HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 cc137-8W
Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action the Government are taking to promote the benefits of breastfeeding in the UK; how many and what percentage of women in the UK breastfed their child in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [53521]

Area of measurement Current status Fraud measured Completion date
Pharmaceutical patient fraud Two full measurement exercises completed 1998–99: £117 million 1999–2000: £69 million A reduction of 41 per cent. December 2000
Pharmaceutical contractor fraud First full measurement exercise nearing completion Data currently with statisticians for analysis

Yvette Cooper

The Government are fully committed to the promotion of breastfeeding, which is accepted as the best form of nutrition for infants. Action includes the development and dissemination of the evidence base on good practice, embedding messages into national health service practice and other policies, and ensuring effective monitoring of infant feeding practices.

A total of 79 'best breastfeeding practice' projects have been funded across all regions. The aim is to increase the rates of breastfeeding, both initiation and duration. This is a goal shared by all sure start initiatives and several health action zone programmes. Many of the 'best breastfeeding practice' projects have now obtained mainstream funding from sure start initiatives.

Other related Department activities include support for an annual national breastfeeding awareness week, four main voluntary organisations involved in the promotion of breastfeeding, research into breastfeeding through quinquennial infant feeding surveys, and maintaining close links with United Nations Children's Fund's baby friendly initiative. The forthcoming national service framework for children will cover maternity services and we are considering how best to include breastfeeding within this framework.

The results of the infant feeding survey 2000 showed an increase in the breastfeeding rates between 1995 and 2000: 71 per cent. of the mothers in England and Wales breastfed their infants as compared to 68 per cent. in 1995. In social class V there has been a significant increase in the incidence of breastfeeding from 50 per cent. in 1995 to 59 per cent. in 2000.