Previous Section Index Home Page

Myotonic Dystrophy

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of research into the (a) causes and (b) treatment of myotonic dystrophy. [49922]

Ms Blears: The Department has made no recent assessment of research into the causes and treatment of myotonic dystrophy.

X-ray Plates

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the number of X-ray plates exposed in the NHS in each of the last five years. [49987]

Ms Blears: The information requested is not collected centrally.

However, information on the number of imaging and radiodiagnostic examinations by imaging modality carried out by national health service trusts in England is available on the Department's website hospitalactivity.


Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost to the NHS would be of providing (a) free prescriptions and (b) free dental care to students in full- time education; and if he will make a statement. [52910]

Ms Blears: Full-time students under the age of 19 are already entitled to free prescriptions and free dental care. Some other students may be entitled to free prescriptions and free dental care on low income or maternity grounds, or to free prescriptions because they suffer from a medical

10 Jun 2002 : Column 1074W

condition which confers entitlement to exemption from prescription charges. The estimated costs in England of extending free treatment to remaining students in full-time education are shown in the table.

£ million
Free prescriptions(86)27
Free dental care(86)15

(86) Approximately

Voluntary Organisations

Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the contribution voluntary organisations make to the running of the national health service. [53073]

Ms Blears: The Department has not undertaken a specific assessment of the contribution of voluntary organisations to the national health service.

Involving the voluntary sector, particularly within the framework of the compact agreement, is integral to NHS policy development and service delivery. The Department recognises the significant breadth of contributions made to the NHS at all levels by voluntary, community and charitable organisations. At national level these range from membership of the Department's policy development groups to contributing to specific consultation exercises. Locally voluntary organisations often provide specific services, for example volunteer hospital transport schemes to enable better patient access; and providing information and support networks for patients, their carers and families, about living with specific medical conditions.


Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Buteyko method of asthma treatment. [52553]

Ms Blears [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The Department has not commissioned National Institute of Clinical Excellence to undertake a formal evaluation of the Buteyko method of asthma treatment and the Medical Research Council is not currently funding research into this treatment.

The Department recognises that some people find complementary medicine treatments helpful in relieving the symptoms of certain conditions, particularly chronic conditions for which conventional medicine cannot provide a complete solution. Complementary medicine treatments, may be provided on the national health service if those responsible for commissioning health services on behalf of patients locally (primary care trusts) consider that they are a clinically and cost effective means of meeting an identified health need.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the cost would be of providing free medication to all asthmatics irrespective of age; [56442]

10 Jun 2002 : Column 1075W

Ms Blears: We estimate that the loss of prescription charge income in England would be over £50 million a year. Additionally, there could be significant additional costs to the drugs bill if people with asthma who currently pay charges sought prescriptions for medicines and other items which they currently purchase.

Our policy is to give priority to helping people who may have difficulty in paying charges, rather than extending the exemption arrangements to people with other medical conditions including asthma.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when Ministers from his Department last met representatives from the World Health Organisation to discuss the issue of asthma; and what plan of action was agreed to tackle the increase in asthma levels in (a) children and (b) adults. [59580]

Jacqui Smith [holding answer 24 May 2002]: My right hon. Friend the Minister of State (Mr. Hutton) recently attended the World Health Assembly which took place from 13 to 18 May. This included a ministerial Round Table on general risks to health, however asthma was not a formal topic of debate.


John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many deaths owing to heroin overdose there were in each of the last three years in (a) England and (b) Bassetlaw. [59630]

Ruth Kelly: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from John Kidgell to Mr. John Mann, dated 10 June 2002:

Deaths related to heroin or morphine poisoning,(88) England,
1998 to 2000

Number of deaths
Calendar yearEnglandBassetlaw(89)
1999715    3

(87) As heroin breaks down in the body into morphine, the latter is often detected at post mortem. For this reason, all deaths mentioning heroin or morphine have been included.

(88) Selected using the following codes from the International Classification of Diseases Ninth Revision, where heroin or morphine was also mentioned:

292 (drug psychoses)

304 (drug dependence)

305.2–305.9 (non dependent abuse of drugs

E850-E858 (accidental poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biologicals)

E950.0-E950.5 (suicide and self-inflicted poisoning by solid or liquid substances)

E980.0-E980.5 (poisoning by solid or liquid substances, undetermined whether accidentally or purposely inflicted)

E962.0 (assault by poisoning—drugs and medicaments).

(89) There are too few deaths in Bassetlaw to show the figures for individual years.


Deaths occurring in 1998, 1999 and 2000, as recorded on the ONS database of drug-related poisoning deaths using geographic boundaries as at April 2001.

10 Jun 2002 : Column 1076W

Health Checks

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what means of assessing the success of the Government's programme for health checks for the over-75s are available. [53409]

Jacqui Smith: The Medical Research Council, with the support of the Department, has been conducting a trial of assessment and management of elderly people since 1994. The study is being conducted in over 100 practices in the United Kingdom, covering nearly 33,000 people aged 75 years or over registered with participating practices. The trial is now in the analytic stage, findings will be available in autumn 2002.


Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure health authorities implement NICE's recommendations on the prescription of anti-TNF for children and adults with severe rheumatoid arthritis. [55271]

Jacqui Smith: On 5 December 2001, we announced that we would meet our commitment to ensure that patients receive drugs and treatments recommended by National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) on the national health service if deemed appropriate by their clinicians. Directions have been issued obliging health authorities and primary care trusts to provide appropriate funding for recommended treatments.

From 1 January 2002, the NHS has three months from the date of publication of each technology appraisal guidance to provide funding, so that clinical decisions made by doctors involving NICE recommended treatments or drugs can be funded.

Next Section Index Home Page