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Food Supplements

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: The Government are obliged to implement the Food Supplements Directive 2002/46/EC. Failure to do so would be a serious breach of the United Kingdom's obligations under the European Commission treaty and would attract infraction proceedings by the Commission under Article 226 and the likelihood of heavy fines.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: The Government's assessment of the impact of the regulations is set out in the regulatory impact assessment; copies have been placed in the Library. My honourable friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health (Miss Johnson) will be meeting with representatives of Consumers for Health Choice and representatives of other consumer groups in the near future.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Warner: The Government have always argued that maximum limits for vitamins and minerals in food supplements should be safety based so as to minimise unnecessary restrictions on consumer choice. They continue to press this case with the European Commission and with other European Union member states at every opportunity. Negotiations on maximum limits at European Union level will follow publication of advice from the European Food Safety Authority; we do not expect the European Commission to issue an initial proposal before the end of this year.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Motion agreed by the House on 30 June relating to the Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003, whether they will now undertake a fundamental review of the information that is required to be included in dossiers submitted to the European Food Safety Authority in order to have nutrients and nutrient sources added to the list of permitted ingredients.[HL4113]

Lord Warner: Following representations from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), representatives of United Kingdom food supplements manufacturers will meet with representatives of the European Food Safety Authority in October to discuss requirements for dossier content and the potential for simplified dossiers. In the mean time, preparatory discussions between officials from the FSA and manufacturers' representatives are under way.

Warrington: Pensioners and NHS Sight Tests

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many pensioners in Warrington take the free eye test each year.[HL4121]

Lord Warner: The table shows the number of National Health Service sight tests paid for in North Cheshire Health Authority in the years ending 31 March 1999 to 2002. Figures for the number of sight tests by constituency, or by age are not collected centrally. Information for Warrington Primary Care Trust is not yet available.

Eligibility to NHS sight tests was extended to those aged 60 and over from 1 April 1999. There was an increase of about 10,000 sight tests between 1998–99 and 1999–2000. It is reasonable to assume that the vast majority of this increase was due to newly eligible people aged 60 or over obtaining NHS sight tests.

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General Ophthalmic Services: Number of sight tests paid for in North Cheshire HA for the years 1998–99 to 2001–02

YearTotal number of sight testsTotal number of sight tests for the age 60 and over

Sight tests can not be equated to the number of patients. Although most people do not come back for a sight test within the year, some patients suffering from medical conditions are advised to have re-examinations sooner.

Haemophilia Patients: vCJD Blood Donors

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many National Health Service patients with haemophilia are known to have been treated with plasma from donors with vCJD.[HL4217]

Lord Warner: Information on the number of haemophilia patients treated with blood products from donors diagnosed with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is not known.

Sickle Cell Anaemia

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What financial or other support they provide to charities involved in sickle cell anaemia research.[HL4236]

Lord Warner: The Department of Health provides National Health Service support funding for research commissioned by charities that takes place in the NHS. Charities that currently fund, or have recently funded, research in the NHS relating to sickle cell anaemia include the Wellcome Trust, Action Research and the Stroke Association.

The department has recently awarded a £30,000 Section 64 grant to help the Sickle Cell Society increase its production of video tapes, audio tapes and leaflets for distribution and dissemination.

NHS Redress Scheme

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they will ensure that compensation for adverse outcomes from medical treatment is equitable and related to disability, rather than to contract cost, given the different costs of National Health Service procedures in different parts of the country; and[HL4238]

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    In light of the report Making Amends:

    (a) how case managers will be appointed and trained;

    (b) how their work will relate to local services;

    (c) how they will set up and monitor packages of care under the redress scheme; and

    (d) to whom they will report their activities; and[HL4240]

    What safeguards are proposed to prevent the National Health Service redress scheme from being overwhelmed by frivolous claims; and[HL4241]

    Given the positive role that complaints can play in driving up standards of care, how they will prevent complaints from being treated as an automatic route to compensation under the National Health Service redress scheme.[HL4242]

Lord Warner: The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, has proposed an NHS redress scheme which will provide appropriate redress to patients who believe they have been harmed as a result of the health care they have received.

A detailed design for the redress scheme will not be completed until the close of the consultation period upon the Chief Medical Officer's report and the issues raised by those responding to his recommendations have been considered. The scheme will conform with the principles outlined in the Chief Medical Officer's report, which are—

    to provide a fair, equitable and appropriate response to people who have been harmed in the course of their health care. It is intended that all care then required will focus on the needs of individual patients.

Redress will include a full investigation of the events complained about; a clear explanation of those events; an apology, immediate and remedial care where those are necessary; and financial compensation where that is appropriate.

Prompt and thorough investigation of events complained about, and careful assessment of the case for compensation by any successor body to the NHS Litigation Authority, will exclude unjustifiable claims from the scheme. The possibility that there may be a higher number of requests for redress, both justified and not justified, will be considered in full during that time.

The detailed design of the redress scheme will take into account a number of issues, including:

    (a) The results of research commissioned for the Chief Medical Officer's report which suggests that most people want an investigation, explanation and apology when something has gone wrong, and evidence that action is taken to reduce the risk of a reoccurrence. Only some people seek financial compensation.

    (b) The need for clear criteria that will be used to determine whether or not financial compensation is warranted, and so make clear what the scheme can and cannot offer complainants, from the outset.

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The recruitment, training, working practice and accountability of those responsible for securing care for people who have suffered harm as a result of their earlier care will be considered in full at that time.

Fresh Frozen Plasma

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have considered sourcing fresh frozen plasma exclusively from male donors so as to protect against the risk of transfusion-related acute lung injury; and, if so, why such action has not been taken.[HL4250]

Lord Warner: The Government's Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissue for Transplantation has considered the relative efficacy and risks of the different types of fresh frozen plasma (FFP) available.

The National Blood Service is currently looking at the practicalities of producing FFP from male donors, and a plan has been produced for implementation over the next six to nine months. In addition, all imported FFP for children born on or after 1 January 1996 will come from male donors.

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