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Soldier's Death (Notification)

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1949

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34.

asked the Secretary of State for War what medical examination was given Private George F. Carroll, 17th Platoon, "B" Company, Royal Army Pay Corps, T/c., prior to his enrolment as Grade I; and why his parents were not notified of his removal to hospital, where he was for over two weeks, until the day before his death and too late for them to see him.

This soldier was given the usual medical examination by the Ministry of Labour before he joined the Army. Official notification of admission to hospital is sent to the next-of-kin only when a patient is unable to write or is placed on the seriously or dangerously ill list. In this case the soldier was not unable to write on admission to hospital. He was placed on the dangerously ill list on 2nd April, when a telegram was immediately sent to his parents, who I understand were unfortunately not able to reach the military hospital at Aldershot from Glasgow until within a few minutes of the death of their son. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my sympathy with them.

Is the Secretary of State aware that this soldier had four examinations, two of them by specialists, and an X-ray, and that the authorities were well aware of the health of the soldier in his civilian life; and in view of 'the fact that this regrettable state of affairs has arisen in this case, will he take steps to see that the civilian health histories of, soldiers, especially when doubts such as existed in this case have been adequately displayed, are considered in future?

I cannot see that anything wrong was done in this particular case. I am advised that the cause of death was rheumatic fever and bronchial pneumonia, and I would imagine from that that it must he attributable to his service.

Is the Secretary of State aware that a Glasgow boy dropped dead in Egypt; and in cases which are now being passed from the Ministry of Labour, where there are doubts about the heart condition of the individual, should not the benefit of the doubt be given to the man so that these tragedies do not occur?

Many allegations are made and I should like to have confirmation by having the exact particulars.

Does the machinery for dealing with this not allow the Secretary of State and his people to have knowledge of the civilian health of a soldier; and does not the fact that four specific examinations were required to eliminate doubt indicate that there must have been such a doubt as should have been exercised in favour of the soldier so that he was not graded A.1?

I do not see that that has anything to do with the case. This is simply a question whether we should have informed the next-of-kin. As it happens, on admission to hospital the soldier himself was able to write to his relatives; and secondly, in the opinion of the medical authorities of the hospital, he was not then dangerously ill.