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Protective Equipment

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 14 April, Official Report, column 621W, on protective equipment, if he will make a statement on the mid-March review and assessment of readiness by NHS trusts for responding to incidents. [111370]

The Department of Health has recently completed its comprehensive review of National Health Service major incident plans. This review took into consideration conclusions reached by the National Audit Office in Facing the Challenge: NHS Emergency Planning in England. Preliminary analysis from this review has shown that all NHS bodies have addressed the concerns that caused them to assess themselves as not "well prepared"; they now all assess themselves as at least "prepared".The outcome from the review will be used to develop a programme of work to further enhance NHS preparedness.All NHS trusts with accident and emergency (A and E) departments and ambulance services are "prepared" to respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents. A programme to replace faulty personal protective equipment is well underway and all appropriate trusts have received at least 50 per cent. of their modified suits. A further batch of suits have been purchased which will provide each A and E department with additional supplies.