Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP, visited the charity Medical Detection Dogs at their headquarters near Milton Keynes.
Impressive cancer detection dogs gave Mr Tomlinson a demonstration while he met some of the assistance dogs and their owners – finishing his visit by discussing key concerns raised by the charity’s CEO Dr Claire Guest.
He said: “I was really pleased to get the chance to visit the team at Medical Detection Dogs to see some of the amazing work they do.
“This charity is making a valuable contribution supporting the NHS as we work to fight against cancer and other life-changing illnesses.
CEO and co-founder of Medical Detection Dogs, Dr Claire Guest said: “We were really pleased to welcome the Minister to Medical Detection Dogs so that he could see first-hand the important work that the dogs do, the benefits that they give to their owners and the huge amount of effort that goes into their training.
“As such, notifying the Minister of our concerns surrounding the challenge posed by rogue assistance dog providers was a key aspect of this visit.
“Our position is clear on this issue – we think that the current law needs clarification regarding the legal definition, standard and accreditation for assistance dogs in the UK.
“My discussion with the Minister was constructive and we hope that the government will look at this issue seriously.”
Medical Detection Dogs trains dogs to use their remarkable olfactory powers to detect cancer in urine or breath samples.
“In training trials they have been shown to achieve a reliability of 93 per cent, much higher than many existing tests used by the NHS.
The charity’s second arm provides life-saving support to individuals with long-term serious conditions such as brittle type one diabetes, by training dogs to be alert to assist them.
The dogs alert their diabetic partners to dangerous falls in their sugar levels and prompt them to take their medication before they suffer a hypoglycaemic attack.
Mr Tomlinson added: “We’re committed to protecting the lives of people with long-term health conditions.
“It’s really important to me to take any opportunity to speak directly to organisations, such as Medical Detection Dogs, to see how we can work together going forward and share best practice.”