HC Deb 01 April 1895 vol 32 cc572-4
MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the alleged cases of the consequences of the too early discharge of patients from the North-Eastern Fever Hospital; whether he has seen the letter of the 11th February from the Islington Medical Officer of Health on the subject, addressed to the Local Government Board, but not yet replied to; whether he is aware that, in the case of Mr. Holland's children, two died and the father was attacked with scarlet fever, having caught the fever, it is alleged, from their third child who was sent home while still desquamating; and whether he will order an inquiry into the whole matter?

MR. B. L. COHEN (Islington, E.)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been drawn to the case of William Holland, aged 16 months, whose parents reside at 39, Ashburton Grove, Islington, and who is stated by Dr. M. J. Bulger, of 145, Seven Sisters Road, N., to have been discharged on 21st January from the Metropolitan Asylums Board's Hospital at Tottenham whilst in a state of desquamation from scarlet fever; whether he is aware that the father, brother, and sister of William Holland, who were all quite well when William Holland was returned from the hospital, have since been attacked with scarlet fever, from which the two children have died; whether he is aware that the last communication from the hospital to the mother of the children on 25th February was to the effect that Archibald Holland was decidedly better, and that there was no cause for anxiety, and that when the mother reached the hospital on 27th February, in obedience to a summons by telegram, she found her son dead; and whether he will direct an inquiry into the circumstances of the case, with a view of preventing the discharge from the hospital of the Metropolitan Asylums Board of patients while yet in a condition dangerous to themselves, and likely to spread infection amongst all those with whom they come in contact?

SIR A. K. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will answer, at the same time, a Supplementary Question of which I have given him notice. It is, whether there are any approved general regulations governing such cases as that of William Holland; and, if so, what is the substance of them, and whether there are exceptional reasons for the delay in the reply of the Local Government Board to the letter of the Medical Officer of Health of the 11th of February?


I will answer these questions, and also one on the same subject of which the hon. Member for the Southern Division of Islington has given me private notice. I have communicated with the managers of the Metropolitan Asylums District, and the clerk informs me that he has caused full inquiries to be made as to the cases of Mr. Holland and his children, and that he has seen the Medical Superintendent of the North-Eastern Hospital, and that there appears to be no justification for attributing the illness of the father, or the illness and death of the two children, to any infection arising from the premature discharge of the child William from the Hospital. The clerk states that in the cases of the two children there was evidence on admission that the disease from which the patients were suffering was diphtheria and not scarlet fever, and the result of a bacteriological examination made by the Director of Laboratories of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons fully confirmed the hospital diagnosis. The clerk further states that Mrs. Holland told the nurse that her husband's illness was diphtheria and not scarlet fever. The allegation that Mrs. Holland was informed on the 25th February that Archibald Holland was decidedly better, and that there was no cause for anxiety, is stated to be denied by the nurse, who maintains that she used her utmost efforts to convince Mrs. Holland of the extreme gravity of her child's illness. The letter which appears to be referred to in the question by the hon. Member for North Islington relates to a different case. A copy of it was sent to the Asylum managers for their observations, but these observations have not at present been received. In answer to the further question, I assure the hon. Gentleman (Sir A. K. Rollit) that the matter is receiving the careful consideration of the Medical Officer of our Board.


May I ask whether it is the fact that the child first attacked was sent home while in a state of desquamation?


I am sure that is not so. Every reasonable precaution was taken, and I am assured the child could not have communicated the disease to the two children who have died.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the medical officer of the Union states that the child was sent home while in a state of peeling?


I give the statement on the authority of the clerk to the Asylums Board. I do not know what the medical officer of the Union has said.