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Volume 972: debated on Friday 2 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what research work is being done in the use of new materials and new techniques for prostheses of all types; and if he will make a full statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the annual report "Research and Development Work on Equipment for the Disabled 1978"—HC191—published this July, prepared by my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Social Services, for Scotland and for Wales, which covers research into prostheses in relation to artificial limbs.Other research into materials and techniques for prostheses is so wide-ranging that the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. If the hon. Member would like information about research in any particular area perhaps he would write to me.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress is being made in the recruitment and training of specialists in limb manufacture and limb fitting.

Since 1968 the basic training of limbfitters has been carried out under a four-year course. The course is approved by the Department and organised by the British Institute of Surgical Technicians in conjunction with the United Kingdom centre for biomedical technology at Paddington technical college. It comprises academic studies, including the life sciences, clinical and prosthetic instruction, and a final intern year of practical experience. All limbfitters who treat National Health Service patients are now required to have completed this course successfully, or to have been trained to an equivalent approved standard.Refresher and post-certification courses for limbfitters are also arranged at Paddington college and at the national centre for training and education in prosthetics, University of Strathclyde.All those engaged in the manufacture of artificial limbs will have served a trade training or a normal trade apprenticeship in their particular field.

So far as I am aware recruitment is sufficient to meet the needs of the industry.