HC Deb 08 June 1993 vol 226 cc129-30
3. Mrs. Angela Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made immunising against childhood diseases in the Trent region.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Tom Sackville)

The childhood immunisation programme has been an enormous success. At February 1993, Trent region had uptake rates of 94 per cent. for diphtheria, tetanus and polio immunisation, 91 per cent. for whooping cough and 93 per cent. for measles, mumps and rubella.

Mrs. Knight

Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating all the general practitioners in Trent region on that very successful programme? Has not the GP contract also played a part in that success? However, is my hon. Friend aware of the somewhat erratic supply earlier this year of the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine to the Southern Derbyshire health authority, which covers my constituency of Erewash? Can he assure me that there will be no further interruption in the supply of that very important vaccine?

Mr. Sackville

My hon. Friend will be aware that two vaccines were withdrawn last year, which caused difficulties, particularly in her area. I understand that those difficulties have now been sorted out. I should like to join her in congratulating the local GPs who responded magnificently. Since the Hib vaccine was introduced last year, haemophilus influenza has reduced by 70 per cent. and whooping cough is rarely seen in the surgery. Since 1989, no child has died as a result of acute measles-related diseases.

Mr. Ashton

Is it any wonder that there is a shortage of vaccine when Trent regional health authority can spend £200,000 with a public relations firm to cover its tracks on the Beverley Allitt case? Why has that taxpayers' and health service money been spent when there will be an inquiry in private? Did the Secretary of State for Health agree to spending that £200,000? If so, why has she accepted that there will be a private inquiry?

Mr. Sackville

That is a decision for the region. The important thing is to get the facts with the minimum of disruption to the professionals involved and to the institution, and the qualifications of Sir Cecil Clothier are impeccable for that task.