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Emergency Medical Service

Volume 395: debated on Wednesday 1 December 1943

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asked the Minister of Health the present cost of the Emergency Medical Service and the number of salaried medical practitioners engaged; and whether, as this service was planned more than four years ago to meet events which have not happened and has resulted in a redundant supply of doctors to hospitals and districts remote from towns and to small specialists staffs at voluntary and teaching hospitals, especially in London, and withdrawing adequate medical attendance from the civilian population whose illness risks have at the same time increased, he will immediately readjust the distribution of medical man-power?

With regard to the first part of the Question, the cost of the salaries, fees and expenses of medical officers enrolled in the Emergency Medical Service is at the rate of approximately £1,200,000 a year, and the number of medical officers receiving whole or part-time salaries, which fluctuates somewhat from time to time, is about 1,550. I do not accept the implications in the second part of the Question or see any justification for the re-distribution of hospital staff which my hon. Friend suggests. Although the Service has fortunately not been called upon to treat so many casualties as was at one time expected, it has been employed in caring for the numerous other classes of patients brought within the scope of the Emergency Hospital Scheme. Among these classes are large numbers of civilian sick transferred from town hospitals to outer hospitals having more adequate facilities for their treatment, and other civilian patients transferred from hospitals with long waiting lists. In the result the emergency scheme has greatly expanded the hospital facilities provided for the civilian population as a whole and has made specialist medical skill available to much larger numbers of patients than ever before.