HC Deb 28 November 1985 vol 87 cc644-5W
Mr. Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what information he has as to the provision made for research and development of new orthotic and prosthetic aids in the public and private sectors, respectively; what information he has as to the cash outlays made in each category over the last five years; what new aids have emerged on the market as a result; and how the research and development is monitored.

Mr. Newton

Information about the progress in each year of research and development work (R and D) which would benefit the disabled carried out on behalf of any Minister of the Crown is collected by the Department and published in the report to Parliament under section 22 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. These reports include work on the development of new prosthetic and orthotic aids. Details of R and D in the fields commissioned directly by any Department are also published annually in the DHSS handbook of research and development. These commissions, which include the support of research units at bioengineering centre University College London, orthotics research and locomotor assessment unit and Chailey heritage, are let under the auspices of the supply research liaison group. This is a body of senior officials and outside advisers who are responsible for determining the needs and approving the research. Individual projects are monitored by departmental officials.

The cash outlay on R and D into artificial limbs and external orthoses in each of the last five years was:

1980–81 586,000
1981–82 1,068,000
1982–83 1,412,000
1983–84 1,382,000
1984–85 1,333,000

This was almost wholly spent in public sector establishments.

New aids which have resulted from the commissioned research are the swivel walker, hip guidance orthoses, Cherwell orthoses, moulded seating, external fracture fixator, rapid-form socket manufacture for artificial limbs.

In addition, some limb manufacturers undertake research and development which is in part financed by the Department through the contracts let for the supply of artificial limbs. The expenditure borne by the Department for this purpose was in the years concerned:

1980 370,000
1981 585,000
1982 665,000
1983 672,000
1984 1,083,000

Successful development by these manufacturers—not necessarily related to the expenditure in the years listed—are the myoelectric hand, lightweight modular artificial legs, moulded plastics feet and a moulded four bar knee unit.

We have no information about other R and D provision in the private sector.