Lord Kennedy of Southwark Written Questions

21 Questions to Department of Health and Social Care tabled by Lord Kennedy of Southwark


Date Title Questioner
1 Sep 2020, 4:51 p.m. Pharmacy: Industrial Health and Safety Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of compliance by community pharmacies with health and safety rules and regulations, in particular since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

Standards to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public are set by the General Pharmaceutical Council. In addition, pharmacy businesses, like all others, are subject to health and safety legislation that aims to protect the health, safety and welfare of staff and the public. During the COVID-19 pandemic, community pharmacies would need to comply with the guidelines published by Public Health England for the relevant business and healthcare setting.

10 Aug 2020, 11:09 a.m. Coronavirus: Genetics Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that a nomenclature system for the genetic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 is in place.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

Public Health England is not the body that defines the nomenclature system for the genetic diversity of viruses. This is undertaken by the international scientific community.

6 Aug 2020, 12:26 p.m. Coronavirus: Disease Control Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) plans, and (2) preparations, they are making for any second wave of COVID-19.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The Government has now developed testing capacity to around 300,000 tests per day across in preparation for any second wave. We will constantly monitor demand, including anticipating winter pressures, and scale up the contact tracing workforce if needed.

We are also planning for the next phase of testing: ensuring our testing is as effective as possible in containing the virus, and building resilience for the long-term, especially ahead of winter. We plan further increases through the summer and into the autumn through a combination of improvements to existing labs and new partnerships. Increasing our testing capacity will further support the NHS Test and Trace system by allowing widespread testing of those suspected to be infected with COVID-19 and their contacts and enable the deployment of additional testing capacity to respond to local outbreaks.

6 Jul 2020, 12:19 p.m. Surgery: Coronavirus Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reschedule any NHS operations postponed in England following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

Whilst routine hospital treatments were suspended to provide capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, we are now working closely with the National Health Service and other partners to restart these in a safe way. Guidance has already been issued on this, and approaches are being tailored at local level according to local capacity and local demand, with the most urgent services being restarted first. Guidance also outlines that contracted independent sector hospital and diagnostic capacity should also be used in the restarting of routine elective procedures.

24 Jun 2020, 11:34 a.m. Coronavirus: Ethnic Groups Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that BAME people are adequately represented in COVID-19 clinical trials.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The Department, through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), is working in partnership with the Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic Health in Leicester to ensure that black, Asian and minority ethnic communities have the information they need to take part and stay informed about COVID-19 research. The NIHR also requires a limited amount of demographic data on participants in all prioritized urgent COVID-19 studies to be collected to ensure recruitment is representative of the population. It is also actively supporting researchers to tackle the barriers that might stop some communities participating.

22 Jun 2020, 11:59 a.m. Coronavirus: Disease control Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to establish a permanent body to (1) seek to avert future pandemics, and (2) ensure affordable, widespread availability of vaccines and therapies to treat COVID-19 as they become available.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The United Kingdom believes that the World Health Organization (WHO) has an important role to play in leading the health response to COVID-19 and in longer term leadership in global health including preparedness. We also want to see WHO continue to learn lessons on how to improve its response to global health emergencies and as such would expect a full review of all elements of their response once they are out of response mode, as has occurred after previous Public Health Emergencies of International Concern. The UK intends to engage constructively with a future review, including working with other governments.

Since 2017, we have, through the Department’s Global Health Security Programme, used our public health expertise to provide technical support to countries. This technical support and knowledge sharing helps build resilient public health care systems to prevent, detect and respond to disease and to better manage future public health emergencies including pandemics.

The UK supports strong mechanisms to promote equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. At the Global Vaccine Summit on 4 June 2020, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, launched a new Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for COVID-19 vaccines aimed at incentivising vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines, and to ensure access for developing countries with a primary focus on subsidising vaccines for the poorest countries. The UK committed £48 million to the AMC at the Summit.

In addition, the UK supported AstraZeneca’s announcement at the Summit of a $750 million agreement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi to support the manufacturing, procurement and distribution of 300 million vaccine doses globally this year, including for the world’s poorest countries. AstraZeneca also announced a deal with the Serum Institute of India to manufacture a further 1 billion doses for distribution to developing countries.

