§ Mr. Fraser
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to introduce universal screening of new-born babies for sickle cell disorders and to develop national policies on pain control hospital care and the prevention of crises in people having sickle cell disorders.
§ Mr. Dorrell
It is important that infants affected by sickle cell disease are identified at an early stage so that they can receive appropriate treatment. Screening services are generally offered to those members of the population most likely to be affected—those orginating from Africa, the Mediterranean or middle east. This disease is rare in the indigenous population. It would therefore be unreasonable to screen all new-born babies for the disorder.
In 1988 the Department introduced haemoglobi-nopathy cards which are given to patients with sickle cell disease or thalassaemia with the aim of ensuring that, in an emergency, their condition is identified and that they receive appropriate treatment. The decision on what measures are necessary to control pain and prevent crises is for the individual doctor to make, taking into account his knowledge of the patient and the particular circumstances of the episode. This is a matter of clinical judgment.