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Personal Case

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 5 March 1952

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4.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what action he has taken in respect of the case of boy-apprentice, 586228 A. F. Woodmass, stationed at the Royal Air Force Camp, Halton, Buckinghamshire, particulars of which have been sent to him, which show that he became ill on 17th February whilst on leave at his home in Slough; that a local doctor and hospital declined service on the ground that the permission of the boy's unit must be secured; that 10 hours' delay occurred after the unit was contacted before permission for local treatment was given; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent a recurrence of such delays in medical treatment for Service men when on leave.

There is no need for the permission of the unit to be obtained before an airman on leave can be treated by a civil hospital or doctor. The action to be taken in such cases was published in the medical Press in April, 1948, and is printed on the back of the current Royal Air Force leave-pass.

I have called for a report on the reasons for delay at Halton, and I shall write to the hon. Member when this is received.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the father of this boy telephoned to the R.A.F. at Halton at 10 o'clock in the morning; that he had received no reply at three o'clock and telephoned again; that at 7.15 he telephoned the police and that meanwhile this boy was so ill that the hospital instructed his father not even to remove him to the hospital, and whether, in those circumstances, the hon. Gentleman will take urgent action to prevent this kind of thing happening to boys in the R.A.F. when they are on leave?

I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not wish me to comment further until my inquiries are complete.

Is the hon. Gentleman also aware that the first contact the R.A.F. had with this boy was one week later when they sent an ambulance to take him back to camp; and whether he will make a very serious investigation into all the matters relating to this very scandalous negligence?

Yes, of course. But the regulations on the matter are quite clear. I would ask the hon. Member in fairness to remember that the original error, if it can be called an error, was the fact that the local doctor was not acquainted with the regulations governing these cases.

Is the Minister aware that these cases are few and far between and that in general the public has great confidence in the administration of the Service?