HL Deb 06 February 1986 vol 470 cc1357-8WA
Lord Mellish

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Department of Health and Social Security have yet completed their review of Crown Immunity in respect of hospital kitchens.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Baroness Trumpington)

Yes. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has completed the review of Crown Immunity or hospital kitchens in respect of the food hygiene provisions of the Food Act 1984.

The Government share the widespread concern about the state of hygiene in some hospital kitchens. This problem led to tragic consequences in August 1984 at the Stanley Royd Hospital, which was the subject of the recent inquiry. In responding to these problems there can be no substitute for more effective management and supervision in hospital kitchens generally. The introduction of general managers, who will be both responsible and accountable for these and other matters, will do much to secure this. But the Government have concluded that there is more that can and should be done.

The Food Act 1984 and the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations 1970 do not apply to the Crown. Nevertheless, it has for many years been government policy that health authorities should behave as if they did. But the Government have decided that the nature of the problem displayed by recent events is such that stronger safeguards are needed to underpin management effort and above all to protect the patients. We therefore intend to introduce legislation in the present session to remove Crown Immunity from hospital catering in respect of the food hygiene regulations by making health authorities subject to the provisions of the Food Act.

This legislation will be coupled with strengthened guidance to the health service on measures to ensure high food hygiene standards. The Government are determined to spare no effort to secure the highest standards of food hygiene in hospitals.