What progress can be made on better air extraction, air cleaning and ultraviolet filtration in hospitals?

Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (Wokingham) (Con): I welcome the change of policy. In order to reassure both patients and staff about safety, what progress can the Secretary of State report to the House on better air extraction, air cleaning and ultraviolet filtration? I think that we need to control the virus without telling people exactly what they have to do in their own health treatments.

Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Health and Social Care): As always, my right hon. Friend has asked a very good question. He will know that infection protection control measures have been in place during the pandemic; they change along with the pandemic over time, depending on the risk profile, and that applies to care settings. The Government have supported care homes with hundreds of millions of pounds to make adaptations and changes and to implement these measures, and I know that many care settings have taken advantage of those funds to provide, for instance, air filtration and ventilation. That is the kind of support that the Government will continue to give.


  1. Javelin
    February 1, 2022

    I read that lavatories and rooms where people changed their clothes were the only places that high levels of viruses were found. One due to air fans blowing moisture. The other due to clothes being pulled off.

    This begs the question – what level of viral particles is the threshold that people catch the virus?

    Then there is the other piece of research that said Omicron had 70 x as many viral particles in the upper lung. Which if you remember your maths it means particles (like sound) dissipate cubically (^3) then this translates to omicron having a 5x transmission rate. Which is in fact how much more transmissible it is.

    So any air conditioning (1) needs to target high impact areas (2) needs to look at clothing (3) needs to look at different viruses.

    You also have the question of who has the skills to install air conditioning. Which I doubt exists in the required quantity.

  2. formula57
    February 1, 2022

    And as always, my right hon. Friend is given no very good answer!

    Can Mr. Javid really suppose that when asked “…what progress can the Secretary of State report to the House on better air extraction, air cleaning and ultraviolet filtration” it is at all adequate to waffle about “many care settings have taken advantage of those funds to provide, for instance, air filtration and ventilation”? How many care setting, what systems were provided and to what standards? What about those who have not taken advantage? He knows nothing, does he?

    1. Everhopeful
      February 1, 2022

      JR always catches them out so they fall to praising his line of questioning!
      And his question ARE incredibly incisive.

  3. agricola
    February 1, 2022

    I have no idea what it is or how it is expressed, but there must be a standard for air purity in hospitals or parts thereof. Having checked each hospital the extent of the problem becomes apparent as does the solution and its cost. It remains to get on and rectify the problem. Alternatively you can leave it to a hundred or so committees and sundry managers throughout the NHS and watch the problem disolve in a welter of indecision.

  4. Everhopeful
    February 1, 2022

    The answer through gritted teeth?😳
    Sec of State surely knows that public knowledge of healthcare precautions during the plague must, per force, be limited.
    Health facilities ( paid for by us mugs) were all shut up and barred!!
    Just when we needed them most.

  5. alan jutson
    February 1, 2022

    Keep on asking the questions John, even though the answers are hardly worth listening to, at least it shows you are aware of what is going on, or should be going on.

    Never know some others may wake up eventually as well.

  6. X-Tory
    February 1, 2022

    I hate how ministers always start off by patronising you and deceitfully pretending that they agree and want to achieve what you have suggested – when the truth is that they don’t give a monkey’s about what you have proposed and intend to fob you off with the rest of the reply. So Javid first compliments your question (“As always, my right hon. Friend has asked a very good question”) and then “as usual” fails to answer it. You specifically asked about “ultraviolet filtration”, and he DID NOT respond to this. WHY NOT?

    All Javid did was to waffle that “many care settings have taken advantage of those funds to provide, for instance, air filtration and ventilation.” (i) How many – PRECISELY? (ii) Filtration and ventilation are very different, and therefore their effectiveness will be different. If the government is funding these then what verification is being made that the most effective system is being adopted in each case? (iii) There is NO MENTION of any requirement that UK taxpayer funds be used to buy UK-MADE equipment. WHY NOT? Is the government so treacherous that they are happy to help our foreign competitors, and foreign workers, and foreign governments, rather than ensure that British money stays in Britain and benefits the BRITISH people?

  7. Nig l
    February 1, 2022

    Indeed. A useless answer demonstrating lack of knowledge and progress and contempt for the voters Sir JR represents.

    As we now know that contempt is embedded further up.

  8. Graham Wheatley
    February 1, 2022

    …… and where does the ‘extracted’ air go?
    Out into the street, presumably?

  9. Helen Smith
    February 1, 2022

    Not a very specific answer to a very specific question, if this is done it will pay dividends for years by reducing infections like vomiting bugs, flu, etc., saving lives and staff time and hence money.

  10. LJONES
    February 1, 2022

    It’s not so much ”in hospitals” that really catches my attention but the fact that SCHOOLS are being targeted as being in need of ”air conditioning” and ”CO2” detecting measures (not CO). What happened to ”opening a window”?
    Now, it seems, millions and millions of pounds are being used to install ”CO2 detectors” and air conditioning units in schools. I’d like to bet that, after these aircon units are installed, there will be many pupils who will suffer the effects, that we’ve known about for a long time. That is, air conditioning is NOT good for some people with respiratory problems. And then they’ll all be decommissioned. No change there, then.

    1. alan jutson
      February 2, 2022


      Guarantee after a few months of use, and certainly after a year or so, no one will ever bother to change the filters, either on a regular basis, or in some cases ever at all.

  11. Bryan Harris
    February 2, 2022

    Another very unspecific answer — The minister needs reminding that simply throwing money at a problem – the socialist way – never produces results.

    What is needed is guidance and real planning to provide hospitals with the correct kind of equipment to ensure all areas are free of stagnant areas where a virus could remain.

    The issue of airflow and non-stagnant areas in hospitals has been an ignored issue for decades — Now that there is some motivation to do something about it simply writing cheques is far from adequate.

  12. David van Rest
    February 4, 2022

    HC Deb 31 January 2022 Col 77
    Official advice is to “Stop Covid 19 hanging around” in mists of infected aerosols. The only practical method suggested is opening a window. This is not practical in cold weather, nor in basements or closed halls.
    Overlooked is the experience of poultry farmers in the 1960s in containing avian flu by fumigating with friendly aerosols which disabled the infected aerosols as well as disinfecting large sheds. Such substantial aerosol generators need to be put back into production, and made widely available.
    I was involved with a manufacturer of generators, but it went bust in the seventies, and other companies fail to produce the volumes required for large halls. It is good to learn that you are pursuing the issue. Best of luck. Respectfully,
    Dr D J van Rest, Amersham, Bucks

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