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Registered Care Homes

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria he will use to determine the ability of registered care homes, within the meaning of the Care Standards Act 2000, to provide nursing care to residents. [155411]

Mr. Hutton: The Care Standards Act 2000 defines a care home as any home which provides accommodation together with nursing or personal care for any person who is or has been ill (including mental disorder), is disabled or infirm, or who has a past or present dependence on drugs or alcohol.

Care homes providing nursing will be required to meet the "Care Homes for Older People--National Minimum Standards" published on 2 March 2001. Nursing input will be determined using a recognised assessment tool, according to departmental guidance which is currently being prepared. National Health Service registered nurses will calculate the amount of nursing input for which the NHS will pay. In care homes providing nursing, the registered manager will have to be a first level registered nurse and, by 2005, have a relevant management qualification, as well as having at least two years experience in a senior management capacity in managing a relevant care setting within the past five years.

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Blood Containers

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent reports he has received regarding the safety of continuing to use PVC bags to contain blood in hospitals. [155775]

Mr. Denham: The Department is aware of six reports in the last two years relevant to the safety of the continued use of PVC blood bags. The reports were written by: The American Council on Science and Health; Greenpeace; the International Agency for Research on Cancer; Health Care Without Harm; the United States National Toxicology Program and the Swedish National Chemicals Inspectorate. They inform the continuing assessment of the safety of PVC blood bags used by the national blood services.

Stroke Patients

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will set standards for the care of stroke patients across health and social care settings; and when he intends to publish the National Service Framework for Older People. [155911]

Mr. Hutton: The Department published the National Service Framework for Older People (NSF) on 27 March 2001. The NSF covers conditions prevalent among older people, including stroke, and it applies to all stroke patients.

The NSF will drive up the quality, and reduce variations in services for older people. The stroke standard sets out the standards of stroke prevention and care which will be put in place and a service model for integrated specialist stroke services which will be in place in all general hospitals which care for people with stroke by April 2004.

North Merseyside Health Action Zone

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the North Merseyside Health Action Zone. [155969]

Mr. Denham: Merseyside Health Action Zone (MHAZ) is one of the leading health action zones in the country--both in tackling inequalities and in relation to the modernisation agenda.

During 2000-01 it invested over £7 million to support the implementation of coronary heart disease, cancer, and mental health national service frameworks. In Sefton it supports 66 schemes including four healthy living initiatives. The Netherton feelgood factory, a collaboration between MHAZ, pathways, single regeneration budget six and Bootle and Litherland primary care group partners, recently secured £900,000 from the new opportunities fund to develop a new building, housing a range of health related services.

Meat Hygiene Inspections

Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received about recommendations in the Food Standard Agency's HACCP and food safety in slaughterhouses report concerning the

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replacing of independent Government meat inspection with industry inspection; and what response he has made. [154690]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 28 March 2001]: I am advised that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) distributed a draft report on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and food safety in slaughterhouses to various stakeholder organisations and individuals attending a workshop arranged by the FSA in November last year. The draft report covered a wide range of issues relating to the European Commission's (EC) desire to introduce a new approach to the management of food safety in red and white meat slaughterhouses. The issues covered in the report included a suggested approach to the implementation of a HACCP based system in slaughterhouses; the need to reflect the fact that current meat inspection procedures do not adequately control microbiological hazards in meat, the responsibilities of operators; official inspection, supervision and enforcement and the need for the control regime to adapt to the new requirements. Comments on the draft report were received from the UNISON representative at the workshop and these have been noted.

The EC has subsequently published a working document (entitled "The Development of Risk-Based Meat Inspection System") which is intended to form the basis of a EC proposal for new legislation on meat inspection. The EC intends to submit such a proposal by September 2001. The FSA will now seek to discuss with stakeholder organisations the approach to be taken when negotiations on that proposal eventually begin.

Mr. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what discussions he has had (a) at the Council of Ministers and (b) with the European Commission on Commission proposals to replace independent Government meat inspection with industry inspection; and if he will make a statement; [154691]

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Ms Stuart [holding answer sent 28 March 2001]: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that the European Commission (EC) has not issued any proposals to replace independent Government meat inspection with industry inspection. Although it has issued a draft regulation on official controls for products of animal origin, as part of a package of proposals to amend and consolidate all existing European Union food hygiene legislation, this largely repeats the current inspection and supervision provisions in meat plants. This draft regulation has yet to be discussed in the European Council working groups in Brussels.

However, in recognition of the fact that current meat inspection procedures do not adequately control microbiological hazards in meat, the EC has prepared a working document entitled "The Development of a Risk-based Meat Inspection System", which the FSA circulated to stakeholders in January. This document, which is the product of discussions held by the EC with independent experts and officials from member states, including officials from the FSA, is intended to form the basis for a EC proposal for new legislation on meat inspection. It follows the general principle that food operators have the primary responsibility for food safety and must guarantee that food safety hazards are under control through the successful application of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) -based system.

The working document proposes that the competent authority should remain present in slaughterhouses for reasons of animal health, animal welfare, public health and consumer confidence. However, it suggests certain elements of ante- and post-mortem inspection could be integrated into the HACCP system. The EC aims to publish the proposal by September 2001 in the form of a draft regulation. This is in line with its policy to achieve uniform implementation across all EU countries. The views of member states will be established during the course of subsequent negotiations at official level.

The FSA, which provides independent advice to the Government and consumers on food safety matters, will represent the United Kingdom at those negotiations. The FSA will consult widely once the EC's proposals have been published, including taking advice from Agriculture Departments who are responsible for animal health and welfare controls in slaughterhouses. The FSA believes there may be food safety benefits from integrating some aspects of meat inspection into HACCP plans, but would not countenance changes to the present system which did not fully protect consumers, or which effectively allowed the meat industry to police itself.


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