§ 98. Mr. Hannam
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what further action is being considered to deal with the continued admissions to hospital of very young children with suspected poisoning.
§ Mr. Bright
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services whether in view of the continuing incidents of child poisoning, he will take steps to provide an increased protection for children by establishing safety standards for blister and strip packaging for medical tablets.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether, in view of the continuing incidence of child poisoning, he will take steps to provide increased protection for children by establishing safety standards for blister and strip packaging for medical tablets;
(2) whether he will give the statistics from 1977 until the most recent date of young children admitted to hospital for in-patient and out-patient treatment as a result of poisoning or suspected poisoning;
(3) whether he will publish information indicating the results of the introduction of child-resistant closures for medicines and the numbers of children admitted to hospital for treatment for poisoning;
(4) what further action is being considered to deal with the continued admission to hospital of very young children with suspected child poisoning;
(5) if he will receive a deputation from the campaign for safety standards in child-resistant packaging;
(6) whether he will establish a system of monitoring and testing strip and blister packaging to ensure child safety.
§ Mr. Newton
[holding answer 26 February 1988]: The Government have emphasised the importance of preventive services generally and specifically asked health authorities to develop local strategies for reducing accidents in the home. We also fund the child accident prevention trust, which collects and disseminates information about accidents to children including information on accidental poisonings. We consider that future action must continue to concentrate on prevention and education.
Our proposals for improved labelling of medicines include a clearer reminder to parents that all medicines should be kept away from children.
The present arrangements are as follows. Under the Medicines (Child Safety) Regulation 1975, as amended, solid dose aspirin and paracetamol are to be supplied retail only in reclosable child resistant containers complying with BS 6652 or in dark or opaque strip or blister packs. 175W The Pharmaceutical Society has since 1981 advised pharmacists to apply the same arrangements to all dispensed solid-dose medicines, unless the patient specifically requests otherwise. In addition, all aspects of safety including quantity, labelling, and packaging are considered before decisions are taken to licence medicines for the market.
Information about the effectiveness of child-resistant packaging has already been published in "Accidental Poisoning in Childhood: A Multicentre Survey" (Human Toxicology, Vol. 6, No. 4, p. 293–31, July 1987). This also emphasised the importance of secure home storage away from children and called for the development of standards of child resistance of packs.
The industry has communicated its guidelines for the design of unit dose packs to the British Standards Institution which is considering them with a view to development of a standard or code of practice. We shall take a close interest in the progress of the work at the institution and will consider actively its conclusions when available.
Should the campaign to which the right hon. Member refers, wish to put particular proposals to us, I should be happy to examine them and to consider whether a meeting might be helpful.
Available information about in-patients aged 0 to 4 treated for the effects of poisoning is given in tables 1 and 2.
Information about out-patients is not available centrally.
Table 1 Estimated number of discharges (including deaths in hospital of in-patients aged 0–4 with main diagnosis of poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances1, non-psychiatric hospitals,England, 1977–85 Year age Group 0–4year 1977 17,600 1978 14,870 1979 13,900 1980 12,960 1981 13,810 1982 13,580 1983 13,820 1984 13,380 1985 12,290 1 1979–85 ICD Codes 960–989 (International Classification of Diseases; 9th Revision) 1975–78 ICD Codes N960-N989 (International Classification of Diseases; 8th Revision)
Table 2 Estimated number of discharges (including deaths in hospital of in-patients aged 0–4 with main diagnosis of poisoning by drugs, medicaments and Bbiological substances1, non-psychiatric hospitals, England, 1975–85 Year Age Group 0–4 year 1975 14,520 1976 12,640 1977 10,910 1978 8,700 1979 8,540 1980 7,800 1981 8,600 1982 8,460 1983 8,240 1984 8,190 1985 7,850
11979–85 ICD Codes 960–979 (International Classification of Diseases; 9th Revision)
1975–78 ICD Codes N960-N979 (International Classification of Diseases; 8th Revision)