physical activity and improve diet, especially among children. Prevention of diabetes is one of the key areas covered by the Diabetes National Service Framework standards, published last December.

We have asked the UK National Screening Committee to assess the benefits and drawbacks of screening for Type II diabetes. The Committee will make recommendations in 2005.

Mental Health

Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the budget of the Mental Health Review Tribunal is; and what plans he has to increase research for the Mental Health Review Tribunal; [42939]

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Jacqui Smith: Expenditure on the mental health review tribunal in 2000–01 is likely to be just under #12 million, the cost of running the administrative function is just under #2 million. Figures for actual expenditure will not be available until after the end of the financial year.

The Department currently has no plans to commission new research for the mental health review tribunal but does, as part of its normal activity, collect and analyse data to support both the judicial and administrative functions of the tribunal.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not had occasion to meet any of the four regional chairmen for the tribunal in England.

Nursing Staff

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 4 March 2002, Official Report, column 141W, on nursing staff, what his targets are for

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filling modern matron posts; and what additional funding has been made available to help fill these posts. [42620]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 12 March 2002]: When launching guidance to the NHS in April 2001, we announced that there would be around 2,000 matrons throughout the NHS by 2004, and 500 in post by April 2002. Posts are funded from general allocations to Health Authorities.

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