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Public Health

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 27 May 1943

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Diphtheria (Immunisation)


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has considered the letter from John C. Dixon, 14, Johnson Street, Newton, near Barrow-in-Furness, asking him to investigate the case of his son, aged five years, who was inoculated against diphtheria at school without his patents consent and who has since had septic rashes all over his body and frequent screaming fits during the night; and whether he will reprimand those responsible for inoculating the boy without the consent of his father, who had a strong objection to this inoculation?

I understand that a form asking for Mr. Dixon's consent to the immunisation of his son was sent to him in March, 1942, and that he took no action upon it. The boy was immunised in March and April, 1942, but I am informed that no protest was made at the time by Mr. Dixon and that he did not seek medical advice about his son until nearly a year later. While I naturally regret any anxiety caused, I cannot accept all the implications in the hon. Member's Question.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what authority the doctor or nurse had to immunise the boy without the consent of the parents?

The hon. Member is perfectly correct. The consent of the parents ought to have been assured before immunisation was undertaken. I am drawing this matter to the attention of those concerned. I think this Question will have served that purpose.

Are not parents who refuse their consent to the immunisation of their children a danger to other parents?

I would like to say, in answer to that question, that I have taken the trouble myself to issue a special message drawing the importance of immunisation to the attention of parents, in view of the very serious results of diphtheria on children.

Are we to understand that immunisation is still voluntary in this country?

Venereal Diseases


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that a woman informed against under Regulation 33B was imprisoned for failing to complete treatment, he will consider penalising the men who informed against her for any default in treatment?

No, Sir. There is no power under the Regulation to deal with the persons indicated in the latter part of the Question.

Can the Minister justify the position in which an individual informed against under Regulation 33B can be sent to prison but the two informers, people suffering from the disease and liable to transmit it to innocent people, are not penalised in any way?

They themselves are undergoing treatment, and the House fully understood that when the Regulation was made.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that those individuals can default in their treatment and not be penalised?

The answer is that I am watching the operation of the Regulation to find out whether the hon. Lady's supposition is actually working out in fact.

While the right hon. Gentleman is watching the operation of the Regulation, is he aware that these people who are defaulting in treatment are transmitting this disease to their innocent wives?

I am aware that the hon. Lady makes these assumptions, but she does not give us the facts.

Disabled Persons (Rehabilitation)


asked the Minister of Health, whether, in view of the growing importance of the rehabilitation and resettlement of disabled persons and the fact that the Tomlinson Committee was not entitled to take evidence from any quarter, he will consult those who have,had experience of handling these cases in order that the scheme may prove successful?

The recommendations of this Committee which affect my Department are concerned for the most part with the development and extension of measures of rehabilitation already adopted under the Emergency Hospital Scheme. In this matter my officers are proceeding in consultation with those having experience in this field of medicine, not only centrally but in the hospitals throughout the country, where a special review of the subject is now in progress. I have also had the advantage of a discussion with representatives of the Trades Union Congress. If my hon. Friend has any suggestions as to other persons who should be consulted, I shall be happy to consider them. The Committee's other recommendations are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service.

It is very well to consult trade unions and employers in this connection, but will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the doctors who are actually doing this very special work feel that they are not consulted adequately in connection with rehabilitation? Will he look into that?

I do not accept that. I shall be glad to have a talk with my hon. Friend and give him details of the consultations with the bodies which are specially interested.

Mental Treatment Services


asked the Minister of Health whether further consideration has been given to the necessity of including mental treatment services in his plans for a more effective national health and medical service; whether he will ensure an organic relationship between mental and medical health services; and what reply he has given to representations on this issue?

The ideas in my hon. Friend's Question are having full consideration in the preparation of plans.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that all those who are interested in the mental services of this country regret very much that mental services should be divorced from the general health services?

Does the right hon. Gentleman include mental deficiency, as well as mental disturbance?

National Health Service (Discussions)


asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered the. announcement by the British Medical Association, published in the "Lancet" for Saturday, 22nd May, of which a copy has been sent to him, about the discussions upon a national health service; and whether he has any statement to make thereon?


asked the Minister of Health the position with regard to his negotiations with the medical profession concerning a full medical service free to all; and when a White Paper will be published?

I would refer my hon. Friends to the answer which I gave yesterday on this subject to my hon. Friend the Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little).

In view of the fact that that answer does not refer specifically to the British Medical Association's statement, and in view of their statement that in the opinion of their representative Committee the proposals are quite unacceptable to the great majority of the medical profession, will my right hon. Friend now consider issuing a White Paper setting out the proposals made as a basis of discussion between the medical profession, the local authorities, and the voluntary hospitals, and can he arrange for a debate in this House?

Is it not a fact that the B.M.A. put forward counter proposals of their own and does my right hon. Friend intend to publish those and his own proposals?

I am glad to say that we have had very fruitful discussions in the last few days.

Is it not a fact that the voluntary hospitals do not know what the proposals made by the medical profession and the local authorities are, and that the local authorities do not know what the proposals of th,e other bodies are? Would it not clear the air if the Minister issued a White Paper?

My hon. Friend is misinformed. With regard to the voluntary hospitals, I have received definite and constructive proposals from them only last week.

Maternity Accommodation, West Riding


asked the Minister of Health what steps he is still taking to make available maternity accommodation in the southern portion of the West Riding of Yorkshire; and whether he is aware that concern exists among the local authorities, including the West Riding County Council, at the failure of his Ministry to give permission to these local authorities to proceed with maternity accommodation?

I have approved the provision of 89 additional maternity beds in five separate institutions in the West Riding of Yorkshire during the last six months. Five more projects are under active consideration, in consultation with the appropriate Departments. Only one proposal has been refused approval. My hon. Friend will appreciate that the present stringencies of labour and materials make it essential to restrict approval to proposals of outstanding urgency.

Education Bill


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has considered the resolution of the Sheffield Council of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, a copy of which has been sent to him, calling for the raising of the school-leaving age for secondary education, common standards of staffing adequate nursery schools, &c.; when he proposes to introduce the Education Bill; and whether he proposes to include all or any of these matters therein?

Yes, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) on 20th May, a copy of which I am sending him.