§ Mr. Montgomery
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has reached any conclusions on the recommendation made in the report of his Department's working group on back pain; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Dr. Vaughan
The working group urged in its report that research into530W the causes, prevention and treatment of back pain should command a high priority, and also made proposals on specific questions to which such research might be directed. As was stated by my hon. Friend in his reply to the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk), on 27 June 1979—[Vol. 969, c. 204–5]—research in this field is already given high priority by the Department. I am glad to reaffirm this, and I also welcome the part which is played by the Medical Research Council in encouraging and supporting research into the causes and treatment of back pain.
The Department and the Medical Research Council, as appropriate, will give sympathetic consideration to supporting any soundly based research projects, including studies of methods of prevention and comparative trials of medical and other treatments. I am satisfied that adequate financial resources continue to be available for this purpose.
The working group proposed that research effort should be concentrated in a limited number of centres. I recognise the advantages of such concentration and the Department will encourage the development of special back pain research centres, based on regional clinics or centres of excellence, as opportunities and the means to exploit them present themselves.
As regards the specific studies of existing provision which were proposed by the working group, I do not consider that the value of the information likely to be derived would justify the considerable effort required to collect it. I do not therefore propose to reconvene the group's existing provision committee Nor am I persuaded of the justification for a standing panel such as the group recommended to initiate or promote collaborative studies and to review developments.