HC Deb 02 September 2003 vol 410 cc5-6W
Dr. Evan Harris

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made towards training(a) general practitioners, (b) staff at NHS Direct and (c) accident and emergency staff to spot outbreaks of infectious diseases. [122103]

Mr. Hutton

Training is long established for health care workers to respond to routine outbreaks of infectious diseases. Since 11 September 2001, training to spot outbreaks of infectious diseases caused by the deliberate release of biological agents has increased. This has included educational articles in national and international medical journals, authoritative and up-to-date advice on the Department of Health and Health Protection Agency's web-sites and seminars/conferences for specific groups of healthcare workers. These seminars follow the principle of "Training the Trainer" and will be cascaded to other health care professionals. More are planned this year. Training for a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident is now the responsibility of the Health Protection Agency [HPA].

For general practitioners, a conference was organised by the Department of Health and the Royal College of General Practitioners in early July.

All NHS Direct staff have been trained in the rationale, mechanism and importance of their surveillance programme, set up to detect outbreaks of infectious diseases. Analysts have been trained to deliver daily surveillance reports and a training module is being developed, in collaboration with the HPA, on emergency planning.

Accident and emergency staff have been trained through seminars for example 'Silent Weapons' and advanced life support group training.