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Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: The minutes of meetings of the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissue for Transplantation (MSBT) will be published on the Department of Health website shortly.

The MSBT has considered the relative efficacy and risks of the different types of fresh frozen plasma (FFP) available to the National Health Service and

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recommended the use of United Kingdom single unit FFP as opposed to pooled plasma. However individual clinicians remain free to choose the best product for their patients.

As a precautionary measure all FFP produced by the UK blood services has been leucodepleted to remove the white cells which evidence suggests may carry the greatest risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Although most UK FFP is not virally inactivated, high levels of safety are achieved by using single unit, as opposed to pooled plasma, by screening out potential high risk donors and by testing every unit of donated blood for the presence of infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C before it is released to hospitals.

The decision taken to import FFP from the United States for young babies and children born after 1 January 1996 will provide additional protection to the most vulnerable group who will not have been exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy through the food chain. As an added precaution, it is being treated by the National Blood Service (NBS) with methylene blue viral inactivation to further reduce the risk of viral transmission for this the most vulnerable group. The methylene blue photoinactivation system for FFP has a CE mark of conformity under the Medical Devices Directive. In addition, the NBS will be removing more than 90 per cent of the methylene blue before the FFP is issued to National Health Service hospitals.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Chief Medical Officer will publish the results of his review of fresh frozen plasma.[HL4253]

Lord Warner: The Chief Medical Officer is not carrying out a review of fresh frozen plasma. We are aware that the British Committee for Standards in Haematology is preparing professional guidelines on the use of fresh frozen plasma.

National Care Standards Commission: Annual Report 2002–03

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the first annual report of the National Care Standards Commission will be published.[HL4309]

Lord Warner: The National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) was established under the Care Standards Act 2000 as part of the Government's reforms to modernise the regulatory system for care services and independent healthcare. Its main aims are to drive up the quality of services and improve the level of protection for vulnerable people by the regulation of social care and independent healthcare services. It carries out regular inspections of services against national minimum standards set by the Secretary of State for Health and has strong powers of enforcement to ensure that services meet the required standards.

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The NCSC is an independent, non-departmental public body, with its own chair, chief executive, board and inspection staff.

The NCSC's management statement sets out that, at the end of each financial year, the commission shall publish an annual report, together with its audited annual accounts. The reports and accounts should outline the NCSC's main activities and performance during the previous financial year and set out a summary of its forward plans. The management statement also sets out that the report and accounts will be laid before Parliament.

The NCSC has just come to the end of its first year of operation. This will therefore be its first annual report.

Copies of the NCSC's annual report for 2002–03 have been placed in the Library.

Health and Social Care: New Audit and Inspectorate Bodies

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they plan to meet the expenditure needed to set up the new audit and inspectorate bodies which it is planned will come into effect on 1 April 2004 as detailed in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill.[HL4310]

Lord Warner: Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £22 million for the set-up of these new services will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department of Health. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £11.3 million will be met by repayable cash advances from the contingencies fund.

The expenditure is required to ensure the set-up of two new bodies detailed in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill currently before Parliament. The Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection (CHAI) and the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) are planned to come into effect on 1 April 2004, subject to the successful passage of the Bill. This date is key for delivering operational effectiveness gains (including retention of valuable professional expertise and the goodwill of existing inspectors and staff) which would otherwise be lost of significantly delayed.

CHAI will take over the work of the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI), the Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC), the national NHS value for money work of the Audit Commission and the independent healthcare work of the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC). CSCI will take on the social care services work of NCSC, the work of the Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) and the joint review team of the SSI/Audit Commission. SSI is currently a part of the Department of Health. The speedy integration of these constituent bodies will provide a strengthened inspection and audit function and thus

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improvements in the commissioning and delivery of health and social services.

HSE Prosecution of Metropolitan Police Service

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who took the decision to prosecute the former Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Lord Condon, and his successor, Sir John Stevens, for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.[HL3714]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The decision to prosecute was taken by the Health and Safety Executive in the exercise of its statutory powers, applying the principles set out in the Health and Safety Commission's Enforcement Policy Statement and the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The decision was first made in May 2000. HSE kept this decision under review in accordance with the code, and sought advice from leading counsel. The public interest in prosecuting was carefully considered and the views of the Attorney-General were sought on this. The final decision to prosecute was made in March 2002 by HSE, taking into account all the relevant factors and the legal advice given.

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they were informed of (a) the possibility and (b) the intention to prosecute the former Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Lord Condon, and his successor, Sir John Stevens, for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; and whether on any occasion the Government were invited to comment on or offered a comment on the possibility or intention to prosecute.[HL3715]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Health and Safety Executive provided occasional status reports to its sponsoring Ministers as part of routine business but at no time invited comment from them on this exercise of its enforcement powers. The Attorney-General was consulted for his views on the public interest in prosecuting this case in September 2001 (although not on the strength of the evidence). He expressed the view having regard to Parliament's intention in enacting the legislation, the stated policy of the HSE and the seriousness of the consequences of the alleged conduct of the Metropolitan Police that a prosecution was in the public interest. A prosecution had the support of the family of the deceased police officer.

In October 2002, the Home Secretary wrote to the Attorney-General offering observations about the public interest in prosecuting and asking him to consider whether the continuing prosecution was in the public interest. The Attorney-General concluded after a period of further consideration that the public interest continued to be in favour of the prosecution.

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The Attorney-General copied his reply to other members of the Cabinet whose responsibilities were relevant with a request that any further matters to which they would wish to draw his attention in the public interest should be made known to him. No further representations were received.

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