§ Mrs. Ballard
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to ensure that counselling is available for those who contracted hepatitis C, other than by means of blood transfusions. 
§ Ms Jowell
As my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health said in his reply of 19 June 1997, column291, patients who may be infected with hepatitis C should be given sufficient information to enable them to make an informed decision about the implications for them of a positive test before being tested. Generally we would expect that the health care professionals dealing with the patient should be able to provide the advice and support that the patient needs. A few may require more specialist counselling and support. Patients who have a positive test should, if they wish, be referred to a specialist for further advice on the management of their disease, including more specialised counselling. It is for those commissioning services to ensure that suitably trained staff are available to advise such patients irrespective of how they were infected.