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St Andrew's Hospital, Billericay (Discharged Patient)

Volume 640: debated on Monday 15 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Health if he will inquire into the case of Mrs. H. Salmons, Shaw Avenue, Barking, Essex, who was seriously injured in the Pitsea railway accident on 18th April, 1961, in which her husband was killed, and who was discharged from St. Andrew's Hospital, Billericay, 11 days later, still suffering considerable pain, with an intimation that, unless her relatives could arrange for her transport, she might have to travel home by train, as it was too far for an ambulance to go; and if he will make a statement.

I have had a report from the hospital management committee. I am told that, with Mrs. Salmons agreement, arrangements were made for her to go home in her son-in-law's car and she was considered fit to do so. There was no question of a train journey being the only alternative, and I am sorry that the misapprehension could arise.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how this misapprehension arose? Is he aware that a spokesman of the hospital has given an interview about this in the local Press—in itself a rather unusual procedure when a Question in this House is pending—in which it was admitted that a relative of this lady was told that it would be better to have a car for her, since an ambulance might not be able to take her all the way home, and that otherwise she might be sent by train—still suffering from serious injuries sustained in a train crash, ten days before, in which her husband was killed?

I have written to the hon. Member today in detail. He was good enough to give me details of this case, and I inquired into it. I am satisfied that there was no question of a train journey being the alternative to her being taken home by private car.

Would an ambulance in fact have been able to take her all the way from Billericay to Barking, which is not very far? If so, why was it ever suggested, even faintly, that she might have to go by train?

Not in all cases is ambulance the method by which patients on discharge return home. It appears to be the case, as the hon. Member says, that a train journey was mentioned among other alternatives on an occasion when this was discussed. There was no question that it was with that as the only alternative that she went home in a private car.

For the sake of the record, will the Minister make it clear that ambulances can, and frequently do, travel distances considerably in excess of this in the London area?