§ 3.9 p.m.
§ LORD CROOK
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any statement to make about a recent circular from the Department of Health and Social Security on the use of standard 13-amp socket outlets in hospital installations which it has been suggested do not comply with the I.E.E. Wiring Regulations.]
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY (LORD ABERDARE)
My Lords, this circular letter reminded hospital authorities of the need to standardise electrical socket-outlets in hospitals to facilitate the use of mobile electrical equipment. This applies especially to medical apparatus which may be needed quickly for live-saving purposes. The letter stressed that every effort should be made to replace 5-amp. and 15-amp. sockets by 13-amp. sockets as soon as possible. It also reminded authorities that 13-amp. sockets could be used for most mobile X-ray machines subject to certain safeguards and the use of special plugs.
Detailed advice on the use of these plugs had been given to hospitals in a separate paper and was not repeated in the letter. Hospitals have since been reminded that these two guidance documents should be treated as complementary and given further advice on the marking of these plugs for safety reasons. I am assured that the Department's current advice (if the noble Lord will excuse an unfortunate pun) provides a safe and effective way of supplying electricity to mobile X-ray machines.
§ LORD CROOK
My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for a valuable Answer, may I ask whether he is aware of one sentence in the circular which reads:It is considered suitable for two 13-amp. sockets to be connected to each 15-amp. circuit. …Is he satisfied that that is satisfactory?
§ LORD ABERDARE
My Lords, we are satisfied that the safe use of 13-amp sockets is assured. The noble Lord will realise that it is only put into operation under the guidance of properly qualified electrical engineers in hospitals, and that it is the only way of getting mobile X-ray equipment into use in the wards without rewiring the whole of every hospital.