HC Deb 02 February 1971 vol 810 cc1451-2
17. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will initiate an inquiry into the circumstances in which hospital emergency generators have failed to operate instantaneously in the event of power cuts; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Alison

Reports on significant failures of mechanical and electrical plant are sent to my Department, and I am aware of a failure at one hospital on which the manufacturer's report is awaited. If further inquiries show that standby generators designed to take up the load instantaneously failed to do so I will consider whether additional technical guidance should be issued.

Mr. Judd

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Would he not agree that, as this equipment is designed to deal with emergencies, it is by definition expected to deal with the unexpected, but that there are reasons to believe that. at the moment, it cannot fulfil this function? Will the hon. Gentleman speed action to allay public anxiety by having a full inquiry into the Health Service and hospitals as a whole?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman will know that in the older hospitals, where it is not possible to have dual circuitry conveying power both to essential and to non-esesntial services separately, there has to be some element of switching, taking up a slight amount of time, when a standby generator is brought into effect. However, we are carefully considering the routine engineers' reports to see whether further steps should be taken.