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Obstetric Departments (Equipment)

Volume 14: debated on Monday 30 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many obstetric departments have the necessary monitoring equipment and staff to investigate the level of oxygen in newly born premature babies;(2) if he will make additional resources available for the purchase and use of sophisticated ventilator equipment to assist in the prevention of blindness in premature babies who are given oxygen.

Equipment for monitoring the oxygen levels in the blood of newly born babies whose treatment includes the giving of oxygen is a standard feature of neonatal intensive care units; information as to how many other special care baby units also have this equipment is not available centrally. I am advised that the provision of sophisticated ventilator—as distinct from monitoring—equipment would not in itself contribute to the solution of this difficult problem.In our reply—Cmnd. 8084—to the report on perinatal and neonatal mortality by the Committee of which the hon. Member is chairman we gave our reasons as to why maternity services could not be given overriding priority and therefore would not receive a special allocation of funds. The Select Committee on Social Services' recommendation that the amount and type of equipment available for the care of new born infants should be investigated was referred to health authorities in health circular HC(80)13.