Health: Tuberculosis

House of Lords written question – answered on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Baroness Masham of Ilton Baroness Masham of Ilton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in the past year in relation to tuberculosis in humans in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Lord Darzi of Denham Lord Darzi of Denham Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

In June 2007, the department published the Tuberculosis (TB) Toolkit (Tuberculosis prevention and treatment: a toolkit for planning, commissioning and delivering high-quality services in England) to help the National Health Service to implement the key elements of the TB action plan through effective commissioning and delivery of TB services. A copy of the toolkit has already been placed in the Library. The department has supported the publication with a series of regional workshops for commissioners, public health and clinical staff. The toolkit provides models of good practice for laboratory services and surveillance as well as service delivery, and recommends that TB clinicians always follow National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on TB when treating patients.

In 2007, the department initiated the Find and Treat project to actively look for cases of TB among the homeless and other vulnerable groups in London, and to help provide supervised medication and support to patients to improve adherence to treatment. Currently, the Find and Treat team is helping over 300 people with TB who have challenging lifestyles to complete their treatment.

In 2008, the department commissioned TB Alert to develop TB awareness raising messages for people at risk of TB to increase referrals for TB testing and effective treatment as well as with primary care workers to increase awareness of TB. This will include the importance of early diagnosis and treatment completion. The awareness raising programme will roll out later this year.

The department is also funding the Health Protection Agency to update its enhanced tuberculosis surveillance system and to develop an electronic tool to support the investigation of contacts of TB patients.

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