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Hospital Kitchens

Volume 929: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the hospitals in which at 31st August 1976 the advice of the Environmental Health Officers' Association, as commended to regional hospital boards in his Department's circulars, has not been acted upon or accepted for action; and what steps he is taking to ensure that food handling areas in these and all other hospitals meet the standards of the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he has received the report on hygiene standards in hospital kitchens which names 153 hospitals which, but for immunity, would be open to prosecution; and if he will name them;(2) what steps he has taken following the 1975 survey by environmental health officers to bring standards in hospitals up to the level required by the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations.

Following the 1975 survey by the Environmental Health Officers' Association a meeting was held between officials of my Department and of the association, and a joint programme of action was agreed, which included the preparation of new guidance for health authorities and co-operation in the preparation of training programmes at national and local levels. Neither that survey, nor the recent report received in my Department on 15th March 1977, identifies individual hospitals. A further meeting is being arranged with the Environmental Health Officers' Association to discuss the significance of the latest findings and to assess what further action may be necessary.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to remove the difficulties which make it impossible for environmental health officers to have the same right of access and right of prosecution in hospitals as they have on private premises.

Although local authority environmental health officers have no power to inspect Crown premises, including National Health Service hospital kitchens, health authorities have been instructed to ensure that the standards of the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations are observed and to submit their hospital kitchens to inspection as though Crown immunity did not apply. I do not consider prosecution to be appropriate in the case of Crown premises, but there is a standing arrangement whereby the failure of a health authority to take necessary action may be reported directly to my Department.