George Freeman backs drive for patient safety

George Freeman outlines Government support for a Private Member’s Bill that puts patient safety first with better integration of health and social care services.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (George Freeman): I am delighted that this important Bill appears to have cross-party support. I strongly support it, as do the Government, and I pay tribute to the tireless commitment shown by my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) to the cause of public safety. I think that I speak for the whole House—although many Members are not present this morning—when I say that he has commanded all our respect in campaigning so tirelessly, with such good grace and diligence, and with cross-party support to ensure that the lessons of the appalling tragedy at Mid-Staffs are properly learned. He has demonstrated the integrity of that work again today, which is reflected in the degree of support for the Bill.

Let me begin by echoing the support that my hon. Friend expressed for Julie Bailey, my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) and Ken Lownds, all of whom have done a huge amount of work behind the schemes in support of the Bill and the wider cause of patient safety. My hon. Friend spoke extremely powerfully about the 4,000 unavoidable deaths and the many thousands more unavoidable incidents of harm. Such incidents will, of course, be avoidable if we are better equipped to track, monitor and collect data in the way that is proposed in the Bill, and to develop the culture of transparency and accountability for which it provides.

My hon. Friend spoke about the concept of zero avoidable harm, which sits at the heart of the Bill, and spoke particularly powerfully about the culture of health and safety. In the aviation and nuclear industries, as we heard from the hon. Member for Copeland (Mr Reed), it is a culture that involves actively looking out for near misses, and actively welcoming the reporting of problems by staff members from top to bottom of an organisation as soon as they have been identified, that has enabled those industries to develop such exemplary health and safety records. One of the great lessons that emerges, loud and clear, from the Francis report is the need for a change of culture.

My hon. Friend referred to the science of safety and the elimination of variability from the system, and to the good work that is being done in this country, not least as a result of the Francis report. That is another example of an area in which the NHS is leading in global medicine. He also spoke of the importance of integrating information and data. His account of the journey made by his constituent Janet Powell as she helped to escort her mother across the health and care landscape will have resonated with many Members. It certainly resonated with me, because over the last 18 months I have been in a similar position, supporting my own mother through a journey from primary care to hospital care to community care in Norfolk. As many Members and many millions of carers outside will know from experience, it is often the carers, parents and loved ones of patients who are carrying the best information about the patient through the system. That information is often too slow and does not keep up with the patient on their journey.

My hon. Friend spoke very powerfully about the risk-averse attitude to sharing information. That is a problem, and the Government are committed to trying to tackle it. That is another reason why we are supporting this Bill. Key to that, as my hon. Friend touched on, are the recommendations of Dame Fiona Caldicott, and I am delighted that she has agreed to take a lead role and to accept the invitation of the Secretary of State to look at the safeguards we need to be putting in place across the whole of the NHS and Department of Health care and data provisions. That will help provide a strong degree of reassurance to both Members in the House and people outside that patient concerns about confidentiality are being met.

My hon. Friend also spoke very powerfully about his support for health care professionals, and I would like to put on record my support for his comments about the NHS staff who are in Africa on the front line of the fight against Ebola. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.

We also heard from a number of other Members who spoke very powerfully. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) was kind enough to congratulate me on my role in managing to get the data-sharing measures included in this Bill. They were raised before this House in my ten-minute rule Bill, which fell, but I am delighted to see those measures picked up in this Bill.

My hon. Friend also spoke very powerfully about the NHS as a bedrock of British society, and I could not agree more. He made some interesting points, too, about the difference between the science of health care and the human and compassionate and cultural side of health care, which this Bill goes right to the heart of. That has always been a great strength of the NHS, which in its founding charter is a scientific and research-led organisation, and which has always put compassionate care at the very top of its mission.

My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) spoke very powerfully and again paid tribute to both the NHS and its staff. She also spoke about the importance of transparency and of there being public confidence in the data confidentiality aspects of this Bill and more generally across the health care system.

I was pleased by the tone and spirit of the speech of the hon. Member for Copeland and to hear that there is cross-party support for this Bill. Although parliamentary time is short in this Session, I think that with that support this Bill has every chance of reaching the statute book.

