Aviation: Health

House of Lords written question – answered on 30th March 2006.

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Photo of Baroness Wilcox Baroness Wilcox Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, Constitutional Affairs, Shadow Minister, Work & Pensions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements are in place to publicise the work of the inter-departmental Aviation Health Working Group and the Civil Aviation Authority's Aviation Health Unit, in particular (a) the aviation health matters considered by those bodies; (b) their consequent recommendations and conclusions; and (c) the action taken on those recommendations by those to whom they are addressed.

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

There are no special publicity arrangements for the work of the cross-departmental Aviation Health Working Group (AHWG) because meetings are attended by external stakeholders, who include:

BALPA—British Airline Pilots Association

BAR UK—Board of Airline Representatives UK

BATA—British Air Transport Association

AUC—Air Transport Users Council

TGWUTransport and General Workers Union

BA—British Airways

UKFSC—UK Flight Safety Committee

The head of the Aviation Health Unit (AHU) attends AHWG meetings and uses them to report to these stakeholders. Copies of the notes of meetings will be placed on the department's website.

The AHWG agreed the following terms of reference:

The Aviation Health Working Group will meet on a regular basis and will work in partnership with other interested parties to give effect to the government response to the House of Lords inquiry into air travel and health. Particular responsibilities identified in the response are to:

provide a forum for interested government departments and agencies to consider issues relevant to aviation health; provide an interface with the air transport industry, health experts and other interested parties on aviation health issues of mutual interest; evaluate the need for research into issues related to air travel and health, and consider the role of government in supporting such research; ensure Ministers are kept informed and receive comprehensive advice on aviation health matters; and monitor developments that impinge on the health of those travelling by air.

The initial focus of the work of the AHWG was to produce government-approved advice on the risks of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) for air travellers. To this end the Government provided funding with the European Commission to conduct research to assess whether there is a direct link between air travel and the incidence of DVT. The summary results of this research, which was carried out by a consortium of medical research scientists under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, was published on the department's website on 21 December last year. The publication can be viewed at www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft–mobility/documents/page/dft–mobility–610897.hcsp.

The AHWG has asked the independent Committee on Toxicity to review the evidence relating to cabin air contamination during fume events. This will help to identify the way forward on research and/or monitoring in this area.

The group has also given consideration to other aviation health matters such as research into the use of aspirin for the prevention of DVT; medical equipment on board aircraft; and provision of supplementary oxygen to passengers.

On the issue of recommendations, the terms of reference of the group specify the provision of advice to government. The group was not set up to make recommendations independent of government.

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