§ Mr. Adley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now introduce legislation along the lines of the Swine 'Flu Bill passed by the United States Congress, under which Her Majesty's Government would agree to cover the costs of all litigation undertaken by people against drug manufacturers or medical practitioners, who have, 576W or who claim to have suffered unforeseen side-effects following vaccination against disease, provided such vaccination has been generally recommended by his Department.
§ Mr. Ennals
As there is, under present law, no cause of action in relation to administration of vaccines except where there is negligence, it would not be appropriate to finance litigation of this kind.
§ Mr. Shersby
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what advice he is giving to the public concerning the benefits of vaccination in relation to the health risks involved in contracting various infectious diseases; and what assurances he can give parents concerning future compensation in the event of damage resulting from vaccination;
(2) if he is aware of increasing public concern about the safety of vaccination against all infectious diseases resulting from the publicity given to vaccine damage caused by whooping-cough immunisation; and if he will make a statement concerning the safety-in-use of other vaccines with a view to restoring public confidence.
§ Mr. Shersby
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, in view of the fact that nearly 5,000 children in the London borough of Hillingdon had to be vaccinated against poliomeylitis following the admittance to hospital of a patient suspected of suffering from the disease; what percentage of the child population of the borough remains unprotected against the disease; and what advice he proposes to give the general public concerning the safety in use of this vaccine prior to a vaccination campaign to be conducted by the area health authority in 1977.
§ Mr. Ennals
Information on the percentage of children unvaccinated in the borough of Hillingdon is not available. As regards advice to the public I would ask the hon. Member to await the statement I propose to make tomorrow.
§ Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether it is his department's policy that parents of 577W children undergoing (a) operations and (b) immunisation should be informed of the risks involved however small they may be.
§ Mr. Ennals,
pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 19th January 1977; Vol. 924, c. 251–3], gave the following information:
Before an operation is carried out on a child in an NHS hospital there must be obtained from the parent or guardian written consent to the operation and written confirmation that its nature and purpose have been explained by a doctor. Guidance on this was given in a Circular, DS 30/71, issued in February 1971. Information about the nature of the operation is taken to include information about the risks involved. A child who has attained the age of 16 years may, by virtue of the Family Law Reform Act 1969, give his own consent. In grave emergencies it may be necessary to operate before the parent's consent has been obtained.
On the question of warning parents of the risks of vaccination, I would ask my hon. Friend to await the statement I propose to make tomorrow.