Health Questions: 26th February 2013

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con)
T2. We used to believe that tuberculosis was beaten in this country, but the number of instances of it is increasing, and there were more than 9,000 new cases last year. Does that not suggest, particularly when the incidence of drug-resistant TB is a concern, that a comprehensive public health strategy is needed to tackle the disease? What steps is the Department taking to lead that strategy? [144362]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anna Soubry)
I am grateful for that question, because my right hon. Friend has identified the fact that TB is a growing problem. We are exploring the effectiveness of an approach across health sectors for a national strategy on TB, while ensuring that we recognise the local variances. We need to improve in that area.




Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD)
T4. Two years ago, the Prime Minister welcomed the installation of CyberKnife, the latest in cancer radio surgery equipment at the world-leading Royal Marsden cancer centre, as an example of how the NHS has progressed. Since then, the Royal Marsden has invited successive Health Ministers to visit the cancer centre but no one has accepted the invitation, and I am aware that Ministers have been to see other cancer treatment systems. Will the Secretary of State follow the Prime Minister’s lead and visit the Royal Marsden to see for himself the great progress that has been made there? [144364]

Anna Soubry
I understand that the Secretary of State has been to the Royal Marsden, but I am more than happy to accept the invitation and look forward to going along and seeing it for myself.




Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan) (Con)
T7. Kevin Davies, a constituent from Cowbridge, visited my surgery yesterday. He is a prostate cancer patient and robotic surgery was deemed to be the most appropriate form of care. Unfortunately, robotic surgery for prostate cancer is not available in Wales and he was forced to travel to Bristol and pay £15,000 for the treatment. Will my hon. Friend agree to work with the Welsh NHS either to come up with a formal agreement whereby facilities are available to Welsh NHS patients or to press it to invest in its own facilities? [144367]
Anna Soubry
My hon. Friend makes a good point: in England, the NHS is benefiting from not suffering a cut in funding such as that imposed by the Labour Administration in Wales.


Dr Thérèse Coffey (Suffolk Coastal) (Con)
T8. Patients in Suffolk are very worried about the performance of the ambulance service. In the past two months, less than 60% of ambulances have hit the target for reaching emergency cases. The strategic health authority and others, including all the MPs in the region, are not happy about that. Will the Government intervene, too? [144368]

Anna Soubry
With two Ministers in the Department from the east of England, I can assure my hon. Friend that all of us are aware of the concerns that she and other Members have about their ambulance trust and, if I may say so as an east midlands MP, about the East Midlands ambulance trust. I know that Earl Howe, who has responsibility overall, has offered a meeting with Members from the east of England, and I am sure that that meeting will produce the sort of benefits that everyone hopes for.




Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab)
Recent comprehensive research by the international study of asthma and allergies in childhood found strong evidence of a link between fast food and asthma, but when I asked the Minister which public health responsibility deal partners he had discussed that with, he said that evaluating science was not within their remit. Does he agree that if the fast food companies have the kudos of being classed as public health responsibility deal partners, they ought to look into such research and actually take some responsibility?

Anna Soubry
Those are good points well made, if I may say so. I am more than happy to discuss that further with the hon. Lady, because I take the firm view ​that everyone involved in making, manufacturing, supplying and selling food has a responsibility to make sure that all of us have longer, healthier, happier lives. I am all for ratcheting up the responsibility deal.