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Emergency Services (Code Of Conduct)

Volume 961: debated on Tuesday 30 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress he has made in establishing a code of conduct to safeguard the rights of patients during hospital disputes.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek to establish with the unions concerned a code of conduct to cover situations where human lives are at risk.

I have had discussions with the leaders of the main NHS unions and professions, but so far it has not been possible to achieve agreement on detailed national procedures or guidelines that would be generally suitable in local circumstances. It is not merely the wide variety of the treatment situations and the varying degrees of dependence of the patient; there is the wide range of NHS staff who contribute in one way or another to treatment and care and industrial action may, therefore, take a wide variety of forms. I have decided that the arrangements for maintaining emergency or minimum services must be determined locally and, at my request, health authorities are discussing these with local representatives of the unions. Any difficulties that cannot be settled locally will be taken up urgently by the health departments with the unions concerned at national level.