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Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the public health consequences of reclassifying medicines from prescription-only to pharmacy sale; and where the liability for the use of these products will lie; 
(2) if he will make a statement on where the liability for the use of products newly reclassified from prescription-only to pharmacy sale will lie; 
(3) if he will make a statement on the risks to public health of changes to the availability of treatments by reclassifying medicines from prescription-only to pharmacy sales. 
Ms Blears: The changes to the process by which the legal status of a medicine is changed (introduced on 1 April 2002), are designed to speed and streamline the procedures, halving the time taken to deliver a change from application to decision, while maintaining appropriate safeguards.
The changes to the process do not impact on the liability for a product. Where the liability for the use of a product lies will vary according to the circumstances of each individual case but will be the same for products with an existing legal status as for those which have been newly reclassified.
Patient safety remains paramount and any application to consider a change of legal status for a particular medicine will continue to require an applicant to demonstrate its safety in use, including without medical supervision, and that the patient information is suitable for the medicine to be made more widely available.
Making more medicines more widely available when it is safe to do so is a key part of the national health service objective to empower patients. Many patients are expert on their own conditions and early access to treatments for known conditions can have a significant public health benefit where early intervention would not otherwise be possible.
Mr. Hutton: 188 patients have been treated in other member states of the EEA since 18 January 2002 under the pilot scheme to send patients overseas for treatment. Of these 112 were treated in France and 76 in Germany.
In addition, 340 applications for treatment within the EEA were approved under the E112 scheme between 1 January and 22 April 2002 (Great Britain figure, rounded to the nearest 10). The countries concerned were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients were waiting over six months on the in-patient waiting list in (a) each quarter since March 1997 and (b) each month since January 2001. 
30 Apr 2002 : Column 760W
|Year||Quarter||six months +|
DH QF01 return
|Month||Year||Six months +|
DH monthly waiting list returns.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the waiting times were, broken down by regional health authority, for radiography treatment in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Waiting times for radiotherapy treatments are not collected centrally. The NHS Cancer Plan set out maximum waiting time targets for first definitive cancer treatment which will come into effect over the next few years. Arrangements to monitor these targets are currently being put in place and will cover radiotherapy where this is the first treatment.
30 Apr 2002 : Column 761W
From December 2001, there is a one month maximum wait from diagnosis to first treatment for breast cancer and a one month wait from urgent general practitioner referral to first treatment for children's, testicular and acute leukaemia. By 2005, there will be a maximum one month wait from diagnosis to first treatment for all cancers. Monitoring of these targets is being introduced and figures will be published as the targets apply.
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates for the last quarter of 2001 were published in Communicable Disease Weekly of 28 March 2002. This is available on www.phls.co.uk/facts/ Vaccination/VaccIndex.htm. A copy has been placed in the Library.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the total savings to public funds of the Private Finance Initiative contract for a medium secure unit for the Oxfordshire Mental Health Care NHS Trust by comparison with a non-Private Finance Initiative alternative. 
Ms Blears: The business case justifying the individual schemes estimated the net savings in present value terms (ie all future costs and benefits discounted to their present values) compared with publicly funding the scheme as follows:
|Trust||PFI (£000)||Public (£000)||Savings in net present value terms (£000)||Difference (Percentage)|
|Oxfordshire Mental Healthcare NHS Trust||3,707||3,777||70||2|
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which Bills introduced by his Department in the last five years have contained sunset clauses; and what plans he has for the future use of such clauses. 
Mr. Hutton: None of the Bills introduced by the Department in the last five years contained a sunset clause. The use of such provisions in future will be considered on a case-by-case basis as the circumstances require.
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Yvette Cooper: The Department has had formal meetings with the United Kingdom Haemophilia Centre Doctor's Organisation (UKHCDO) and the Haemophilia Society and more informal discussions with other groups from the haemophilia community.
The Government are considering extending the provision of recombinant clotting factors to all haemophilia patients in England. Recombinant clotting factors are provided in England for new haemophilia patients and children under 16 (from April 1998). The UKHCDO has advised that recombinant clotting factors are available to those who are eligible to receive them.
Ms Blears: The Department has made no specific estimate of the prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome in England and Wales, although the World Health Organisation estimates an incidence of between 0.33 and 9.7 per 1,000 live births in a range of countries. The risks of excessive drinking during pregnancy are well documented, and for this reason the Government recommend that women who are pregnant or who are trying to become pregnant do not drink more than one to two units of alcohol per week.
Ms Blears: The Department does not collect specific information about the incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Where FAS is recognised at the time of delivery, it may be recorded in the clinical details on the HES (Hospital Episodes Statistics) record. The number of cases is likely to be small: the World Health Organisation estimates an incidence of between 0.33 and 9.7 per 1000 live births in a range of countries.
FAS will of course be recorded on an individual patient's medical records, to ensure that health and other professional staff are aware of the situation and can help the sufferer to access the support that they need.
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