HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc146-7W
Ms Walley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what further plans he has to help sufferers of arthritis. [55273]

Ms Blears

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued its guidance on 22 March 2002 which recommended the use of etanercept for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and etanercept and infliximab for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

On 5 December 2001, the Government announced that they would meet their manifesto commitment to ensure that patients receive drugs and treatments recommended by NICE on the national health service if deemed appropriate by their clinicians. Directions have been issued obliging health authorities and primary care trusts to provide appropriate funding for recommended treatments.

People with arthritis will benefit from the emerging expert patients programme which will see the NHS provide training in self-management skills for people with long term chronic conditions. The first pilot phase has recently begun in selected primary care trust sites, with activity to take place both on a generic and a disease-specific basis. Also, the Medical Research Council and the Department's policy research programme is funding major research projects into arthritis.