§ Mr. Ian Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she has identified within her Department any other candidates for agency status under the next steps initiative.
§ Mr. Sackville
I have decided that the medical devices directorate should be launched as an agency at the beginning of the next financial year.
The new agency will be responsible for ensuring that medical devices for sale or use in the United Kingdom meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and effectiveness and that these standards comply with the statutory scheme controlling medical devices throughout the European Community.
The agency will have more freedom to manage its affairs and clearer responsibilities within a framework of objectives, performance targets and resources agreed with Ministers.
I am confident that the move to agency status will enable the directorate to control, monitor and advise on the safety of medical devices more effectively and more efficiently, to the greater benefit of patients and users alike.
This will bring the agencies in the Department to four. The identification of other candidates is a continuing objective.