HL Deb 15 December 1998 vol 595 cc140-1WA
Earl Attlee

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Answer by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 16 November (H.L. Deb., col. 1116) regarding miners' respiratory diseases and the issue of medical assessments, what is: (a) their best estimate of the number of assessments required; (b) the estimated duration of each test; (c) the estimated number of specialists available to perform the tests; and (d) their best estimate of the date by which either the majority or 80 per cent. of all assessments will have been completed.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

  1. (a) All claimants will undertake a medical assessment but the type and length of that assessment will depend on the details of the claim and the condition of the individual. We do not expect that all claimants will need an examination under our proposals but, until the Medical Assessment Process is finally agreed and the number of claimants is more accurately known—to date we have received some 65,000 claims—it is difficult to estimate the number who will need to be assessed.
  2. (b) The duration of each test will depend on the final agreed Medical Assessment Process (MAP) WA 141 and the claims and condition of the individual claimant.
  3. (c) There are approximately 500 respiratory lung specialists throughout the UK. However, these specialists will he required to carry out the examination of a claimant only where such an examination is necessary. The spirometry and summaries of the medical records—other elements of the MAP—need not be carried out by specialists.
  4. (d) We aim to start an initial national spirometry testing programme in February, subject to the outcome of the tendering process. This should ensure that interim payments and, in some cases, full and final settlements, can be offered by the early spring to those miners who are most severely disabled. We hope the delivery mechanisms for the MAP will he in place by early summer.