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Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the shortage of anaesthetists and the availability of epidural anaesthetics.

It is for health authorities to decide how many medical anaesthetic staff are required to meet their plans for the provision of anaesthetic services within the resources available to them. We are satisfied that there are at present adequate numbers of doctors training in anaesthetics to meet planned developments in these services but the position is closely monitored by the joint planning advisory committee. Epidural analgesia is available through all consultant obstetric departments. However, this service can be provided only by doctors trained and experienced in its administration and in resuscitation. Where the facility is not available, other forms of analgesia are used.