§ Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the future of the public health laboratory service.
§ Mr. Hayhoe
A review of the public health laboratory service (PHLS) was undertaken by our Department as part of its normal accountability responsibilities towards non-departmental public bodies. The report's main proposal, that management responsibility for the 52 peripheral laboratories should transfer to the National Health Service, has been the subject of wide consultation. It was right to question the managerial and financial relationships between the peripheral laboratories and the district health authorities they serve, and our Department will continue to discuss these issues with the PHLS board. However, we have given careful consideration to the responses to consultation and to the board's own views. Guiding this consideration was the need to ensure that any change would be beneficial and not prejudice the service's contribution to public health and control of infectious228W disease. It was decided that management responsibilty should not be transferred and an announcement was made to that effect on 27 September.
The report made a number of other recommendations which were both useful and acceptable and which are being implemented by the board.