§ Mr. Tom Clarke
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has on the cost to the National Health Service of health problems due to heart disease; and whether he will take the initiative to develop policy on the prevention of the disease.
§ Mr. Mellor
The cost to the National Health Service in this country of the treatment of coronary heart disease is estimated to be over £500 million a year.
It was the Government's concern about the high incidence of disease and premature death caused by coronary heart disease that led to the launch in April 1987 of the "Look After Your Heart" campaign, promoted jointly by the Department of Health and the Health Education Authority. This campaign has the long-term objective of contributing to a substantial reduction in the incidence of coronary heart disease in England by the year 2000. The campaign, which adopts a multi-faced approach involving mass media publicity and community and workplace strategies, is, we believe, proving highly successful in raising awareness of risk factors and stimulating widespread activity at national and local level aimed at encouraging and supporting the adoption of healthier lifestyles on smoking, alcohol, nutrition and exercise.
In addition, the Standing Medical Advisory Committee has been asked to look at the cost-effectiveness of cholesterol screening. The primary care White Paper has emphasised the enhanced role of general practitioners in health promotion and prevention. The reports to be produced by the new local and regional directors of public health will provide each district and region with an epidemiological overview of the health of the local population, from which districts will be better able to identify the main health problems (including coronary heart disease) which their policies and programmes need to address.