I was particularly pleased to hear the hon. Gentleman’s powerful—and personal—support for the importance of data sharing in 21st-century health care. He rightly highlighted Salford as a beacon of what can be achieved, and that stands as a tribute to the NHS in the north-west, which is leading the way in the use of informatics and medical data for both research and treatment.

The hon. Gentleman also spoke powerfully about his personal experience as a diabetic patient, and about his reliance now on data as a patient and his active embrace of telehealth and the use of smartphones. He also spoke very powerfully about how that is allowing him to have better control of his condition. Patient empowerment, through data and electronic health records and putting in place a landscape so that patient medical information flows with the patient and reflects the patient journey across the system, is key to both this Bill and the Government’s wider proposals for building the integration of health and care and a 21st-century model of the NHS in which health care moves from being something done to patients when the system is able to do it to a system in which active health citizens are empowered and enabled and encouraged to take more responsibility for their health care so they can drive through the system in the way that suits them.

We might not have a packed House here on this Friday morning, but we have certainly packed in the arguments. We have heard a lot of high-quality contributions. I want to talk about the thinking behind the Bill and answer some of the key questions that have been raised. The need to maintain minimum levels of quality much more consistently was put into sharp focus by the landmark public inquiry report, published in February 2013, on the terrible, shocking and serious failings in the care provided at the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. I think everyone in the House would accept that the subsequent Francis report shook the health system to its core. Francis’s call for a fundamental culture change across the entire health and social care system that would put patients first at all times still resonates loudly in this Chamber and throughout the health and care debate.

Sir Robert Francis QC, the chair of the inquiry, made a compelling call for action across six core themes: culture; compassionate care; leadership; standards; information; and openness, transparency and candour. That is a checklist that all of us who are involved in health care need to keep close at hand. The inquiry represented a watershed in our thinking on safe and better care. That in turn is driving a culture change across the NHS as we resolve never again to allow the system to fail patients and service users in the shocking way that it did.

The Government published their response to Robert Francis’s public inquiry on 19 November 2013. That response, “Hard Truths: The Journey to Putting Patients First”, demonstrates the Government’s commitment to creating a culture of openness, with greater accountability and a relentless focus on safety in an NHS that puts compassion at its heart. In response to the events at Mid Staffs, to Robert Francis’s recommendations and to Don Berwick’s excellent review of improving patient safety, the Government have already introduced a number of measures to improve safety. First, a new statutory of candour on providers will help to ensure that patients are given the truth when things go wrong and that honesty and transparency are the norm in every organisation. This new duty will be overseen by the Care Quality Commission. It will come into force for all NHS bodies soon and for other registered providers by April 2015. We expect staff to reflect the duty in their everyday activity.

An organisation is made up of its staff, and providers will be expected to implement the new duty through staff across their organisation. Training and education of staff will also support the establishment of an open culture. The General Medical Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the other professional regulators will introduce a new explicit and consistent professional duty of candour, making clear a requirement to be open, whether the incident is serious or not.

Secondly, the Secretary of State announced in March a new Sign Up to Safety campaign, a platform on which all NHS organisations and patients can share, learn and improve ideas for reducing harm and saving lives. It was launched in June, and health care leaders have been invited to set out what their organisations will do to strengthen patient safety, including by producing a safety improvement plan. Sign Up to Safety aims to achieve much more than just the numbers of NHS organisations joining; it is about motivating participants actively to get involved. The campaign will go beyond institutions and seek to sign up as many individual NHS staff as possible, and everyone who chooses to join will commit to the new patient safety ambition.

In order to realise the Berwick report’s vision of the NHS as an organisation devoted to continual learning and improvement, NHS England and NHS Improving Quality have established a new national patient safety collaborative programme. This will spread best practice, build skills and capabilities in patient safety and improvement science, and focus on actions that can make the biggest difference to patients in every part of the country. The safety collaboratives will be supported to systematically tackle the leading causes of harm to patients. The programme will include establishing a patient safety improvement fellowship scheme to develop 5,000 fellows in a national faculty within five years.

We are absolutely committed to changing the culture of patient safety through investment in leadership. NHS England is now working with The Health Foundation to help develop proposals for a safety fellowship initiative. The NHS is on a transparency journey, through the NHS Choices patient safety section, to become completely open and transparent. More information about our local health services is now more publicly available than ever before. As well as using the information to drive improvements, it is vital that a patient or member of the public can easily find and understand what it says about their local health services.

