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Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the possible (a) side effects, (b) benefits and (c) risks of prescribing the pneumococcal vaccine Prevenar to children who are not identified as at high risk of paediatric pneumococcal disease. 
Ms Blears: Prevenar was authorised by the European Commission in February 2001 for active immunisation of infants and children from two months of age to two years of age against invasive disease (including bacteraemia, sepsis, meningitis, bacteraemic pneumonia) caused by the streptococus pneumoniae serotypes contained in the vaccine. An assessment of the possible risks and benefits of the vaccine for this indication was considered by the Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products, the advisory body to the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) prior to licensing. The at-risk groups were not distinguished. The current product information lists known side effects.
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Studies to document the full burden of morbidity attributable to pneumococcal disease in the United Kingdom's children and to evaluate the vaccine's suitability for use in the routine childhood immunisation programme are also in progress by the Department's vaccine evaluation consortium.
In January 2002, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the Department on national immunisation policy, recommended that the small number of children under two years who are at particular risk from pneumococcal disease, who would be recommended to receive polysaccharide vaccine if they were over two years, should now receive the new pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevenar).
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assistance his Department has been given to research into arthritis since 1997; what new treatments have become available for arthritis sufferers; and what payments are made to sufferers of arthritis to assist with medication costs. 
Ms Blears: The main Government agency for research into the cause and treatments of disease is the Medical Research Council (MRC) which receives its funding via the Department of Trade and Industry. The MRC spend is available from 1999 and is an estimated £12.9 million on research relevant to arthritis.
The Department funds research to support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the national health service. The departmental spend on directly commissioned research projects on arthritis since 1997 is an estimated £2.5 million. The Department has also funded projects relevant to arthritis but with wider relevance, and the expenditure on these has not been counted.
In addition to specific projects, the Department provides support for research commissioned by charities and the research councils that takes place in the NHS. Management of much of the research supported by NHS research and development funding is devolved and expenditure at project level is not held centrally by the Department. The total investment is considerably greater than the spend on directly commissioned projects.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) was asked to appraise the use of infliximab (Remicade) and etanecerpt (Enbrel) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. NICE issued its guidance on 22 March 2002. NICE has recommended the use of etanercept for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and etanercept and infliximab for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
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16 (or under 19 if in full-time education); aged 60 or over; or holds an exemption certificate; or is entitled on the grounds of low income. Prescription prepayment certificates save money for anyone who needs more than a certain number of items over a particular period.
Ms Blears: The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) was asked to appraise the use of infliximab (Remicade) and etanecerpt (Enbrel) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. NICE issued its guidance on 22 March 2002. NICE has recommended the use of etanercept for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis and etanercept and infliximab for rheumatoid arthritis.
On 5 December 2001, the Government announced that they would meet their manifesto commitment to ensure that patients receive drugs and treatments recommended by 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.
Links have been built between the strategy and the work on crime reduction;
A framework for certain key elements of the strategy has been put in place; including:
A training course for general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses is currently being piloted. This will enable GPs and nurses to identify patients who are drinking hazardously and to decide on whether to offer support and advice to these patients or whether to refer them to specialist treatment services.
An increase in the resources available for substance misuse education in schoolsan additional £29.5 million has been put into substance misuse education over the last three years.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 8 May 2002, Official Report, column 269W, on value for money, if he will publish the information used to establish that the Department was on course to deliver the target on value for money changes in the 1998 public service agreement. 
Ms Blears: The published measure for this target was that the Department would achieve its business plan objectives within the running costs limits set by the Comprehensive Spending Review. Running cost plans
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and outturn against them (where available) have already been published in the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) for the years 19992000 to 200203, copies of which are in the Library. The statistics demonstrate that the Department is on track to meet the target.
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) number and (b) proportion of people (i) sleeping rough and (ii) living in temporary accommodation were looked after by local authorities when they were children. 
Jacqui Smith: As at December 2001 there were some 78,600 households accepted as statutorily homeless by local authorities living in temporary accommodation. A household is the unit used to collect this datait will include families with children and other vulnerable couples or single people who have a statutory right to assistance to meet their housing needs from local authorities. The rough sleepers unit estimates that as at November 2001 there were 532 people sleeping rough in England on any night. At present the Department does not keep statistics centrally about where young people are living after they leave care.
The Children (Leaving Care) Act commenced in October 2001. This imposes a new duty on local authorities to ensure that care leavers are provided with suitable accommodation, which will not include temporary accommodation. From 2004, local authorities will be required to submit information to the Department about the performance of their leaving care services, including statistics on the numbers of care leavers placed in suitable accommodation.
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when will appointments to the reconfiguration panel be completed; and whether (a) Kent and Canterbury, (b) Royal Hospital Haslar, (c) Solihull hospital, (d) Kidderminster hospital and (e) West Cornwall hospital Penzance will be referred to the panel. 
Ms Blears: It is vital that the independent reconfiguration panel (IRP) has both the confidence of the general public and credibility within the national health service. We are therefore considering our options very carefully before making any decisions about the membership.
The IRP will offer advice to the Secretary of State for Health on any contested reconfiguration proposals that he asks the panel to consider. However, it will not be asked to consider any proposals that were referred to the Secretary of State for Health before the panel begins workingwhich we anticipate will be in the autumn.
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