HL Deb 03 July 1997 vol 581 cc297-8
Lord Rowallan

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, as reported in the recent programme "Frontline Scotland" (broadcast on 25th March 1997, repeated on BBC2 on 17th June 1997), it is possible for people who have no relevant qualifications to set themselves up as paramedics and attend major sporting and other events; and, if so, whether they propose to take any action to remedy this.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel)

My Lords, it is the responsibility of event organisers to make sure that staff they expect to attend to injured or ill people are appropriately qualified. They should seek advice from local health boards or from the Health and Safety Executive.

Although we have no current proposals for compulsory registration of paramedics at present, our minds are not closed and the issue will be kept under active consideration.

Lord Rowallan

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I am concerned that along the length and breadth of the country organisations which have even been employed by the Crown Office have people who purport to be paramedics. As was shown in the two programmes, those people can cause great hurt and damage to persons who believe that they are receiving the best of treatment. Are the Government aware that the BMA has passed a motion that the title "paramedic" should be legally protected and urges the Government to take the necessary legislative steps to ensure that that occurs?

Lord Sewel

My Lords, I appreciate the noble Lord's concern on this matter. The issue seems to have mushroomed recently. Clearly government and ministerial colleagues in general would wish to give considerable consideration to the views of the BMA. However, at this moment I cannot give an undertaking that we shall come forward with definite proposals. It is a matter that we shall wish to consider. I shall take back to them the noble Lord's message from the BMA.

Lord Howell

My Lords, in view of the reopening of the Hillsborough inquiry into an event in which there were many unfortunate deaths and injuries, will my noble friend consider asking Lord Justice Stuart-Smith if he will kindly consider the ancillary matter of properly trained people at sporting occasions?

Lord Sewel

My Lords, the point raised is more general than the specific matters to be dealt with under the Hillsborough inquiry. We would wish to come forward with a general proposition affecting the whole country rather than basing it on a specific inquiry.

The Earl of Lindsay

My Lords, how widespread does the Minister believe the problem to be? At what point would the Minister be prepared to do something about it?

Lord Sewel

My Lords, I am aware that it is a growing problem; I am not sure of its dimensions. At this stage I pay tribute to the considerable work undertaken by the Red Cross, the Saint Andrew's Ambulance Association, and the St. John Ambulance Association and Brigade in attending sporting events. I seriously urge all those connected with organising sporting events to make sure that they take the proper advice and seek the assistance of reputable organisations.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, the Minister's first Answer struck me as being extremely complacent. Do the Government appreciate that people who are not properly qualified who set themselves up as paramedics can be extremely dangerous to those who are injured or ill?

Lord Sewel

My Lords, the difficulty is that the profession of paramedics is relatively new. I do not think that anyone is yet certain about the appropriate qualification for a paramedic. Considerable progress has still to be made on that issue.

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