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National Health Service (Contingency Plans)

Volume 983: debated on Tuesday 29 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what contingency plans exist to prevent a breakdown in the National Health Service; if he will publish these; what role the Armed Forces would be expected to play; and if he will make a statement.

The NHS cannot be allowed to suffer a breakdown. Plans against various contingencies have existed for a number of years and are constantly being updated. For obvious reasons,

cases in which it has been claimed that a baby born before 24 weeks' gestation has survived the neo-natal period. One of these babies was born in Burnley.

All three claims have been investigated; and in all three there was some conflict between the various indicators of maturity obtained during pregnancy and at birth. In none of the cases does the available evidence indicate conclusively that pregnancy had lasted for less than 24 weeks. Indeed, I am advised that the available data indicate that it is unlikely that in any of them birth occurred before 24 weeks' gestation.