In June, NHS Choices began publishing new and existing information in a new safety section, complementing the wealth of information available about our hospitals and wards. It specifically provides information on: nurse staffing levels, including at ward level; infection control and cleanliness; CQC national standards; whether the unit is recommended by staff to their relatives and friends; patients assessed for risk of blood clots; the response to patient safety alerts; and open and honest reporting. The NHS is one of the safest health care systems in the world but there is always scope to improve health care standards universally and reduce avoidable harm further. That is why the Secretary of State for Health set the ambition to reduce avoidable harm by half and save 6,000 lives over the next three years.

As well as the devastating effect that health harms can have upon patients, service users and, as hon. Members have mentioned, their carers and families, a recent report by Frontier Economics has estimated that poor care could be costing the NHS up to £2.5 billion every year. That is why the Government have thrown their full support behind this important Bill, which will do much to improve the safety of patients.

Jeremy Lefroy: I am grateful to the Minister for the argument he is developing. Does he agree that the Bill is vital for staff? They do not want to be involved in instances of avoidable harm; it preys on their minds and can blight their careers. If the institutions to which they belong are not seeking to avoid harm, it is often the professionals, rather than the institution, who carry the can, and that is not right.

George Freeman: As ever, my hon. Friend makes an incredibly powerful point. An institution is only as strong as the staff within it, and when an institution is not taking seriously an issue that the staff confront as a daily reality, it puts them in an impossible position. He rightly says that by changing the culture of the institution, NHS staff will be able to do their jobs more easily and with more confidence, safe in the knowledge that when they raise issues that may be of concern, whether or not there is in fact a risk, they will be welcomed and supported. That culture change is vital if we are going to turn things around in the way that we are committed to doing.

There are three key sets of provisions in the Bill: the ones that will mandate patient safety as a key requirement of CQC registration; the provisions ensuring the integration of data across the health and care pathway; and the provisions dealing with the regulation of professional standards. They represent real and significant steps to support and develop patient safety in the NHS, and we are delighted to support them. Let me deal with each of the three in turn.

On the CQC requirements to include safety, clause 1 is central to the Bill’s focus on safety and quality, and, in particular, the elimination of the avoidable harm that flows from the provision of poor care in health and adult social care services. Safety is paramount and must be the focus of care providers at all times. The experience at Mid Staffs underlines the importance of that and of what can happen when providers put other priorities before safety. The CQC’s role in protecting patients is vital, and safety and the avoidance of harm are key elements of the CQC’s regulation of providers, in two key ways. First, monitoring registered providers against safety requirements and taking enforcement action when the requirements are not met is central to the CQC’s objective to protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of people who use services.

Jeremy Lefroy: Does the Minister also agree that the Bill’s provisions, in seeking to get that focus right to the top and make it the responsibility of the Secretary of State, ensure that, right here in this House, patient safety is of the essence?

George Freeman: My hon. Friend makes another important point about the role of leadership in the culture change that we are seeking to drive. I believe all hon. Members would acknowledge the Secretary of State’s personal commitment to this crusade for patient safety, and it is symptomatic of the level of leadership that is required. If the leader—the accountable senior executive—in every trust and organisation in the NHS makes clear their personal commitment to this agenda, it helps to change the culture and to create the conditions in which the reporting of patient safety issues and concerns is welcomed and encouraged.

Safety is also a critical component of the CQC’s new inspection regime and one of the five key questions the chief inspectors ask when rating the quality of services. Currently, it is at the Secretary of State’s discretion as to whether registration requirements should cover safety of care. Clause 1 removes that discretion and instead places a duty on the Secretary of State to impose registration requirements about safety of care. We welcome that duty, because it absolutely fits with the Government’s wider commitment to putting patient safety right at the heart of our health and care system. The duty will cover all providers registered with the CQC across health and, importantly, adult social care, and will help ensure that no avoidable harm will come to patients and service users when they are being provided with a regulated service. It is important to say at this point that the duty will not place an obligation on the Secretary of State to ensure that care or treatment is risk-free—no Secretary of State could ever give that undertaking. Health care provision is of its nature a risky business and can be so. Chemotherapy, for example, saves lives but can have significant side effects. A test of reasonableness must be applied in assessing whether harm is avoidable. The registration requirements that are before Parliament do cover safety and will allow the CQC to take action against poor providers in a way that has not been possible up to now. The Government therefore welcome the clause, which reinforces what the regulations are seeking to achieve and will ensure that the key message of safety and harm reduction runs consistently through the CQC regulation, and across the system as a whole, for years to come.

