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Legionnaire's Disease

Volume 79: debated on Wednesday 22 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now announce the composition, terms of reference and date of the independent public inquiry into the outbreak of legionnaire's disease in Stafford; and whether the inquiry will be held under the provisions of section 84 of the National Health Services Act 1977.

We have decided to establish a public inquiry under section 84 of the National Health Services Act 1977 and section 70 of the Public Health (Control of Infectious Diseases) Act 1984, with the following terms of reference:

—to inquire into the cause of the recent outbreak of legionnaire's disease in Staffordshire;
—to consider the adequacy of measures taken to investigate and to deal with the outbreak;
—to report to the Secretary of State for Social Services and make recommendations on any action necessary to reduce the danger of future outbreaks originating in hospitals, other buildings and elsewhere.
I am pleased to say that Sir John Badenoch, DM, FRCP, honorary consultant physician, Oxfordshire district health authority, and chairman of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, has agreed to chair the inquiry. Other members will include Professor Francis O'Grady, professor of microbiology at the University of Nottingham and Mr. Dan Hannah, chairman of Warrington district health authority. The names of two further members, a lawyer and an engineer, will be announced soon. Preliminary work will start straight away and the inquiry is expected to begin taking evidence early in July.We have all been shocked by the scale of the outbreak of legionnaire's disease in Staffordshire. Our sympathy goes to all those who have lost relatives or friends. Our main concern must now be to ensure that the facts of this tragic outbreak are investigated as fully as possible so that we can take steps to reduce the danger of similar outbreaks occurring in the future. The wide range of expertise of the members and the terms of reference will enable the inquiry to adopt a very broad approach. They will be in no way confined to considering precautions in National Health Service premises. In addition to investigating the cause of this outbreak, they will be able to make recommendations on measures which could help to prevent further outbreaks wherever they might occur. They will be free to make interim recommendations to us on any matter as their work proceeds.