Previous Section Index Home Page

MMR Vaccine

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made with plans to launch a national advertising campaign to promote the MMR vaccine. [57455]

Ms Blears: Through frequent and extensive market research studies, it is clear that parents want clear, consistent advice based upon the facts about MMR. The Government's efforts have therefore focused on ensuring both parents and health professionals have access to scientifically accurate information about the vaccine. The leaflet 'MMR—the facts' has been updated. To supplement this an information pack for parents containing factsheets, website references, a list of published research and a glossary of terms has been developed. The availability of this information pack, through NHS Direct, is being advertised in the national and regional press.

Prescription Fraud

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of fraudulent exemption claims for prescriptions were submitted by pharmacists in (a) 1998, (b) 1999, (c) 2000 and (d) 2001. [61974]

Mr. Lammy: The responsibility for detecting fraudulent claims for prescriptions submitted by pharmacists has lain with the Prescription Pricing Authority for each of the years referred to.

The number of cases where they have detected potential fraud is detailed in the table:

Number of referrals

In March 2002 it was decided, in order to put in place more effective arrangements, that the national health service counter fraud service should take over this area of work. This is likely to take place late in 2002.

The table represents the number of investigations carried out, where the pharmacist has received the prescription charge from the patient and then submitted

4 Jul 2002 : Column 570W

the prescription for payment as exempt. The majority of these referrals were identified during samples for targeted checks on patient claims to exemptions, and may not be representative of all patient exemption claims as a whole.

Waiting Lists

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department is taking to reduce the waiting times of elderly patients and mental health patients on the Isle of Sheppey. [61814]

Ms Blears: The Government are committed to improving services for the elderly and mentally ill. National service frameworks have been published for both mental health services and those for older people, setting out new standards of care with targets for delivery.

I understand that Swale Primary Care Trust is currently considering options to improve waiting times for elderly and mentally infirm patients and also to improve access to mental health services.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his estimate is of the in-patient hospital waiting list in (a) March 1997, (b) December 2001, (c) March 2002, (d) June 2002 and (e) the latest date for which information is available; and if he will make a statement. [66286]

Mr. Hutton: The table shows published figures for the number of patients waiting for elective admission at national health service trusts in England at month end. Figures for April 2002 are the latest available. Data for June will be published on 9 August.

Patients waiting for elective admission: NHS Trusts, England

Month endNumber
March 19971,158,004
December 20011,050,221
March 20021,035,365
April 20021,046,265


Department of Health form KH07


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects the final results of the research being carried out for the Food Standards Agency of the Veterinary Laboratories Agency into the level of scrapie infectivity after intestine processing for sausage casings to be (a) completed and (b) published. [64113]

Ms Blears: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that work funded to date by the agency on sheep intestines has shown that not all the tissues that are most likely to contain scrapie infectivity are removed by the casings manufacturing process. A contract to carry out work to quantify the risk reduction has not yet been awarded. Such work is likely to involve bioassay and may take some time to complete and publish.


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when he expects the European Commission's country by country assessments of the geographical

4 Jul 2002 : Column 571W

bovine spongiform encephalopathy risk of small ruminants (a) to be sent to this Department and (b) to be published; [64110]

Ms Blears: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency, that the agency's board endorsed a report on BSE and sheep from a core group of stakeholders at its meeting in Armagh on June 13. The report contained a recommendation that the agency should request that European Commission accelerate the provision of country by country BSE risk categorisation for small ruminants. The agency has formally registered the report with the Commission, but does not yet have information on the time scale for the completion of the risk categorisation.

Committee Mandates

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the mandate of the EU Advisory Committee on cancer prevention is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the United Kingdom representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. [63635]

Ms Blears: The Europe Against Cancer (EAC) programme was set up under Article 129 of the Maastricht Treaty. The programme has a management committee made up of representatives from each member state. The management committee has met once in the last year. The costs to public funds were minimal, meetings last one day, the Commission pay the travel costs of nominated representatives, UK departments are required to pay subsistence and UK travel costs.

The programme is currently funding eight projects: European network of cancer registries; European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition; European network on smoking prevention; European network on young people and tobacco; European cervical cancer screening network; European breast cancer network; education, science and quality assurance in radiotherapy and a project to evaluate the European code against cancer.

The overarching European public health action programme of which the EAC programme is one part ends on 31 December 2002. The new European public health action programme has been agreed under conciliation procedures and is expected shortly.

Together with member states, the Commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to

As an obligation to this decision, the Commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 February 2002 (Com (2001) 783 Final.

4 Jul 2002 : Column 572W

As part of the review process, the UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.

Disease Statistics

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the collection of statistics on mobility and mortality rates of various conditions and diseases. [63661]

Ms Blears: The Department makes use of the following information on mortality and morbidity, in particular to support the NHS Plan, "Our Healthier Nation" and work on health inequalities.

Mortality statistics are the responsibility of the registrar general who is also director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The cause of every death is certified either by a doctor who attended the deceased in his last illness, or a coroner. ONS codes the diseases, injuries and external causes from the certificate and selects the underlying cause using the current revision of the international classification of diseases, published by the World Health Organisation. Since January 2001, the Tenth Revision (ICD-10) has been used. Prior to that, the Ninth Revision was in use from 1979. Mortality statistics are published by ONS in electronic and paper form and are used by the Department, other Government Departments, the national health service and academic researchers.

The Department collects and uses a wide range of data on morbidity according to the condition of interest and the context of the question to be answered

Data sources in the Department and the ONS include population surveys (such as the health survey for England, general household survey) and health services data (such as hospital episode statistics and the Royal College of General Practitioners Weekly Returns Service). Data sources include administrative sources and ad-hoc surveys according to the particular issues. Some sources have general health information and others focus on specific conditions (eg cancer registration, psychiatric morbidity survey). Further details of these and other sources are available on the Department's and ONS websites, public/stats1/htm,

Next Section Index Home Page