Clauses 2 and 3 deal with the key changes requiring a common identifier and imposing the duty to inform other health care professionals along the care pathway. Far too often in health care system, patients lead and their information follows and, particularly as patients migrate between primary, hospital and community care, they and often their loved ones are left driving the patient journey without access to the necessary information. Too often, the health care professionals do not have access to the very latest information on the treatment that their patient has received in another part of our health and care system. That is why we welcome the clauses.

Clauses 2 and 3 concern the sharing of information by providers and commissioners to support people’s direct care and treatment, as an essential part of the delivery of safe, effective and high-quality care. The sharing of timely, accurate and relevant information facilitates the provision of integrated care and treatment tailored to people’s needs and wishes, yet we know that that sharing does not always happen as it should. Anxiety about information governance and data protection can stifle the sharing of information between staff and organisations working together to care for an individual. Clauses 2 and 3 will require that providers and commissioners of publicly funded health and adult social care share the information which is so essential to the delivery of safe and high-quality care. That will relate only to the way in which information is shared by organisations directly involved in an individual’s direct care.

Clause 2 places a duty on providers and commissioners, within scope, to record and use consistent identifiers in people’s health and care records and correspondence. There is a requirement to include the identifier when sharing information with other organisations directly involved in that individual’s care. Clause 3—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. May I say to the Minister that he does not need to explain the whole Bill; the promoter has already done that. The Government have said that they support the Bill, so I am at a bit of a loss as to why the Minister does not appear to be giving us any new information, but is reiterating what has already been said. Perhaps he could clarify some things a bit more, but we do not need a commentary on every clause.

George Freeman: I completely understand, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I do not intend to give you a commentary on every line of the Bill; that happens in Committee. However, given that the Government are supporting this private Member’s Bill, I thought it was important that, as part of our wider commitment, I set out why and on what basis we are supporting it, and give some guidance to the House on where in Committee there may be differences and where and why the Government are taking the view that they are. None the less, I will heed your comments and ensure that I keep my remarks at an appropriate high level.

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. I absolutely agree with the Minister. We would be interested to hear any qualifications from the Government and where they were, as that would give the House time to consider what will be occurring in Committee. I look forward to hearing him say that.

George Freeman: It is important to recognise that clauses 2 and 3 relate only to how information is shared by organisations involved in an individual’s direct care. My hon. Friend made the point that this Bill is solely focused on the needs of the patient; it is not in any way about the Government or the NHS seeking to collect information for any other purpose other than to ensure that patient care is first and foremost in the system.

Clause 3 places an express duty on direct care providers and commissioners of publicly funded health and adult social care. When providing care to an individual, organisations within scope would be required to ensure that the relevant information is shared with staff within their organisation, and also within other organisations along the care pathway, where it is in the individual’s best interests. That duty would apply only if it directly facilitated the individual’s care and if it was in his or her best interest. That will not only support the delivery of safe, effective and integrated care, but improve people’s experience of their care and support, sparing them the frustration of having to tell their story over and over again as they move along the care pathway.

Simply sharing is not enough. To fully realise the benefits of sharing information, it is vital that the information shared is accurate, relevant and timely. In order to provide safe and high quality care, especially where it is urgent or where multiple care teams are involved, information needs to follow the person, so that professionals can access the right information at the right time. Using a consistent identifier is essential to that aim, as it ensures that the information being shared relates to the right individual.

A number of people have asked about the common identifier. Clause 2 places a duty on the Secretary of State to make regulations that will specify the consistent identifier to be used. It is the intention of the Government that the prescribed identifier should be the NHS number.

