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Children and Social Work Bill [Lords]
– in the House of Commons at 4:10 pm on 5th December 2016.
The adoption support fund ensures that important therapeutic support can be funded for adopted children, some of whom are coping with difficult trauma, complex and challenging behaviour, and mental health problems. That can result in a high risk of adoption breakdown. The fund already helps thousands of families—I believe it was 3,500 last year—and the Government are increasing the budget to about £23 million this year. That significant investment perhaps underlines the Minister’s deep knowledge of the subject and his understanding of the challenges that parents of adopted children face, which he has gained from his own family’s experiences. I put on record my thanks to the Minister for all that he has done to support families with adopted children. I know that my constituents are enormously grateful for his expertise in this area.
Perhaps we should be unsurprised to hear that the demand for the fund has outstripped the supply of finances. The Minister, with the inevitable fiscal duties on him, had to introduce a cap to the budget in October. Although that was understandable as a normal response to keep control of budgetary pressures, it has inevitably created uncertainties for families such as my constituents, Mr and Mrs Cross, who adopted their son in August 2013. Mr and Mrs Cross are incredible. They have adopted a young child with foetal alcoholspectrum disorder which, as many will know, means their son requires significant support.
Mr and Mrs Cross have taken the necessary measures and are doing a fantastic job. The child’s therapy has been hugely beneficial, leading to real progress, but because it costs in excess of the new £5,000 cap, it is uncertain whether the funding will be available in the near future. The next phase of treatment costs about £10,000 and would require the local authority in Hampshire to match fund, in year, any costs over £5,000. Clause 8 calls for long-term plans for the care of a child to be in place, yet my constituents, who have made an incredible choice to care for a severely disabled child, are now unsure whether his care can be funded. I hope that the Minister, perhaps in his response to the debate, will reflect on how a local authority such as mine in Hampshire might respond, and reassure Mr and Mrs Cross that the support for their child will continue.
Reducing Health Inequality
– in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 24th November 2016.
Fiona Bruce Chair, International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact
The Government must do more to tackle health inequality. For example, in January the chief medical officer published her recommendation that it is wisest for women not to drink during pregnancy. Pregnant women are advised to make that choice, yet there has been wholly inadequate publicity for that recommendation. I speak as the vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. We have heard heartrending evidence of the impact of alcohol on children’s lives, including their physical and mental wellbeing. It is particularly important to note that, according to the evidence that we have heard, women’s bodies tolerate alcohol at different levels, which is why the best advice is to not drink at all during pregnancy. I challenge Health Ministers, particularly in the run-up to Christmas, to get that message out so that pregnant women hear it and can make that choice.
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome:Written question – 48845
Luciana Berger Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool, Wavertree
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many people were diagnosed with (a) foetal alcohol syndrome and (b) foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in each region of England in each year since 2010.
The following tables contain a count of the number of FAEs1 with a primary2 or secondary3 diagnosis of (a) Foetal Alcohol Syndrome4 or (b) Foetal AlcoholSpectrum disorders5 in each region6 in England for the years 2010-11 to 2014-157
Table 1: Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
|Government Office Region||Years|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||9||33||37||59||49|
|East of England||16||13||20||11||21|
|Scotland (area of residence)||0||0||2||1||0|
|England – Not Otherwise Specified||0||1||1||0||0|
|Wales (area of residence)||3||5||2||3||2|
|Northern Ireland (area of residence)||0||2||0||0||0|
Table 2: Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
|Government Office Region||Years|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||8||3||2||8||5|
|East of England||3||0||5||2||3|
|Scotland (area of residence)||0||0||0||0||0|
|England – Not Otherwise Specified||0||0||0||0||0|
|Wales (area of residence)||0||0||0||0||2|
|Northern Ireland (area of residence)||0||0||0||0||0|
Activity in English NHS Hospitals and English NHS commissioned activity in the independent sector
1. Finished admission episodes
A finished admission episode (FAE) is the first period of admitted patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. FAEs are counted against the year or month in which the admission episode finishes. Admissions do not represent the number of patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the period.
2. Primary diagnosis
The primary diagnosis is the first of up to 20 (14 from 2002-03 to 2006-07 and 7 prior to 2002-03) diagnosis fields in the HES data set and provides the main reason why the patient was admitted to hospital.
3. Secondary diagnosis
As well as the primary diagnosis, there are up to 19 (13 from 2002-03 to 2006-07 and 6 prior to 2002-03) secondary diagnosis fields in HES that show other diagnoses relevant to the episode of care.
4. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
Diagnosis 4 code = Q860
5. Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders
Diagnosis 4 code = P043
6. Government Office Region of Residence
Government office region of residence = North West
7. Assessing growth through time (Admitted patient care)
HES figures are available from 1989-90 onwards. Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice. For example, apparent reductions in activity may be due to a number of procedures which may now be undertaken in outpatient settings and so no longer include in admitted patient HES data. Conversely, apparent increases in activity may be due to improved recording of diagnosis or procedure information.
There are many other codes within ICD-10 which classify the defects found in patients with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, however, there is no way of identifying that these conditions are due to prenatal exposure to alcohol. For example, in a child of 8 years old with learning difficulties related to maternal alcohol use, it is not possible to link the learning difficulties with the previous maternal alcohol use. Therefore, it is not possible to identify all Foetal AlcoholSpectrum Disorders using data derived from ICD-10 codes.
– in the House of Commons at 11:42 am on 13th October 2016.
Fiona Bruce Chair, International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact 1:48 pm, 13th October 2016
As an adjunct to the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, who mentioned smoking and obesity advice for mothers during pregnancy, may I, as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on alcohol harm, ask that advice on drinking alcohol during pregnancy is added? The chief medical officer recommended earlier this year that the best advice is simply not to drink alcohol during pregnancy because, as the all-party group has heard, different mothers respond to different levels of alcohol very differently. There has been inadequate publicity regarding that clear recommendation, which I welcome because it clears up decades of confusing advice.
My hon. Friend Fiona Bruce mentioned the progress on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The all-party group, on which she and I serve as officers, produced a report on this recently. We have visited hospitals with the charity that promotes this subject to give clearer, better and more high-profile advice to women about what is acceptable and potentially harmful about the use of alcoholduring pregnancy. Progress has been made, but we need a lot more. I contrast the lack of progress on baby loss with the great progress made on cot deaths. The very high-profile cot death campaign, some decades ago now, had a huge and very quick effect.
Alcohol Consumption Guidelines
– in Westminster Hall at 4:56 pm on 28th June 2016.
Perhaps it would be useful to remind Members how we arrived at this review. It was not Ministers who asked the chief medical officers to do it but Parliament. The previous guidelines came out in 1995, and in 2012 the Science and Technology Committee recommended that they should be reviewed because they had not been for so long. It is fair to say that there are a lot of places around the world where such guidelines have not been looked at for a long time, so the evidence base is not as up to date as it could be. There was a lot of parliamentary interest, especially in the previous Parliament, in guidelines—for example, in the harmonisation of the pregnancy guidelines when we had debates about foetal alcohol syndrome.
At the request of the four UK chief medical officers, three independent groups of experts have met since 2013 to look at both the scientific and the behavioural evidence of the health effects of alcohol. Those groups were made up of international experts in the field of epidemiology, public health, liver disease, behavioural science, science communications and evidence-based alcohol policy. None of those people were members of the temperance movement.
– in the Scottish Parliament on 16th June 2016.
However, the issue comes back to public education. It needs all the effort that we can give as a Government to get the message across that to be responsible parents means recognising that there are no-go areas. A huge proportion of children in the hearings system come from a background of parental addiction. It is estimated that one in 100 babies—possibly more—are born with a condition called foetal alcohol syndrome, which damages their brain and affects them to varying degrees throughout their life. That is another reason why our minimum unit pricing policy is so important, and it was good to hear the First Minister’s response on that during question time today. Of course, the policy is not a magic bullet that will change the culture of drinking overnight, but if it protects even one baby against that condition, it will be worth it.
Stillbirth — [Sir David Amess in the Chair]
– in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 9th June 2016.
George FreemanThe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 2:36 pm, 9th June 2016
When starting pregnancy, not all women will have the same risk of something going wrong and women’s health before and during pregnancy is one of the factors that most influence rates of stillbirth, neonatal death and maternal death. We know that a BMI of over 40 doubles the risk of stillbirth. A quarter of stillbirths are associated with smoking, and alcohol consumption is associated with an estimated 40%. In addition, the report, “Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries in the UK” published in June 2015 showed that the risk for women living in poverty is 57% higher, for babies from black and minority ethnic groups it is 50% higher and for teenage mothers and mothers over 40 it is 39% higher. Those striking statistics show why the Department of Health will continue to work closely with Public Health Englandand voluntary sector organisations to help women to have a healthy pregnancy and families to have the best start in life wherever they are and whoever they are.