2 February 1996

No official OP medical exams

GOVERNMENT has refused to arrange comprehensive medical examinations for organophosphorus sheep dip sufferers.

In a House of Lords debate last week, the Countess of Mar asked junior health minister Baroness Cumberlege to sanction the health checks. But Baroness Cumberlege said anyone suffering chronic ill-health, they ascribed to OP dips, should consult their own doctor.

"The GP can refer them to a consultant with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of illness caused by exposure to chemicals," she added.

The Countess of Mar reminded the minister that dipping with OPs was compulsory between 1975 and 1992 and most people had been affected then.

Was it not fair that they should be seen by a group of consultants who could deal with all of them, she asked? But Baroness Cumberlege repeated that anyone who was ill should go to their GP.

Baroness Jay of Paddington countered that doctors may fail to refer OP sufferers to consultants. But the health minister did not accept that such a problem existed.

"Is the minister aware that there is still tremendous problems with people obtaining a diagnosis from their GPs? Because the Department of Health does not recognise chronic organophosphate poisoning as a medical condition, GPs are reluctant to diagnose it," the Countess said.

She added that patients did not therefore receive the right treatment and could be given inappropriate drugs. She asked the health minister to look again at the situation. The government would continually look at the subject, said Baroness Cumberlege. &#42