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Tuberculosis care funding criticised

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London health authorities have so far failed to provide funding for a mobile unit that treats tuberculosis among homeless people and prisoners, a health minister said today.

Baroness Thornton said that the unit was a “very important” part of the “find and treat” strategy for tackling TB in London.

At question time in the Lords, crossbench peer Baroness Masham of Ilton said that funding for the “excellent” unit which goes around homeless hostels and prisons was due to run out in December.

Lady Thornton, emphasising the unit’s worth, said it had identified 400 cases of TB.

But she added: “I regret to say that at this moment the primary care trusts in London have yet to co-operate together to find a relatively small amount of money each - I think it is something in the range of £20,000 to £30,000 - to keep the mobile units going.”

Liberal Democrat Lord Roberts of Llandudno said it was a “great weakness” that the London boroughs were operating “so independently”.

He asked: “What is being done to get more co-operation between the London boroughs so there is a pan-London approach to rough sleeping, homelessness and health matters?”

Lady Thornton replied: “We are exhorting them, we are trying to persuade them and we intend to continue to do so.

“There are plans in place to do this. There is no reason why with a co-ordinated approach that is cross-party and is across the boroughs why we cannot deal with this in a co-ordinated fashion in London.”

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