§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps are being taken by his Department to reduce the annual cost of thefts of property from national health service hospitals;
(2) what information he has about the total annual cost of thefts of property from national health service premises;
(3) what steps are taken by his Department to monitor the thefts of property from national health service hospitals.
§ Mr. Dorrell
The summarised accounts of health authorities in England for 1989–90 record a total of £3,413,698 in the category of losses of equipment and property due to theft, fraud or arson, neglect of duty and gross carelessness.
The Department requires health authorities to report the number and value of losses in an annual statement; these statements are audited along with the annual accounts by statutory auditors. Authorities need to seek departmental write-off approval for those cases which involve sums above delegated limits; where theft is suspected the police are required to be notified.
The National Health Service Security Manual which was sent to all health authorities in 1984 was commended by the Department as a good practical guide on matters relating to security of equipment, stock and premises. The National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts is currently updating the manual and the Department has contributed towards the pre-publication costs. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State gave the opening address at a security conference on 7 May, organised by NAHAT, to heighten health authorities' awareness of security issues.