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Quangos

Volume 77: debated on Monday 15 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Advisory Group on Hepatitis submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

The Advisory Group on Hepatitis met twice. On the basis of the Group's advice, in December 1984 the Department issued guidance for health care personnel dealing with patients infected with Hepatitis B virus. this is contained in CMO(84)11 and CNO(84)7, copies of which are in the Library.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Advisory Committee on Assessment of Laboratory Standards submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

The Advisory Committee on Assessment of Laboratory Standards (ACALS)met three times during the 12 months to 31 March 1985 and submitted wide-ranging advice on all three occasions with the objective of improving the concordance of clinical laboratory results throughout the National Health Service and in the private health care sector. It thus plays an important part in securing accurate and reliable diagnosis of disease. We took action to disseminate or follow up by other appropriate means all the advice received.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Committee on Dental and Surgical Materials submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given;(2) on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Committee on the Review of Medicines submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

The statutory committees on the Review of Medicines and on Dental and Surgical Materials provide a continuous flow of written advice on general matters and on individual cases concerned with the safety,quality and efficacy of medicinal products and related subjects. The action taken on such matters depends on the particular circumstances but it is exceptional for the advice not be accepted. Information about detailed advice' given by the committees is commercially confidential.The latest available figures cover the 12 months until 31 December 1984. During that period the number of product licence applications referred for advice to the Committee on the Review of Medicines was 108 and to the Committee on Dental and Surgical Materials was 100. In addition advice was obtained from the Committee on the Review of Medicines about the revocation on safety grounds of 11 product licences.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Central Advisory Committee or. Rural Practice Payments submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

On one occasion. As a result, fees for visits paid by general medical practitioners to lighthouses and islands were revised with effect from 1 January 1985.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Joint Group on Performance Indicators submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

The Joint Group on Performance Indicators formally submitted its Report in January 1985. That report gave as its main recommendation that the Department should issue a set of Performance Indicators in 1985 based on the work of the joint group and its working groups. The report also contained twelve detailed recommendations. The Department is now taking action to implement all the recommendations of the joint group; a new package of Performance Indicators will be issued to the Health Service this summer.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Maternity Services Advisory Committee submitted advice to his Department; and what action was takenby his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

In the 12 months ending 31 March 1985, the Maternity Services Advisory Committee submitted advice on one occasion, in the form of its 3rd and last report "Care of the Mother and Baby", published on 21 February 1985. We distributed over 13,000 copies of this report to the Health Service, and to professional and lay organisations; and have asked health authorities to take its recommendations into account when considering what improvements might be needed to their services in this field. Having completed its work, the committee has now been wound up.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

In the 12 months to 31 March 1985 the Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances met 3 times and considered some 36 products put to it by manufacturers. The committee advised that 11 of these products were either toilet preparations or foods and therefore should not be prescribable at National Health Service expense and that 25 products should be prescribable under the NHS but only for certain clinical conditions. We accepted this advice and informed the medical profession accordingly.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Advisory Committee on Dialysis Equipment submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result ofthe advice given.

The Advisory Committee on Dialysis Equipment held one meeting during the twelve months ending 31 March 1985. At that meeting levels of aluminium and fluoride in the water supply for haemodialysis were discussed which resulted in the publication of a Safety Information Bulletin No. 20, SIB(85)2; Water for Haemodialysis: Aluminium and Fluoride Levels. This Bulletin gives recommendations for minimising exposure of patients undergoing haemodialysis to these substances. The safety information bulletin was issued to health authorities throughout the United Kingdom.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Health Services Human Growth Hormone Committee submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

The Health Services Human Growth Hormone Committee meets quarterly and its minutes are circulated within the Department. The committee's functions are executive rather than advisory and its responsibilities are mainly clinical; in 1984 they considered 248 cases for growth hormone therapy. In 1977 it replaced the Medical Research Council's working party on human growth hormone. Health circular HC(77)21 which announced the change and outlined the committee's remit was placed in the Library. The remit remains unaltered.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation met twice. In addition, there was regular contact between our officials and the Chairman and Members of the committee as the need arose. The committee's advice was taken into account on all issues relating to the Government's policy on immunisation.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on how many occasions in the 12 months to 31 March the Joint Committee on the Medical Aspects of Water Quality submitted advice to his Department; and what action was taken by his Department on each occasion as a result of the advice given.

None. This committee and another committee which had advised on the contamination of air and soil were replaced (in 1984) by the Committee on the Medical Aspects of the Contamination of Air, Soil and Water.This committee will, amongst other functions, provide advice on questions referred by the Department of the Environment, directly or on behalf of the water industry, on the medical significance of chemicals and physical agents which may bepresent in drinking water. Any action required as a result of this advice will usually be for that Department or the water industry.

The committee met in November 1984 and February 1985 and is expected to meet four times a year in future. No fresh action has been required as a result of advice given at these meetings other than to seek additional information on questions under review.