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Not so N.I.C.E.

November 18, 2009

Well, there was me thinking that NICE was just about making sure doctors prescribed the most cost-effective drugs to NHS patients only to discover via the ARCH Blog that they want family homes to be inspected to make sure that those containing children, (up to age 15) are fully kitted with home safety equipment including “smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, hot water temperature restrictors, safety gates (including stair gates) and oven, window and door guards and locks”. The Draft Guidance says it is aimed at “reducing unintentional injuries among children and young people living in disadvantaged circumstances”. and recommends identifying and prioritising households at highest risk. Suggested factors to c0nsider are “overcrowding, a low income and [rather obviously] a lack of appropriately installed safety equipment”.  Consideration should be given to setting  up a database to “share information on high-risk households with other statutory agencies. For example, social workers, GPs and health visitors could identify overcrowded dwellings and notify others via a database accessible to all statutory organisations”.

I cannot see why they need a database for this. The Benefits Agency database of those in receipt of Income Support is in effect a list of all family households who are so poverty stricken that they cannot afford both safety equipment and food on the miserable amount of welfare the state grudgingly permits them.

Good news – the Guidance is a draft out for consultation. Bad news – only “stakeholders” are invited to comment and they are the usual, and ever-multiplying arms of government, quangos, vol orgs and academics including Université Libre de Bruxelles (don’t ask). A search of the draft Guidance reveals that the terms “benefits agency”, “income support”, and “poverty” do not occur in the document. Nor, perhaps more worryingly, do the words “privacy” or “confidentiality” or even “data protection”. As ARCH neatly points out; “poverty trumps Article 8”.

Incidentally, anybody know what a hot water temperature restrictor fitted to a domestic bath actually looks like or whether you can get them from B&Q? Checking with RoSPA they say:

The HSE recommendation to prevent Legionella bacteria in water storage systems is to maintain hot water temperatures above 60°C. Scalding can occur above the temperature of 45°C. The DTI leaflet ‘Cool It’ recommends that bath water should not exceed 43°C. So its no good just lowering the temperature of your whole hot water system – that way you avoid being scalded but risk catching  Legionnaire’s Disease.

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