HC Deb 03 December 2003 vol 415 cc495-6
6. Lady Hermon (North Down) (UUP)

What steps he is taking to increase the availability of anti-TNF drug treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in Northern Ireland. [141219]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Angela Smith)

Extra recurrent funding has been provided, which has started the first phase of a three-phase project with a view to extending those therapies to 60 more arthritis sufferers by the end of the year. However, the decision on the appropriate therapy for an individual patient is a matter for the clinician concerned, in consultation with the patient.

Lady Hermon

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, and I welcome it, but will she kindly clarify whether the Government have any plans to compensate rheumatoid arthritis sufferers in Northern Ireland for the Government's failure to extend the appropriate National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines to Northern Ireland at the same time as they are extended to England and Wales?

Angela Smith

It is important to ensure that the NICE guidelines apply to Northern Ireland. We are actively considering that and will make moves to do it as soon as is practical.