Carbon Monoxide: Poisoning

Health written question – answered on 11th September 2013.

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Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what support his Department plans to provide to the charity, Carbon Monoxide Awareness during National Carbon Monoxide Awareness week in November 2013.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Department has no specific plans to provide support to the charity Carbon Monoxide Awareness during Carbon Monoxide Awareness week.

Public Health England (PHE) publishes an annual press release to coincide with Carbon Monoxide (CO) Awareness Week advising people to have their fossil fuel and wood burning appliances such as cookers, heaters and boilers checked by an appropriate registered engineer before winter. PHE is working with the Department on a Chief Medical Officer letter to remind health care professionals of the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning. PHE is also updating its flowchart to assist general practitioners and emergency physicians in diagnosing CO poisoning which will accompany this letter.

PHE and the Department will provide input into the Cross Government Group on Gas Safety Report which is released in November. This report details the work of its members to reduce deaths and injuries from accidental poisoning from CO.

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Tony Brunton
Posted on 3 Oct 2013 2:46 pm (Report this annotation)

The answer from Anna Soubry contains a statement in the last paragraph that PHE and the Department will input into the Gas Safety Report which details the work done by the members of the Cross Party Group to reduce deaths and injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning.

What her response doesn't say is that this year 2013 to date there have been approximately 30 fatalities and over 700 admissions to hospital because of carbon monoxide poisoning with little or no response from the members of the Cross Party Group who were patting each other on the back in November and claiming only one fatal incident involving gas.

They formed the All Fuels Forum last year and the Chair David Kidney said that the purpose of the group was to develop a strategy to reduce and eradicate carbon monoxide poisoning incidents. Obviously based on the information in the above paragraph neither group have been successful in their devising of this successful strategy.

Information coming back from victims suggests that despite the Cross Party Group changing the name from the Gas Safety Group to the Carbon Monoxide Group and forming the All Fuels Forum, actual support and information for victims continues to be conspicuous by its absence and people who are already struggling with something they cannot understand are left to struggle whilst time and effort is wasted in political talking shops.

It has been widely publicised that the cost to the NHS of carbon monoxide poisoning, based on the statistical analysis of English A&E records, is £178 million. Could Anna Soubry tell me if the Minister is content to let this situation continue in light of the significant cost cutting his department is now requiring hospitals to make. If he is I would suggest it is a recipe for disaster and a policy which should be reviewed and amended as soon as possible.