asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the perfunctory way in which, on the admission of a soldier to hospital, the next of kin are informed of the nature of the soldier's illness; and whether he will issue instructions to all those authorised to sign hospital redirection cards, Army Form A.2042A, to ensure that the nature of the soldier's illness or wounds is more clearly defined and the next of kin saved from undue anxiety.
Whenever a soldier is admitted to hospital as a battle casualty or suffering from a serious illness or injury his next of kin is informed by telegram followed by a letter. Great care is taken in the wording of these communications so as to give full and accurate information. In other cases it is, I think rightly, left to the man himself to decide whether to let his family know of his admission to hospital either by letter or by this special form, which is primarily a notification of his new postal address.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have in my possession an Army form A.2042A, which was sent in respect of a lad in the Middle East, which bears the information to the boy's parents that he has been admitted to hospital with multiple injuries? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the anxiety that was caused to those parents when it took four days to receive a reply, by prepaid telegram, from the War Office which stated:
Surely more details could be supplied to parents when a soldier is injured. Will the Minister see that the form is altered so as to provide the fullest details?"When we hear what has happened to the boy we will let you know."
I think that it will be generally agreed that it is right to leave to a man, unless he is seriously or dangerously ill, the decision as to what he should tell his parents. He may not want to tell them that he is in hospital, so as to avoid causing them anxiety. I have not seen the form which the hon. Member has quoted. I should like to look into the matter, but I imagine that the soldier himself filled in the form.
No, it was not in the soldier's handwriting. It was in the sister's handwriting.