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Industrial Dermatitis

Volume 497: debated on Monday 10 March 1952

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31.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware that assessment of loss of faculty in cases of industrial dermatitis does not take into account the increased susceptibility of the worker's skin to a wide range of other irritants; that the worker is restricted in his choice of occupation, and that the assessments are too low; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy the position.

I am advised that such increased susceptibility is taken into account by medical boards and medical appeal tribunals. I would remind the hon. Member that special hardship allowance is available, in addition to the main disablement benefit, in appropriate cases.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the advice given to him does not seem to tally with our experience in the field of work and that these assessments are considered by the workers as being ridiculously low in very many cases? Will the right hon. Gentleman have another look at this?

I can only say that I do not share all the hon. Gentleman's advantages in putting Questions on these technical subjects, but the medical boards and tribunals are composed of the best medical men that we can obtain to serve on them, and I am told that their assessments in these cases take into account all the matters mentioned in the Question.

32.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware that some of his insurance officers appeal against every case in which a worker is certified to be suffering from industrial dermatitis; that there is a considerable delay before the worker is examined by the medical tribunal, and that certifying surgeons serve no useful purpose while this practice continues; and whether he will give instructions that this practice should cease.

The great majority of claims for benefit for industrial dermatitis are decided by insurance officers on the basis of the examining medical practitioner's report. But if the hon. Member has any particular office in mind, perhaps he will let me know.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the trouble which my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross), seeks to remedy is partly due to the fact that there is a shortage of dermatologists? Will he bring this to the attention of the deans of the medical schools?

I will certainly consider any suggestion which the right hon. Lady makes to me on this technical matter.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that men who have suffered from this complaint afterwards often have the greatest difficulty in finding employment in which a recrudescence will not occur? Will he consult his colleagues in other Departments who may be interested in instituting a special inquiry into the causes of the disease and the selection of suitable employment for men who have suffered from it?