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1979-1987 : Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Blindness

Below is the text of Mr Major's written Parliamentary Answer on Blindness on 10th April 1987.


Mr. Galley Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has taken any decision on the proposals to revise and simplify the form BD8 used for certifying blindness and partial sight.

Mr. Major I am now able to announce the outcome of the Department's consultation exercise on the revision of the BD8 form. We have decided that the form should be revised along the lines originally proposed by the Department, that is restricted to a simple certificate of blindness/partial sight containing no clinical information. A separate anonymised epidemiological return will be made to central Government.

In reaching this decision we are well aware of the concern of those responsible for follow-up and rehabilitation services for visually handicapped people - particularly social services departments - that they should not be deprived of information through lack of cooperation between the agencies concerned. Detailed inquiries made by the Department in several areas of the country have suggested that co-ordination between local agencies at the critical time when someone is certified as blind or partially sighted, is often not as close as it might be.

In order to improve this situation, and to ensure that service providers receive adequate information, we have decided to establish a working group at national level to consider the principles of collaboration and communication to be observed between the various agencies involved in the provision of rehabilitation services to visually handicapped people. The working group will be chaired by a senior official from the Department, and representatives from health, social services, voluntary and consumer interests will shortly be invited to take part.

While the group will not be considering the content of the BD8 itself, its work will form the basis of guidance to accompany the revised form. The objective of this will be to encourage more effective co-operation between agencies over the way visual handicap is established and follow-up/ rehabilitation services are triggered off. The group will be asked to consider what the resource implications of their recommendations might be.

The chairman will be asked to make his report within 6-9 months of the working group being set up. The current BD8 will be discontinued as soon as the working group's guidelines have been disseminated and the recommended procedures can be brought into effect.

The effect of those changes should be to ensure that medical confidentiality is not breached, but that social services departments and other service providers are nevertheless able to obtain the specific information they need in order to provide their respective services in the most effective way.