The universal use of the NHS number is a long-standing priority of the Department. Ensuring that records include a person’s NHS number, especially when they move between providers on their care pathway, is vital to the safety and quality of care. A number of Members asked about our view of the appropriate identifier. We believe that consistent use of the NHS number will facilitate the co-ordination of care, reduce errors and support the integration of records.

Ensuring a reliable and seamless transfer of information is all the more vital when the patient is a vulnerable person. That vulnerable person could be an elderly patient with dementia and many complex needs, for whom large institutions can be difficult to navigate at the best of times. I must stress that these duties are strictly limited to sharing for direct care purposes, with only those organisations directly involved in the provision of care, and only where it is in the patient’s interests.

Let me be clear: this will not permit or require sharing of information for any other purpose. The duty would not apply where there were good reasons for it not to apply. Such reasons could include: when an individual objects to his or her information being shared, or to his or her NHS number being used; where the individual would be likely to object; or when an individual receives, or may receive, services, such as sexual health services, anonymously.

Jeremy Lefroy: Should this Bill command the support of this House on Second Reading, does the Minister agree that one thing we would need to consider in Committee is this real issue of the mixing up of personal information and patient information within records? How best that can be addressed will require quite a lot of discussion.

George Freeman: My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. As he is aware, there are a number of initiatives on data across the health and care system, which is why the Secretary of State has appointed Dame Fiona Caldicott to advise the Government and to look at the pilots that NHS England is currently running on the care.data programme. It is important that the data provisions of this Bill and the confidentiality provisions and guarantees are closely examined in Committee and that there is no confusion over the purposes for which the data provisions are being used, which are solely to do with patient safety.

Clause 4 creates a power for the Secretary of State to make regulations to exclude certain persons or their functions that would take them outside the scope of the new duties for continuity of information. The Government intend to make regulations that will exclude providers and commissioners of children’s social care and providers and commissioners of children’s health care within the Department for Education’s purview. Those exclusions will include local authorities and other organisations exercising educational functions and children’s social service functions, children’s homes and residential family centres, fostering and adoption support agencies and certain schools, nurseries and educational institutions. I am delighted to tell the House that the Department of Health and the Department for Education are working together to support information sharing and use of the NHS number, where appropriate, by those organisations.

The use of patient data can arouse significant public concern and controversy and lead to highly charged debates. The public rightly expect to see their data held securely and used only for their benefit. That sits full square at the heart of these proposals, which is why NHS England has taken back the care.data proposals to review, revise and pilot, and why we have appointed Dame Fiona Caldicott. The information-sharing provisions of this Bill are solely concerned with the sharing of information between health and care providers where it is in an individual’s direct care interests.

To summarise, the consistent patient identifier and information-sharing provisions will support three key things: better informed care decisions, leading to care and treatment being better tailored to people’s needs and preferences, and better health and care outcomes; safer care, with a reduced likelihood of errors, adverse events and sub- optimal care stemming from a lack of information;, and improved experience of care, with individuals being called upon less often to repeat their story, and having increased confidence that the person caring for them has all the information that they need.

Let me turn now to the third and final section of the Bill, which deals with the regulation for the Professional Standards Authority and the professional regulator. We welcome these clauses, which will bring in a consistent objective for the PSA and for the regulators of certain health and care professionals, including dentists, nurses, midwives and opticians.

That will ensure that public protection is at the heart of what the regulators do. This measure is about not changing what the PSA or the professional regulators do in relation to professional regulation, but ensuring a coherent, strategic approach by them in the performance of their functions. Patients and the public need to understand the role and purpose of the organisations that regulate our health professionals in order to have confidence in what the regulators do. Having clear and consistent objectives is vital to that.

Let me touch now on the automatic erasure provisions, which my hon. Friend said had been withdrawn. The intent of the policy is to enable the regulators automatically to erase from a professional register individuals tried and convicted of certain serious crimes. However, it would be necessary to amend the existing statutory framework for each of the regulators properly to achieve the policy and would result in a Bill that is much longer and more complex than is usually acceptable for a private Member’s Bill. In the light of that, and given the complexity of the drafting required to achieve the policy, we took the position that automatic erasure should not be taken forward.

