§ Mr. Carter-Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made on setting up the unit of perinatal epidemiology at Oxford; what staff are now in post; what are the research priorities of the unit; and if he will make a statement.
Joint proposals from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Paediatric Association for a national perinatal224W epidemiology unit were accepted by my Department in June 1977 and financial support was offered for an initial period of three years to cover the costs of a director, secretary and medical statistician.
A board of trustees was created comprising one representative each from the Royal College, the British Paediatric Association and from my Department, and in December 1977 they appointed the unit's first Director, Dr. Ian Chalmers. Dr. Chalmers took up his appointment with effect from 1st January 1978 and moved from Cardiff to Oxford on 1st April to occupy accommodation in the Research Institute at the Churchill Hospital.
A medical statistician was appointed in May for a period of three years and the director's secretary is to take up the post shortly. Agreement has also been reached on the appointment in the autumn of a research epidemiologist with secretary for three years. At the same time support for the unit has been extended from three to five years—that is, until 31st December 1982.
The broad remit of the unit is to conduct epidemiological research in the perinatal field with a view to providing information which can promote effective use of resources in the perinatal health services. Work during the initial period of support will include the development of the standardisation of routinely collected statistics, a review of existing schemes of confidential inquiries into perinatal deaths, the documentation of local perinatal survey data and the formulation of plans for a fourth national perinatal survey.