HC Deb 29 March 1994 vol 240 cc680-1W
Mr. Frank Cook

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to work with her colleagues in the Department for Education to promote good asthma management for children at school.

Mr. Bowis

I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) on 10 March at column346.

Mr. Frank Cook

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the Government's strategy for research into asthma; where major funding is being allocated; and how the allocation of resources is decided.

Mr. Sackville

The main agency through which the Government support biomedical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council, which receives its grant in aid from the office of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In 1992–93 the MRC spent £759,000 on research into asthma and a further £757,000 on research which may be relevant to the condition. The Medical Research Council takes account of the Department of Health's priorities for research when allocating resources.

The Department of Health is a founder member of the respiratory research liaison committee, which includes the major organisations with a research interest in respiratory diseases, including asthma. In addition, the national health service research and development strategy determines research priorities on a range of difficult problems of direct relevance to the NHS and work is planned to establish detailed priorities in the field of respiratory diseases across all age groups.

Mr. Sims

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what response she intends to make to the findings of a recent study showing that 13.1 per cent. of children suffer from doctor-diagnosed asthma with 2.2 per cent. experiencing more than 12 asthma attacks in the previous year; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Sackville

The Department is concerned about the incidence of asthma in children. At our request the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants has set up an expert sub-group to review the evidence linking asthma to air pollution.

Ms Lynne

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will accept the finding of the recent Audit Commission report, "A Prescription for Improvement", on under-prescribing for asthmatic patients; and what steps she is planning to take to ensure asthmatic patients receive the medications they need.

Dr. Mawhinney

It is the responsibility of general practitioners to decide the clinical needs of their patients. Since the introduction of chronic disease management programmes for asthma and diabetes in July of last year about 90 per cent. of general practitioners are running programmes for asthmatic patients. The British Thoracic Society's guidelines for the management of asthma are regularly drawn to the attention of all GPs and prescribing of preventtive medicine for asthma has increased sixfold over the last 10 years. Low levels of asthma prophylaxis are brought to the attention of GPs by family health services authority prescribing advisers.

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