HC Deb 12 June 1984 vol 61 cc746-7
5. Mr. Coombs

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the Government's response to the Canterbury report on the prevention of coronary heart disease.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. John Patten)

We welcome this report wholeheartedly. It is an important source of advice on ways of reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, which is now a major cause of death in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Coombs

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree with the principle of funding the prevention of heart disease as a way of reducing the cost to the nation of funding the cure of heart disease when it becomes established in the middle-aged and the elderly? When does he expect to be able to publish the COMAC report on the medical aspects of dietary regimes?

Mr. Patten

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his supplementary question. The Government are convinced that prevention, above all else, is of the greatest importance. We shall publish the report as soon as possible after its receipt from the chief medical officer's advisory committee, on which we depend for advice. I prefer to rely on that source of professional advice rather than on the absurd body which The Times tells me has been set up by the Greater London council today, called "The London Food Commission", which is meant to give us advice on these important matters. This is one more example of why the GLC should be shut down as soon as possible.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Minister aware that the Health Education Council has no chance of competing with gigantic food industries in its attempt to explain the dangers of some foods which can cause cancer, strokes, or heart disease? As some foods are dangerous and cause heart disease, will the hon. Gentleman quadruple, at least, the council's budget, to assist it in its attempt to fight heart disease?

Mr. Patten

The council does valuable work, in co-operation, for example, with the British Nutrition Foundation, on these important issues. We keep the council's budget under constant review and we must await the independent medical advice to which I have referred before we decide what action is appropriate.

Mr. Sims

Will my hon. Friend reconsider the amount that is being spent on preventing illness and disease, as distinct from treating it, to ascertain whether we have achieved the right balance? Will he pay special attention to the recommendation in the Canterbury report that there should be far more energetic Government support for the prevention and control of smoking, which is one of the largest causes of coronary disease?

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend is undoubtedly aware of the recent important report of the Royal College of Physicians, which attributes 20 per cent. of the deaths from heart disease to smoking.

Mr. Lofthouse

What arrangement has the Secretary of State made for miners who are single, who are suffering from coronary heart disease or other diseases and need constant medication? When they receive their prescriptions from their doctors, there is often no one available to take the prescription to a chemist? What arrangements have been made to deal with these single miners?

Mr. Patten

Every case is dealt with, and no one in need of medication by prescription will be denied it.