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Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 4 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 19 February 2008, Official Report, columns 668-69W, on drug resistant tuberculosis, whether his Department has powers to detain an individual diagnosed with drug resistant tuberculosis; and if he will make a statement. (189625)

The Department does not have powers to detain an individual diagnosed with drug resistant tuberculosis.

The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 contains provisions relating to notifiable diseases (which includes tuberculosis) that enable a local authority to apply to a justice of the peace for an order to remove an infected individual to hospital (section 37) and to detain an infected individual in hospital (section 38), where that individual could pose a serious risk of infection to others. Such orders may direct that the period of detention should last for a specific length of time, and a justice of the peace may renew an order where necessary.

In practice, these powers are rarely used, and usually as a last resort when other efforts to encourage an individual with tuberculosis to comply with drug therapy have failed. The Health Protection Agency estimate that there are approximately 10 to 20 orders made under the 1984 Act provisions each year.