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Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 8 March 2011

We expect NHS organisations and their partners to ensure early detection, treatment completion and co-ordinated action to prevent and control TB. The Department and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence have published supporting guidance. We are also continuing to support the charity TB Alert to raise public and professional awareness of TB.

I think the House should be concerned that in an excellent presentation back in September, it was explained that only 61% of people in London complete treatment for tuberculosis, that the incidence of tuberculosis in the UK is behind only the levels in Spain and Portugal, and that there were over 400,000 cases in the European Union in 2009. The London report that came out said that we had to invest in the service to provide a TB board for London and probably spread that to other big cities, where most of the people who have TB were not born in the UK.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The World Health Organisation threshold for high instance is defined as 40 cases per 100,000. Of the 19 relevant primary care trusts in this country, 16 are in London. There is no doubt that this is a complex problem. In the past two decades, the increase in instances has come from people who were not born in this country. We are doing a number of things. The Home Office is reviewing the effectiveness of screening, and is running a pilot of pre-entry TB screening in areas of countries where there is a high instance. The problem is that it is not always detectable when people enter this country.

Tuberculosis is a key health issue for those in the London borough of Hounslow. What more does my hon. Friend feel we can do to build public awareness and to ensure early diagnosis?

My hon. Friend is right. NHS London will continue to fund the TB find-and-treat outreach programme for the homeless and other vulnerable groups, which includes the use of mobile X-ray units. The Department will continue to provide money to support TB Alert, which builds capacity in the voluntary sector and raises awareness.