HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc1074-5W
Mrs. Anne Campbell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Buteyko method of asthma treatment. [52553]

Ms Blears

[holding answer 7 May 2002]: The Department has not commissioned National Institute of Clinical Excellence to undertake a formal evaluation of the Buteyko method of asthma treatment and the Medical Research Council is not currently funding research into this treatment.

The Department recognises that some people find complementary medicine treatments helpful in relieving the symptoms of certain conditions, particularly chronic conditions for which conventional medicine cannot provide a complete solution. Complementary medicine treatments, may be provided on the national health service if those responsible for commissioning health services on behalf of patients locally (primary care trusts) consider that they are a clinically and cost effective means of meeting an identified health need.

John McDonnell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the cost would be of providing free medication to all asthmatics irrespective of age; [56442]

(2) what plans the Government have to provide free medication for all asthmatics. [56443]

Ms Blears

We estimate that the loss of prescription charge income in England would be over £50 million a year. Additionally, there could be significant additional costs to the drugs bill if people with asthma who currently pay charges sought prescriptions for medicines and other items which they currently purchase.

Our policy is to give priority to helping people who may have difficulty in paying charges, rather than extending the exemption arrangements to people with other medical conditions including asthma.

Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when Ministers from his Department last met representatives from the World Health Organisation to discuss the issue of asthma; and what plan of action was agreed to tackle the increase in asthma levels in(a) children and (b) adults. [59580]

Jacqui Smith

[holding answer 24 May 2002]My right hon. Friend the Minister of State (Mr. Hutton) recently attended the World Health Assembly which took place from 13 to 18 May. This included a ministerial Round Table on general risks to health, however asthma was not a formal topic of debate.

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