§ 6. Mr. Frank Cook
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when his Department last conducted a survey of the safety standards of National Health Service X-ray equipment.
§ Mrs. Currie
The safety standards of National Health Service equipment are covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and more recently by the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985. It is the health authorities and other National Health Service users of X-ray equipment who are individually responsible for ensuring that these regulations are observed, and it is the duty of the Health and Safety Executive, which is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, to enforce compliance.
§ Mr. Cook
I thank the Minister for telling me what I already knew. I know where the responsibilities lie. Having avoided the question on the Order Paper, will the Minister tell me whether she is aware that medical opinion—and I guess that we must listen to medical opinion, even if there is conflict among it—says that 1,400 serious cancers per year are caused in the United Kingdom by the over-prescription of radiography and by the use of outdated and antiquated radiographic equipment? What does the Minister or her Department intend to do about that parlous state of affairs?
§ Mrs. Currie
I am sure that there are many medical opinions that would challenge vigorously the extraordinary statement that the hon. Gentleman has just made. Radiotherapy is one of the most long-established and best treatments for cancer that we have. May I also remind him, in case he had not noticed, that we are in the middle of the biggest hospital building programme in the history of the National Health Service. As part of that programme, in the past five years more than 120 new X-ray rooms have been provided. More than 50 of them were provided last year.