HC Deb 30 June 2003 vol 408 cc144-5W
Mr. Olner

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations he has received from the funeral industry about the possibility of infection from the handling of infected bodies where proper notification has not been given to the relevant funeral director; and what action he plans to take; [115477]

(2)what his estimate is of the number of infected bodies removed by the funeral industry from NHS hospitals and other premises in each of the last five years;[115479]

(3)if he will list the differences between the regulations and arrangements for the notification of infected bodies in various parts of the UK; and if he will make a statement. [115478]

Miss Melanie Johnson

I refer my hon. Friend to the response given to him by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health on 11 March 2003,Official Report, columns 233–34W, in which it was confirmed that the Department has had contact with the Funeral Directors Professional Association and confirmed that we would keep them informed of any guidance that might be produced on the issue.

Data on the number of infected bodies removed by the funeral industry from national health service hospitals and other premises are not available centrally, but may be available from local NHS trusts.

Guidance issued by the Health and Safety Commission's Health Service Advisory Committee, "Safer Working and the Prevention of Infection in the Mortuary and Post Mortem Room", applies to all NHS premises in England, Scotland and Wales as does all health and safety legislation under which notification of infected bodies falls. Legislation is slightly different in Northern Ireland, but covers the same issues as in the rest of the United Kingdom. In Wales new guidance will be issued shortly regarding notification by doctors to undertakers and mortuary staff of bodies that have harboured infectious diseases.

The Department will take advantage of new occupational health and safety guidance to be published in the autumn of this year to draw the Health and Safety

All practitioners l by ageband, in Essex SHA and Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority, as at 31 March 2002 (by April 2002 boundaries)
Numbers (headcount)
Total Under 40 40–64 65 plus Unknown
England total 32,011 10,359 21,079 572 1
Essex SHA
5GR Basildon PCT 56 12 40 4
5GP Billericay, Brentwood and Wickford PCT 76 23 51 2
5JP Castle Point and Rochford PCT 76 10 61 5
5JN Chelmsford PCT 73 22 50 1
5GM Colchester PCT 93 19 74
5AJ Epping Forest PCT 59 24 34 1
5DC Harlow PCT 49 13 36
5GL Maldon and South Chelmsford PCT 42 7 35
5AK Southend on Sea PCT 85 11 71 3
5AH Tendering PCT 71 13 56 2
5GQ Thurrock PCT 68 13 51 4
5GN Uttlesford PCT 53 17 36
4MH24 Witham, Braintree and Halstead PCT 73 16 57
Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA
5JL Broadland PCT 80 21 59
5JH Cambridge City PCT 104 33 71
5JT Central Suffolk PCT 61 21 40
5JK East Cambridgeshire and Fenland PCT 98 38 60
5GT Great Yarmouth PCT 56 14 42
5GF Huntingdonshire PCT 101 37 64
5JQ Ipswich PCT 88 28 60
5JM North Norfolk PCT 76 32 43 1
5AF North Peterborough PCT 56 5 49 2
5A2 Norwich PCT 97 35 61 1
5JJ South Cambridgeshire PCT 71 25 45 1
SAG South Peterborough PCT 58 14 44
5G1 Southern Norfolk PCT 126 34 92
5JR Suffolk Coastal PCT 69 20 49
5JW Suffolk West PCT 148 46 102
5JV Waveney PCT 79 15 63 1
5CY West Norfolk PCT 94 24 70


1 All Practitioners include CMS Unrestricted Principals, PMS Contracted GPs, PMS Salaried GPs, Restricted Principals, Assistants, GP Registrars, Salaried Doctors (Para 52 SFA), PMS Other and GP Retainers.

"—" Denotes zero


Department of Health General and Personal Medical Services Statistics