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Vaccination

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department plans to take to ensure the NHS implements the recommendations for screening and vaccination programmes (a) the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and (b) the National Screening Committee, as referred to on page 34 of his Department's document High Quality Care for All, Cm. 7432; for what reasons he does not plan to include people's access to screening and immunisation services as a legal right in the NHS Constitution; for what reasons he does not plan the NHS to establish screening programmes as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence; and if he will make a statement. (219368)

The draft NHS Constitution contains a pledge that the national health service will strive always to implement screening and vaccination programmes as recommended by the appropriate national advisory bodies, Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the UK National Screening Committee (NSC). The draft NHS Constitution and the Government’s proposals are open for public consultation until 17 October 2008. The details, including how to feed in views, may be found at www.dh.gov.uk/consultations.

The Department will continue to use a variety of tools to ensure that the NHS implements recommendations from the JCVI and the UK NSC.

When the Department introduces a new immunisation programme following a JCVI recommendation it is normally announced to the NHS through a letter from the Chief Medical Officer. Where appropriate, the Department provides guidance and additional funding to the NHS to implement the programme. In some cases, the requirement to offer a vaccine is imposed by or under legislation. ‘Vital Signs’, a key component of the NHS Operational Framework, prioritises immunisation. Strategic health authorities performance manage primary care trusts against their local plans. Vaccine uptake is monitored across the country to assist in this process.

When the Department introduces a new screening programme, following a UK NSC recommendation, the steps taken to ensure the NHS implements the recommendations vary depending on the individual screening programme. In the past, the Department has supported implementation by establishing UK NSC led national programme teams. The UK NSC will provide advice on implementation.

Clinical guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence are developmental standards for the NHS and the Government expect them to be fully implemented over time.