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Health Tracker: Written questions By Paris Gourtsoyannis 07.09.11: Vaccinations

S4W-2251 Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will

publish the full risk assessment which led NHS Scotland to decide not to run a catch-up campaign to immunise teenagers who are unprotected from the risk of measles, in light of the Health Protection Agency in England deciding to run such a campaign. Michael Matheson: The English MMR catch-up campaign, which

was launched in 2008, was targeted at all young people aged three years and seven months to under 18, and those over 18 going to higher/ further education. The campaign was phased, with the youngest age groups being the first priority. The catch-up was driven in part by the low levels of vaccine uptake across England, but particularly the very low levels of uptake of MMR vaccine in London. In 2008-09 uptake of MMR at 24 months in London was as low as 76.3 per cent. By comparison, uptake of vaccine in Scotland has never fallen as low. Indeed, although there has been an increase in MMR uptake in England, uptake remains lower than in Scotland, where quarterly uptake at 24 months is consistently around the 93 per cent. By comparison, in 2009-10 uptake in England at the same point was 88.2 per cent. It is also unclear how much of this improvement in England was down to the catch-up itself as, at the same time as the catch-up data improvement activity was taking place, with previously given doses being updated onto child health systems. In Scotland, following a 2005 risk assessment

carried out by Health Protection Scotland (HPS), the agreed priority was to focus MMR immunisation efforts on pre-school children to

08.09.11: FMQs

The Scottish Government has accepted recommendations to end the lifetime ban on gay men giving blood, First Minister Alex Salmond told the chamber. In response to a question from Scottish Liberal

Democrat Leader Willie Rennie, Salmond said the Government agreed with the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs’ recommendation that the ban should be rescinded. Rennie said that while the recommendations were

not the full equality that many have campaigned for – pointing out that similar bans have already been relaxed in Australia, South Africa, Japan and Sweden – he said the sooner the change is adopted, the more lives can be saved. Salmond added: “The expert committee

recommended some safeguards for public safety. I do not think that any responsible government would not accept those recommendations as well. In the Government’s response to the recommendations, it can be seen that we take the matter seriously and welcome the progress that is being made.”

56 19 September 2011

ensure that a high proportion of children were immunised with a first dose of MMR (MMR1) by the age of two years. This activity was augmented with action to immunise as many children as possible who had not taken up their first routine dose with MMR1 before the age of six, and by a HEAT target of 95 per cent uptake of at least one dose of MMR by age five (i.e. before starting school). In 2008, when the Department of Health

launched its catch-up campaign, the uptake of MMR1 was very good in Scotland (94.9 per cent of children had received MMR1 by the age of five, and 89.2 per cent had received both doses) and there was no evidence of measles circulating in the Scottish population. The risk assessment was not repeated at that time, as the findings from the previous work in 2005 were still considered valid. In addition, action had been taken in 2004 in response to the emergence of mumps in teenagers and young adults to bolster immunisation levels in those aged 13 to 25, by asking GPs to opportunistically offer MMR to all those in this age range. Earlier this year, it became clear that there was

significant transmission of measles in Western Europe among young adults. As a result, a further assessment of the risk of measles in this group was undertaken by HPS. The Minister for Public Health has considered this assessment and has discussed it with HPS. HPS are currently exploring options for the

publication of this risk assessment. Meantime the risk assessment (and its companion paper on the options for management of measles susceptibility in Scotland), will be placed into SPICE, once they have been finalised through the HPS document approval process. This is expected to be completed by the end of September.

Events Diary

20th September Health and Sport Committee Committee Room 1, 9am

20th September Muscular Dystrophy campaign reception Committee Room 1, 6pm

21st September Health Inequalities Alliance reception Committee Room 2, 6pm

22nd September Proposed Tobacco Control Cross-Party Group Room TG.20/21, 12.45pm

27th September Canadian Research on Alcohol Pricing Measures event Committee Room 1, 5.45pm


06.09.11: Health and Sport Committee

Inquiry into the regulation of care for older people Lord Stewart

Sutherland – who chaired the 1997 Royal Commission on Long-Term Care of Older People – told MSPs that the challenge of caring for an ageing population is as “equally big” as that posed by global warming. “A lot has been achieved here. Yes, there has been

money involved. But actually, you in Scotland, and you as a Parliament and an Executive, now have ten years experience of trying to deal with an issue that south of the border is hardly defined,” Lord Sutherland said. “That doesn’t meant to say Scotland doesn’t have

problems, and indeed there are real problems ahead. We all know that very well. But actually, it is still the case that local authorities talk to the Executive up here, whereas at one point a number of months ago, down south they were communicating through the columns of the Times newspaper. That is no way for a discussion about the future of such a big important issue to take place.” Lord Sutherland added that the Dilnot Commission

on Funding of Care and Support, which reported in July of this year, had “chased up the same tracks” as the establishment of free personal care in Scotland. “I think you have a lot of experience. It is happening informally in some places very well and there are

tentative steps in other places… There is a lot that could be put into practice as pilot studies. “I do believe that the integration of these two

services is, in the medium and certainly the long term, one of the essentials to ensure the quality of care and the sustainability.” Asked by committee member SNP MSP Jim Eadie

whether “a major structural overhaul” was needed before effective integration of health and social care services could take place, Lord Sutherland acknowledged that “any change in structure will be resisted.” However, he added: “I would encourage government

to look at different forms of piloting and see where it works and where it doesn’t. What works in one area might not work in another. “There is not a single solution. But I think we’ve got

to try it out because otherwise all that money is not being spent sensibly.” Lord Sutherland proposed the idea that Audit

Scotland could share staff time and expertise, allowing SCSWIS to evaluate the financial sustainability of private care providers following the collapse of English care home operator Southern Cross.

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