§ 3. Mr. Bill Walker
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what priority he gives in civil defence planning for the National Health Service to first aid and care in the community; if he has any plans to increase this priority; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Ray Whitney)
The draft consultation document on civil defence planning issued by the Department in 1985 proposed that emergency health care facilities be centred on single tier emergency medical centres which would be staffed wherever possible by general practitioners and retired doctors, together with qualified nurses drawn from various sources, members of the voluntary aid societies and volunteers from the public. Health authorities are responsible for the location and manning of emergency health care facilities, including first-aid posts, for isolated communities. Health emergency planning officers are responsible for co-ordinating civil defence plans in NHS regions, and they have done much work in identifying suitable premises for community care.
§ Mr. Walker
Does my hon. Friend agree that much irresponsible nonsense is spoken about civil defence as it affects the National Health Service? We therefore welcome the comments that he has made about the way in which the matter has been co-ordinated, because all the experience of the second world war and subsequent wars has shown that it is essential to have properly planned and integrated health care facilities alongside other civil defence preparations.
§ Mr. Whitney
I agree with all my hon. Friend's points. Health emergency planning officers are hard at work along the lines of which he obviously approves.
§ Mr. Whitney
As I understand it, the health and emergency planning officers have identified areas in all regions. They will continue planning particular health centres to provide emergency medical help.
§ Mr. Boyes
Does the Minister agree that if this country is attacked by nuclear or any other kind of weapons, that nurses, doctors or girl guides running around with first-aid kits of bandages, elastoplasts, cold cream and other such things will make no contribution? It is a laughable notion. The only services that will be needed will be burial and funeral services. Will the Government stop conning people that it is possible to survive a nuclear war, and get down to the business of preventing it?
§ Mr. Whitney
It makes every sort of sense for this Government or any other responsible Government to take the sort of precautions that I have outlined to the House. I ask the House to recognise that peace has been preserved by following the NATO defensive strategy, which, until the present Labour party policy, Governments of both complexions have followed. The dangers of nuclear war would come about if Labour party policies were implemented.
§ Mr. Gerald Bowden
Will my hon. Friend meet the cost of training voluntary aid personnel in civil defence duties?