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Patient, London Hospital

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 15 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Health why Mr. W. A. Henshaw, of Tuilerie Street, Shoreditch, who visited the London Hospital on 10th June with a doctor's letter stating that he had attempted suicide, was neither seen by a psychiatrist nor detained in hospital; if he is aware that this patient committed suicide two days later; and what steps he will take to ensure that cases of this nature are in future treated as emergencies.

I greatly regret the tragic circumstances of this case, but I must make it clear that the terms in which the patient was referred to the hospital did not, as the hon. Member suggests, indicate that he had attempted suicide. I agree, however, that it would have been preferable for him to be dealt with as an emergency.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, according to my information, the doctor's letter did state that the patient attempted to commit suicide and that that information was accepted by the coroner at the inquest? While I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his sympathy, which will be appreciated by the family, may I ask whether there is not something he can do to ensure that this sort of tragic occurrence does not occur again?

Yes, I accept that. As far as my information goes, I have actually seen the original letter and while it does say that the father had strong suspicions that the boy had suicidal intentions there is no evidence in it to show that he had attempted suicide.