HC Deb 05 May 1896 vol 40 cc542-4
MR. H. C. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether his attention has been called to an inquest held by Mr. Braxton Hicks, on 31st December last at Battersea, on the body of James Stevens Romaine, who died at his home from malignant scarlet fever, at which it was proved that, previously to his death, his brother had been removed to the Tooting Fever Hospital suffering from the same complaint, and that during the interval both parents had visited the child at the hospital every day, thus going to and from places where infectious disease existed. If he is aware that the jury expressed a strong opinion that the Metropolitan Asylums Board should be asked to revise their rules so as to lessen the risk of infection to the public by disallowing such visits unless under exceptional circumstances; that, with regard to visiting patients, by the rules of the Board, two visitors are allowed daily to each patient limited as a rule to a quarter of an hour; that visitors are warned that they run great risk at entering the hospital, but that they are allowed to sit by the bedside; that the only protection to such visitors is a cloak placed over their clothes; and that, on leaving the hospitals, the visitors of necessity return home in public conveyances. And, whether, in view of these facts, he would make representations to the managers to revise the rules in accordance with the suggestion of the jury?


I have communicated with the Managers of the Metropolitan Asylums District, and am informed that there has been no suggestion that the death of the child referred to was due to infection from the hospital, that visits to patients are only allowed under exceptional circumstances, i.e., when patients are dangerously ill, and that such visits are limited to the nearest relatives or intimate friends of the patients. With regard to the statement that visitors of necessity return home in public conveyances, it appears that the father and mother in the case in question walked home, and did not go into any public conveyance, and the Regulations of the Managers expressly urge visitors not to enter any omnibus, tram-car or other public conveyance immediately after leaving the hospital. The Managers have stated that the Regulations as to the visiting of patients dangerously ill have been found to work smoothly and satisfactorily during the many years they have been in operation, and that they see no reason for amending them as was suggested. They added that the enforcement of regulations to prevent parents of patients in the Managers' hospitals (most of whom are young children), visiting them when dangerously ill or dying, could only have the effect of largely discouraging—even if it did not wholly prevent—many parents from sending their children for isolation to the hospitals, and of increasing rather than checking the spread of disease.