22 Jun 2020, 11:50 a.m. Coronavirus: Radiation Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of low dose radiation in the treatment of COVID-19.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

Chest X-rays or chest computed tomography scans are frequently performed for radiological lung assessments during which patients may be exposed to low doses of ionising radiation. Public Health England has not undertaken any specific assessment of the value of this diagnostic approach in the management of COVID-19. Medical exposure to ionising radiation is justified by the clinical team providing care on the basis that the benefit outweighs any potential risks to health.

There have been suggestions in the scientific literature that low dose radiation exposure of the lungs may be an effective treatment for COVID-19 related pneumonia, but this has yet to be proven.

22 Jun 2020, 11:50 a.m. Coronavirus: Disease Control Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

Her Majesty's Government how many antibodies have been identified which have had a neutralising effect on the COVID-19 virus.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

Characterisation of neutralising antibodies is still in its infancy. The role of neutralising antibodies in providing treatment or as a marker for protection against reinfection is not yet fully understood. Scientists at Public Health England and elsewhere are working in this area, and conclusions will be reported in scientific journals as new evidence emerges.

15 Jun 2020, 1:49 p.m. Accident and Emergency Departments: Admissions Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bethell on 1 June (HL4699), in what format the information on the number of people reporting to accident and emergency departments with serious non-COVID-19 related conditions is held.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

All systems relating to the attendance of patients at accident and emergency (A&E) commence at the point the patient is booked in. Administrative information is held in the Secondary Uses Service (SUS) and Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) datasets which includes details of any investigation, diagnosis made, and treatment carried out during the A&E attendance.

Information about the data collected during an attendance at A&E can be found in the NHS Data Model and Dictionary. Once this data is processed it is used to create the HES A&E dataset. Details of the fields and content of this asset can be found in the HES A&E data Dictionary.

The Monthly A&E Attendances and Emergency Admissions collection also collects the total number of attendances in the calendar month for all A&E types, including minor injury units and walk-in centres, and of these, the number discharged, admitted or transferred within four hours of arrival.

8 Jun 2020, 5:14 p.m. Hospitals: Admissions Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide finer resolution data on hospital admission statistics in England to aid understanding of optimal (1) admission, (2) treatment, and (3) resource allocation, strategies.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

Data on Hospital Episodes Statistics is published online by NHS Digital and the latest available data is for 2018/19. Annual data for 2019/20 is due to be published in October 2020.

1 Jun 2020, 11:48 a.m. Accident and Emergency Departments: Admissions Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of people who are not reporting to accident and emergency departments with serious non-COVID-19 related conditions including (1) heart attacks, and (2) strokes; and what plans they have to encourage those with such conditions to continue to use accident and emergency services.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The information is not held in the format requested.

28 May 2020, 12:53 p.m. Coronavirus: Drugs Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure the preservation of sufficient stocks of drugs that may be promising for use (1) to treat COVID-19 patients, or (2) in COVID-19 clinical trials, in addition to the illnesses they were originally developed for.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

As part of our concerted national efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing everything we can to ensure patients continue to access safe and effective medicines, including those used in clinical trials. The Department is working closely with the pharmaceutical industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines they need, and precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages.

We are implementing a joined-up and streamlined process across research, manufacturing and distribution that will rapidly test potential treatments for COVID-19 and prepare to increase supplies if trials show positive indications. In order to support clinical trials, there are centrally procured and managed supplies of a number of medicines.

28 May 2020, 12:53 p.m. Coronavirus: Medical Treatments Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to streamline (1) legislative, or (2) regulatory, hurdles in the approvals process for treatments for COVID-19; and what safeguards will be built into any proposed changes to this process.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is providing expedited scientific advice, and rapid reviews of clinical trials applications to support manufacturers and researchers on potential treatments for COVID-19.

The MHRA is also working closely with the Department and other healthcare partners and stakeholders to rapidly identify where flexibilities in the regulation of medicines and medical devices may be possible. This is with a view to supporting the healthcare products supply chain and wider response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United Kingdom. These flexibilities are being offered to provide flexibility in exceptional circumstances. The flexibilities are temporary and will be kept under review, except where regulatory extensions have been stated.

