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Lord Warner: The work of the Export Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM) covered a five-year period and has involved expenditure by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of Health, and since its establishment the Food Standards Agency. The Food Standards Agency has led on the work of the EVM over the past three years and costs in respect of meetings and publication of the EVM report over this period have totalled £76,000.
The work of the EVM, which considered over 10,000 scientific papers, is a valuable resource on a subject which is the most up-to-date, independent, expert assessment of the issue yet to be published. As such it will inform policy decisions on the safety of vitamins and minerals on a United Kingdom and European basis.
Lord Warner: The scientific panel of the European Food Safety Authority that will deal with food supplements will be the Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Foods.
Lord Warner: The issues of missing nutrients and maximum permitted levels for nutrients within the provisions of the Food Supplements Directive are just two of a number of policy issues being addressed by the Food Labelling and Standards (FLS) Division of the Food Standards Agency. FLS Division has a budget for 200304 of £3.187 million and a complement of 37 full-time equivalent staff. The FLS divisional business plan lists work on food supplements as high priority.
Lord Warner: The Government are firmly committed to the view that, in the interests of consumer choice, the law should allow food supplements that are safe and properly labelled to be freely marketed.
The most recent formal discussions on this issue took place in the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses in November 2002 and involved representatives of all European Union member states other than Luxembourg; no firm
The Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for negotiations on this issue, is taking every opportunity to press this case bilaterally with member states. In addition, in May, the Food Standards Agency wrote to EU member states to advise them of the conclusions of the United Kingdom Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals (EVM) on safe intakes of vitamins and minerals. The EVM's advice will form the basis of the UK's position when substantive discussions at EU level take place in due course. Joan
What plans are in place to ensure continuity of care for patients who have grown to rely upon electronic transmission of prescription services as part of the current pilots, as wider plans are made to replace the pilots by a national programme; and[HL3625]
What plans are in place to avoid disruption to general practitioner practices that have supported the Department of Health's electronic transmission of prescription pilots, as wider plans are made to replace the pilots by a national programme.[HL3626]
Lord Warner: The electronic transmission of prescriptions pilots have demonstrated that prescriptions can be transmitted electronically in an accurate and secure manner, and now having served their intended purpose they will be formally closed with effect from the end of June 2003. In order to ensure that patients do not experience difficulties in obtaining their prescriptions and to minimise inconvenience to healthcare professionals, an appropriate timeframe for ceasing the processing of electronic prescriptions will be agreed with the remaining pilots.
The pilots have been independently evaluated and this information is being used by the National Programme for National Health Service Information Technology to develop a sustainable, national prescription service.
Lord Warner: We appreciate the real contribution carers make in looking after their disabled relatives. We are working to make sure that carers have the information and help they need to support them in their caring role. The Mencap report identifies some areas of particular concern to carers and is a helpful contribution to the work we are already taking forward.
The Learning Disability Task Force, which monitors the implementation of the White Paper Valuing People: A New strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century (Cm 5086), published in March 2001, will be looking in detail at issues affecting family carers at its meeting in September. The Valuing People Support Team, which offers advice and support to Learning Disability Partnership Boards, has work around family carers issues as a priority for 2003. The Learning Disability Helpline, funded jointly by Mencap and the Department of Health, offers advice and information on a wide range of learning disability issues and is already well used by family carers.
The carers grant, worth £100 million this year, provides money for local councils to provide short breaks for carers to enable them to continue in their caring role. Information on the number of breaks for carers is collected annually.
To support provision of good quality carers services the Department of Health published Quality Standards for Local Carer Support Services in February 2000. Monitoring the quality of services for carers is undertaken as part of the Social Service Inspectorate performance assessment function.
Lord Warner: The Personal Social Services Research Unit of the University of Kent (PSSRU) was commissioned to evaluate the Care Direct pilot. Its interim report was completed in the autumn of 2002 and published earlier this year on the Care Direct
Lord Warner: The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for taking forward the development of a Third Age Service. It is doing so in the light of the interim evaluation report, published earlier this year by the Personal Social Services Research Unit of the University of Kent, and the invaluable experience of live running of Care Direct over 18 months.
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This grant included the costs of the pilot project managers and their support staff and associated expenses; the costs of any voluntary organisation who provided assistance with the pilot project; and the cost of any purchase of capital equipment that would be used in support of the pilot project. Detailed information about the amount of staff time spent planning and setting up the project is not held. None of the authorities has reported any costs incurred as a result of stopping work on the pilots.