Automatic erasure was one of the areas considered by the Law Commission in its review of the regulation of health professionals. The Government remain committed to legislating on this important issue at the earliest opportunity. We have explored all other possible legislative options for taking forward issues arising from that piece of work and therefore propose to take forward automatic erasure in a future parliamentary Session alongside other measures in response to the Law Commission’s review. The long title of the Bill, which sets its scope, specifically mentions the intention to provide for automatic erasure, but I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford has indicated his intention to table an amendment in Committee to remove that from the long title.

When I talk to people about the Bill, I am asked one or two key questions, which I believe those watching the debate will want to hear us answer, and which the hon. Member for Copeland (Mr Reed) has asked me to deal with. The first is, “Are my medical records already shared with others involved in my care?” Unfortunately, the sharing of information about one’s care is not as widespread in the system as it needs to be. Those who use the NHS the most often are often those who have the most to remember. It can be very frustrating for health professionals, and too often that lack of information is involved in the misdiagnosis and the mistakes that my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford spoke of.

The second question that we are often asked is, “Don’t these regulators already put patient safety at the heart of everything they do?” The CQC and the professional regulators are all there primarily to protect us. The measures in the Bill are not a reflection of any failure in that respect. However, these organisations are given legitimacy through legislation; their remit and ability to act are defined in law, and it is important, we believe, that their legislative basis is explicit about their respective roles and duties in public safety. It is not our intention that the Bill, if it becomes law, should result in a dramatic change to the way that the regulators operate on a day-to-day basis. We know that they are already focused on patient safety. The Bill enshrines that focus and ensures that those organisations are never hindered in their important work.

The Bill is a big step forward. I urge hon. Members from both sides of the House to support it.

Later in the year, we shall publish a comprehensive update on achievements to date and the progress towards Sir Robert Francis’s vision of a system delivering safe, compassionate care.

The events at Mid Staffs were a shocking reminder of the systemic failings in patient safety and care that occur when the culture and practice of healthcare institutions cease to prioritise the human, the compassionate and the cultural aspects of health care. I am delighted to support the Bill, which fits very well with the Secretary of State’s crusade for accountability, transparency and patient safety. It complements the measures that we are putting in place, as a Government, to support patient empowerment, to integrate health and care, and to meet the need for seamless information that follows patients, rather than patients so often traversing the care pathway without that information to hand.

There are two other questions that I was—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. With respect to the Minister, I spoke to him nearly 15 minutes ago with regard to his comments on the Bill. He has now been speaking for 37 minutes to tell us how much the Government agree with the Bill. There are other Bills to be debated this morning. I tried asking the Minister very nicely and gently. Now I am saying to the Minister directly that it is not his job to use up time in the House. Could he please conclude what are the major points on the Bill?

George Freeman: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have concluded my prepared remarks. I just want to deal, if I may, with the questions that were asked of me in the House.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): With respect to the Minister, he should have integrated those into his remarks on the Bill, because I presume he was listening to the comments of the other speakers. He has now been speaking for nearly as long as the rest of the debate, and this is not really acceptable, Minister, given that there are other Bills to be debated this morning, and that this Bill seems to have the wholehearted support of the Department. The word succinct must be in the Minister’s mind, which means brief, and I will interrupt him again if he is not.

George Freeman: Thank you for that clarification, Madam Deputy Speaker. In that case, perhaps it would be appropriate for me to list the questions now and then deal with them by writing to Members.

There were important questions about the Law Commission, some of which I have addressed, but I will write more fully. The hon. Member for Copeland asked me about the duty of candour dropped under pressure from professionals. If he is happy, I will drop him a line on that. The hon. Gentleman also asked about the care.data issue. I think I have dealt with that in my comments, but he should feel free to contact me if there are any omissions. There were important comments about the BMA, Madam Deputy Speaker, which I am taking your guidance to mean I should not address. Its briefing arrived on my desk this morning, and obviously I will look at it very carefully and write to Members with our position on the concerns that it has raised, although I note that its report also seems to have a lot of support for the intent of the Bill.

Lastly, there was a question about making data sharing much more consistent. I want to confirm that the Department of Health is working with our partners, and will produce guidance to support compliance across the system.

On that basis, Madam Deputy Speaker, following your guidance, I express again our support for this important measure and resume my seat.

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