|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Robson of Kiddington: My Lords, in view of the increasing incidence of breast cancer diagnosed in women over 65, may I ask whether the Government have any plans to extend the screening programme to women over that age?
Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, again the programme was established in the light of the Forrest committee's report. But the advisory committee on breast cancer screening is looking again at the age factor. We are also aware of some small pilot schemes being run to test whether women who are offered the opportunity take up the invitation. In the past there was anxiety that women over 64 would not do so. If they seek the screening, then they may have it on request; but that is not a matter of course.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I should like to say how pleased I am that in both the Minister's replies this afternoon she has indicated how much research is going on in the health service. However, it would be nice to think that we can have slightly more precise answers which are not dependent on long-term research into some of the questions. Regarding breast cancer, would it be more helpful in reducing our alarming mortality rate if, instead of extending the amount of screening, people were trained more precisely in diagnosing early breast cancer? Then when patients come forward, their GPs can recognise it at an early stage?
Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, late last year we launched a new policy for breast cancer and all cancers. Part of that policy was better training for GPs and reorganising the treatment services so that we can consolidate the expertise in the bigger units. We are very conscious that the first suspicions of breast cancer are often discovered by the GP.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, will the Minister confirm, as she did partly a moment ago, that mammography tests are available at any time for those women who have a special anxiety or who are alerted by their GPs to have cause for concern? The Question refers only to routine screening. I should declare that I am chairman of the Royal Free Hospital. Is she aware that at that hospital over 50 per cent. of the appointments made by women to attend the Easy Access Clinic for a mammography test are not kept? Does she not believe that that is a waste of valuable NHS resources?
Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that question. The first part of it is completely correct. I have now found the figure. There are 80 screening centres in England and in addition there are mobile units. We are very concerned about the number of patients who not only do not keep those appointments but other appointments in the National Health Service. In January my right honourable friend the Secretary of
Lord Kennet: My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord might wish to be a little more forthcoming to the House. There is a war zone in which there is a United Nations force, quite a sizeable part of which is provided by this country. Croatia has declared that if the United Nations does not remove its force within a few weeks it will itself require its removal and will drive the force out. In those circumstances, is it not striking that while the President of the United States appears roughly to be backing the position of the United Nations in defence of which our own soldiers are involved, the Leader of the Senate appears to be backing the opposite position? I ask the noble Lord whether at the minimum this in practice is causing any embarrassment as regards carrying out the duties which this country has undertaken there?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the reply I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, was cautious because we do not believe that the gloss which the noble Lord put on the matter is the correct one. We understand that in a television phone-in programme the Foreign Minister of Croatia, in reply to a caller, mentioned that he had been in constant touch with Mr Dole over the issue of the arms embargo.
We understand from inquiries that we have made that Mr. Granic's spokesperson confirmed that there were official contacts between Mr. Granic and Mr. Dole, and that these are in fact part of normal diplomatic activity and relate in particular to the Croatian Government's decision not to renew the UNPROFOR mandate to which the noble Lord has alluded. As far as we know, the contacts cannot be described as constant. To the best of our belief Mr. Dole is at one with the United States Government and with ourselves, the United Nations Security Council and the European Union, in agreeing that this proposal by the Croatian Government is contrary to the interests of everybody concerned. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Croatian Government to think about this. I believe that the noble Lord will agree with me that were UNPROFOR to leave Croatia it would undoubtedly be a step for the worse.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, for his question. My understanding is that agreement was reached between the European Union members and the United States to try to bring forward the proposal to bring the leaders of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia together.
The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, can my noble friend tell the House whether our Government have had any direct contact with the Croatian Government on this matter given the fact, as he himself suggests, that the withdrawal of UNPROFOR could lead to a drastic and traumatic widening of the conflict?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his question. As I have already explained, we are very anxious about this matter and believe that it is very important that UNPROFOR does not leave Croatia. We have taken every step possible to impress on the Croatians the seriousness with which we view the proposal. I am not in a position to spell out in detail the exact nature of the direct contacts which may have been made with the Croatian Government.
Lord Chalfont: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the present situation in the former Yugoslavia is a typical example of the dangers that ensue when the United Nations engages in military action in a situation without any apparent clear political or military aim? Will Her Majesty's Government take that into consideration in their future attitude towards events in the former Yugoslavia?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the point which the noble Lord makes is obviously relevant. The problem that we all face in the context of what has happened in Yugoslavia is that nobody wanted matters to develop in the way that they have. If we were tackling the matter afresh we would not start from here. Inevitably, because of the very nature of the problem, one has to move one step at a time. Often that means that the progress, or the lack of it, which one appears to make seems frustrating and difficult. With the wisdom of hindsight I fully accept that it is possible to argue that matters should have been processed and brought forward in a different manner. But that does not alter the fact that in the real world one has to deal with the real problems as one finds them. I do not believe that anyone in this House would suggest that the United Nations has not been anything other than a force for good in this conflict and that it has saved a very considerable number of lives in the former Yugoslavia.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, returning to the meeting of the contact group yesterday, can the Minister confirm that it agreed to lift sanctions against Serbia provided that certain conditions were met? Can he also confirm that one of the those conditions was that Serbia should not get involved in any war that might break out within Croatia following the removal of UN troops? If that is the case, can the Minister reassure the House that there will be careful monitoring to ensure that those
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I can confirm that if events move forward satisfactorily then sanctions may be lifted on Serbia. I am not in a position to confirm or deny the particular details which the noble Baroness gave because I do not know the answer. I would not want to mislead your Lordships' House. I am quite willing to write to the noble Baroness with the details as soon as I can discover them.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page