Radiation Workers

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 29th October 2001.

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Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Labour, Chatham and Aylesford 2:30 pm, 29th October 2001

What steps he is taking to monitor the health of radiation workers.

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Veterans)

In accordance with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999, the Ministry of Defence ensures that an appointed doctor reviews at least once every year the health of radiation workers over the age of 18 who are likely to exceed three-tenths of any statutory annual dose limit. Other radiation workers would be subject to a health review only if they exceeded a statutory dose limit, or worked with ionising radiations under conditions laid down by the appointed doctor. Although there is no legal requirement to review the health of former radiation workers, the MOD contributes to the National Registry of Radiation Workers, providing data for epidemiological studies.

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Labour, Chatham and Aylesford

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Since 1984, when Chatham dockyard's nuclear refit facility closed, there has been concern in the Medway towns that many of the facility's former workers could have contracted cancer as a direct result of their work. Progress has been made in terms of compensation and information, and I am grateful for my hon. Friend's assistance on that. However, is he prepared to accept that, until there is further progress in assisting that group of workers, they should have access to the screening process to which he has just referred?

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Veterans)

I should explain that the health monitoring that workers undergo is a form of health promotion and would therefore be of little value to the people that my hon. Friend mentioned. They would be far better placed waiting to see whether they develop symptoms of any kind and going to their own doctor. However, I am well aware of the work that my hon. Friend has put in on behalf of his constituents with such concerns, and I shall be very happy to discuss the matter in depth with him if he so wishes.