22 and 23.
asked the Minister of Health (1) if he will institute an independent inquiry into the circumstances in which. Mrs. Watson, an inpatient of Oldham Boundary Park Hospital, was missing from the hospital from Wednesday, 20th December to Wednesday, 28th December last, when she was found by the police in a seriously distressed and frost-bitten condition; and if he will make a statement;(2) why Mr. Watson was not kept informed of the circumstances of Mr. Watson's absence as an in-patient from Oldham Boundary Park Hospital from 20th December to 28th December last; if he is satisfied with the internal security arrangements at the hospital; and whether there is effective and expeditious machinery, where it is necessary, to seek the help of the police and other outside agencies.
The board has instituted an inquiry.
Is the Minister aware that this unfortunate lady has now lost both feet by amputation, that until Friday afternoon last her husband had not been informed of any of these circumstances, and that there is physical evidence, as recorded by the doctors, of this lady being molested during the time that she was missing from the hospital? Does the Minister think that public anxiety arising in this case will be satisfied with an internal hospital management board inquiry? Does he not think that at least an inspector from his Department might be added to the inquiry so that the public anxiety will be allayed?
The inquiry is not by the hospital management committee; it is by the board, which would be the normal form of inquiry in these circumstances, and obviously I must not comment, in view of this, on what the hon. Gentleman has said.