§ Mr. Greg Knight
To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS hospitals in England and Wales use(a) Cidex and (b) Gluteraldehyde as a disinfecting agent; what assessment he has made of the safety implications for staff and patients of its continued use; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Yvette Cooper
[holding answer 29 January 2002]: It is common practice within national health service hospitals to use chemicals to disinfect medical devices such as flexible endoscopes, and some surgical instruments where the device cannot be decontaminated by conventional methods which employ steam at high temperature. The most common chemical used is Gluteraldehyde, of which Cidex is a brand name. Information on which chemicals are used at individual hospitals in England is not collected centrally.
Gluteraldehyde falls under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations and is subject to strict control and continuous monitoring at local level. An annual risk assessment is required of how this substance is being used in the clinical setting. Where operating procedures suggest that exposure risk from inhalation is high, there is a requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act to undertake environmental 558W monitoring of the area. Monitoring is carried out by a qualified person with immediate corrective action being taken where necessary. This is included in the Controls Assurance Standards.