HC Deb 26 February 2001 vol 363 cc451-2W
Mr. Harvey

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which hospitals do not have the facilities to sterilise instruments against VCJD; and if he will make a statement. [150432]

Mr. Denham

We have received advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee that a key factor in reducing the theoretical risk of person-toperson spread of variant CJD during surgery is high standards of decontamination of surgical instruments. In October, we issued a circular (Health Service Circular 2000–032) to the National Health Service emphasising the importance of effective decontamination in preventing the spread of variant CJD. As a result of this circular, all NHS trusts in England have been instructed to perform an all-embracing review of their decontamination facilities and procedures. In addition, the Department is carrying out a comprehensive survey of the NHS in England to assess the effectiveness of decontamination and we expect it to be complete by April 2001.

On 4 January I announced that we were investing £200 million to modernise NHS decontamination and sterilisation facilities. The money will ensure that surgical equipment is cleaned and sterilised to the highest standards possible io protect patients from a theoretical risk of variant CJD. The investment will underpin a major overhaul to provide the NHS with the most up-to-date decontamination services.