HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 cc97-8W
Mr. Trickett

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidelines his Department has set for the length of time which former miners suffering 80 per cent. emphysema should expect to wait for a spirometer test. [92121]

Mr. Battle

This is the longest running personal injury action in the UK and the development of an agreed assessment process, which can handle the 77,000 claims received, has inevitably taken some considerable time. However, as soon as agreement in principle on spirometry testing was reached in March we awarded the contract for the programme of spirometry testing throughout Scotland, England and Wales to Healthcall Services Limited. This is principally to help prioritise claims for the full medical assessment process, but will also enable us to extend offers of interim payments to new categories of miners and, in some cases, make full and final offers. Some 3,300 claimants have already been assessed, and we anticipate that the majority of the remaining existing claimants will be completed by the Autumn, with the most elderly being considered first. This should help ensure that those with severe disabilities are invited to be tested at an early stage.

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