28 May 2020, 12:26 p.m. Ventilators Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current ventilator capacity in the NHS in England; and what is the expected ventilator capacity on (1) 1 June, (2) 1 July, (3) 1 August, and (4) 1 September.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in March there were more than 8,000 mechanical ventilators in hospitals across the United Kingdom. As of 19 May, we now have around 13,000 mechanical ventilators available to the National Health Service. Over 1,800 of these have been provided by new suppliers responding to the Prime Minister’s ventilator challenge and almost 1,600 by established suppliers (with another almost 1,200 available from the private healthcare sector). In addition, there are also almost 8,000 non-invasive ventilators available to the NHS across the UK which were not available before mid-March.

These figures will continue to rise as we procure further equipment and more products from the Prime Minister’s ventilator challenge become available. Our expectation is that we will secure several thousands more in the coming weeks.

13 May 2020, 12:27 p.m. Coronavirus: Disease Control Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review data from the COVID-19 spread on the Diamond Princess cruise ship to inform decisions in regard to ending the lockdown.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The Government’s approach to the next phase of the pandemic will be guided by the scientific advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). It is SAGE’s role to ensure that timely and coordinated scientific advice is made available to support Government decisions.

28 Apr 2020, 5:19 p.m. Coronavirus: Clinical Trials Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the UK is participating in the World Health Organisation’s Solidarity Trial.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The United Kingdom is not currently participating in the Solidarity Trial, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, as the same compounds are already being tested in existing UK trials. Lopinavir/ritonavir is being trialled in the RECOVERY and REMAP-CAP trials; interferon beta-1a is being trialled in REMAP-CAP; and hydroxychloroquine is being trialled in the RECOVERY, REMAP-CAP and PRINCIPLE clinical trials. The UK trials have been designed to be compatible with the Solidarity Trial so that UK data can be shared with the WHO platform.

28 Apr 2020, 5 p.m. Coronavirus: Clinical Trials Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many COVID-19 vaccine trials are underway presently in the UK.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The Government is currently funding two United Kingdom vaccine candidates; one at the University of Oxford led by Professor Sarah Gilbert and one at Imperial College London led by Professor Robin Shattock.

Imperial’s vaccine candidate is in pre-clinical testing and the University of Oxford started Phase 1 (human safety) trials on Thursday 23 April. Oxford have recruited healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55 to take part in these trials.

14 Apr 2020, 4:45 p.m. Coronavirus: Clinical Trials Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many patients in the UK are taking part in clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

Answer (Lord Bethell)

The Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) reports that as of 27 March 2020, 57 patients have been recruited to a clinical trial of treatments for patients with COVID-19 via the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

27 Nov 2017, 12:46 p.m. Health Services: Immigrants Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the distribution of funding received through the Immigration Health Surcharge; and whether the distribution of that funding is linked to specific migration-related impacts for each NHS authority in England.

Answer (Lord O'Shaughnessy)

The Department does not collect this information centrally. NHS England advises that funding allocation formulae include no specific assessment of migration-related impacts, although they do take account of the overall size of the local population.

27 Nov 2017, 12:19 p.m. Health Services: Immigrants Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the cost impact of migration on each NHS authority in England, in each of the last five years.

Answer (Lord O'Shaughnessy)

The Department does not hold this information.

However, an independent analysis report commissioned by the Department to better understand the use and cost of treating overseas visitors and migrants was published on 22 October 2013. This report shows that the cost of treating all visitors and migrants is estimated to be around £2 billion per year. This includes some groups who were entitled to free National Health Service treatment either by being ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, or exempt from charges under Regulations. However, of the £2 billion it is estimated that around £500 million is recoverable under the current charging regulations and the current application of the regulations.

31 Jul 2017, 2:27 p.m. Microplastics: Food Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk to humans of microbeads and other plastics entering the human food chain.

Answer (Lord O'Shaughnessy)

On the basis of current information, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) considers it is unlikely that the presence of the low levels of microplastic particles that have been reported to occur in certain types of seafood would cause harm to consumers. The FSA will continue to monitor and assess emerging information concerning microplastics in seafood.