HC Deb 27 November 1984 vol 68 cc768-9
7. Mr. Galley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects the publication of the third report from the Maternity Services Advisory Committee.

Mr. John Patten

The committee's report should be ready early in the new year.

Mr. Galley

I acknowledge the valuable work of the MSAC and the growing improvements in maternity services, particularly in perinatal mortality rates, but does my hon. Friend agree that further research needs to be done into cot deaths? What steps is he prepared to take to monitor the situation more closely and to arrange more research into this harrowing topic?

Mr. Patten

I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks about the MSAC, which has so far produced two excellent reports. We are looking forward to its third report in the new year. A considerable amount of work is going on at present into the problems of cot deaths, and Professor Knoweloen from the University of Sheffield will shortly be reporting on the results of a trial examination of these problems that has been going on for the last seven years. We look forward to receiving that shortly in the new year.

Mrs. Renée Short

Assuming that the advisory committee will reinforce the demands of the Select Committee for better standards of care for the distressed newborn, does the Minister accept that his Department's responsibility is to ensure that those standards are enforced? That is different from recommending. Is that not particularly so, given that in social class 4 in the west midlands the perinatal death rate of distressed babies rose from 13.1 in 1981 to 13.3 in 1982, which is way above the national average?

Mr. Patten

We have drawn the attention of all regional and district health authorities to the recommendations of the MSAC. I know that the hon. Lady shares my pleasure that we have seen recent record reductions in perinatal mortality in this country.