Proposals contained in the Public Health (Scotland) Bill have today been endorsed by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.
In a report published today, Members of the committee have recommended the Parliament agree the bill’s general principles: to restate and amend the law on public health protection, statutory nuisances and provision of mortuaries.
However, they have made a series of recommendations about how the proposals could be improved to ensure the correct balance between public health priorities and the rights of individuals. Amongst these, the committee has called for the bill to include a right of appeal against compulsory medical examination. The bill currently proposes that a person suspected of having an infectious disease, where there is a significant risk to public health, may be medically examined, quarantined or detained in hospital.
Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP, said:
"We live in times where people travel more – and to more places – than ever before. Against that background and in the light of outbreaks such as E coli at home and SARS around the globe, this bill will put Scotland’s house in order. The committee views these provisions as necessary, given the context of global biosecurity and international co-operation.”
The main points in the report are as follows:
- calls for the inclusion of simplified legal procedures;
- calls for arrangements to ensure the appropriate sharing of information between relevant bodies;
- will scrutinise likely stage 2 amendments to extend the provisions for sun bed parlour operators by outlawing unsupervised use of sun beds and use of sun beds by the under-18s
- calls for the bill to include a right of appeal against compulsory medical examination and
- suggests that exemptions to the requirement to provide explanations for compulsory medical examinations be subject to the caveat that these are given as soon as practically possible.
The Scottish Government introduced the Public Health etc. (Scotland) Bill on 25 October 2007. The Health and Sport Committee issued an open call for evidence and received over 50 responses. In early 2008, the Committee undertook a programme of oral evidence-taking, including a round-table discussion with medical experts and representatives of local authorities.