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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 12:57 GMT
NHS to get 'dirty bomb' detectors
Ministers say the NHS is well-prepared
NHS hospitals and ambulance crews are to get radiation equipment to enable them to detect dirty bombs.

The move is part of government efforts to ensure the NHS and other emergency services can cope in the event of a major terrorist attack.

Ministers have previously announced plans to install detectors in ports and airports. Equipment is also going to police and fire officers.

The government says the steps are being taken as a precaution.

Radiation exposure

Under the plans, every A&E department in the country will receive monitors to enable doctors to see if any patient admitted following an attack has been exposed to radiation.

Ambulance crews will be issued with personal radiation dosimeters to enable them to test for radiation at the scene of an incident.

We will continue to review and adapt these measures
Beverley Hughes,
Home Office Minister
Officials are also looking at whether equipment used by the military to detect the release of chemicals can be adapted for use in hospitals and by emergency response teams.

Extra money is also being made available to ensure NHS staff are fully trained to deal with the aftermath of any attack.

A&E staff are being sent on two-day courses to bring them up to speed on the biological agents that could be used by terrorists.

GPs are being sent "clinical action cards", which aim to help them to treat patients caught up in a biological attack.

Hospital consultants specialising in communicable and infectious diseases are to receive extra training to ensure they are also up-to-date.

The NHS has also received thousands of protection suits for key staff for use in the event of a attack.

The plans are outlined in a document called The Scientific Response to Terrorism, which was produced in response to a report by the Commons science and technology committee last year.

Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes said the government would keep its plans to deal with an attack under review.

"Our security arrangements are regarded by experts as among the most disciplined and highly co-ordinated in the world.

"We will continue to review and adapt these measures to ensure that the public can go about their business with the confidence that everything possible is being done to protect them."

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