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Preventative Health Care

Volume 517: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2010

In addition to what I said in reply to Question 3, I can tell my hon. Friend that we will shortly be publishing a public health White Paper, which for the first time will not only demonstrate a commitment across Government to improving public health and reducing health inequalities, but introduce a strategy and implementation programme to achieve precisely that.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is responsible for 30,000 deaths a year, and it is the second largest cause of emergency hospital admissions in the UK. In response to the consultations that have been received from, among others, groups in my constituency, will the Secretary of State please tell me when the Government plan to publish the clinical strategy on COPD?

We need to continue our work with the British Lung Foundation, because that has been extremely helpful. We are in the process—through the consultation on the White Paper and other such consultations—of putting in place an outcomes framework, which will enable us to see how outcomes can be achieved for people with respiratory diseases. In the meantime, I hope that we will push forward with the commissioning guidelines, clinical guidelines and quality standards that will help to support some of the COPD initiatives that I have seen, including a successful community COPD service in Somerset.

The Secretary of State will be aware that 6,000 women a year die from ovarian cancer. Will he welcome the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines that were published this year, and, in so doing, will he tell us why he has decided to neuter NICE? The independent assessment that it provides was established in 1999 to ensure that, where we have a finite pool of resources, money is spent properly. Are not the pharmaceutical companies now rubbing their hands in glee?

The right hon. Gentleman has it completely wrong. We are not neutralising NICE. On the contrary, we will focus NICE on what its real job always was and should be, which is to provide independent advice to the NHS about the relative clinical and cost-effectiveness of treatments so as to achieve the best outcomes. The point that he may be misunderstanding is that by 2014 we intend to ensure that we are no longer denying access to the new medicines that patients need, because we will have a new and more effective value-based pricing system of reimbursement to pharmaceutical companies.