HC Deb 29 June 1900 vol 85 cc65-6
*MR. FABER (York)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the fact that since the commencement of the war in South Africa 127 officers and 4,260 men have died of disease there, and 844 officers and 17,666 men have been invalided home from causes other than wounds, he will state what steps have been taken to provide for the stationary and field hospitals being properly equipped with medical officers and attendants and appliances for dealing with cases of disease, and on whom the duty of providing for the equipment of such hospitals primarily rests, and who are responsible for their organisation; and whether he can state approximately how many officers and men are now ill in hospital in South Africa from causes other than wounds.

The following questions also appeared on the Paper:—


To ask the Under Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the reports of the insanitary condition of the military hospitals at the seat of war owing to the want of accommodation, overcrowding, and the lack of proper medical comforts, and to the fact that the hospital nurses on the spot are unable to carry out their duties owing to the want of orderlies to render them efficient aid; and whether it is possible to do more than is being done at the present moment to limit contagion and render the possibility of the recovery of wounded and sick soldiers more probable.

SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)

To ask the Under Secre- tary of State for War if he will state how many military surgeons and how many civil surgeons have been employed in the campaign in South Africa, and how many male attendants and how many female nurses have been employed in the several hospitals of the Royal Army Medical Department, and how many doctors, attendants, and nurses in the hospitals on land and water provided by private munificence, and how many beds were available on 1st June for the forces under Field Marshal Lord Roberts in Cape Colony and Natal; and can he give any information to the House as to the supply of medical comforts to South Africa on the outbreak of the war and during its course.


The debate this afternoon will be the proper occasion for a full discussion of the various questions raised, but I may say in general that for each increase of the force in South Africa a proportionate increase of medical staff and medical stores has been made. There are now in South Africa, according to our latest information, 466 Army medical officers and 440 civilian surgeons, 566 female nurses, and 5,668 male nurses and orderlies. These do not include doctors and nurses engaged in South Africa. The supply of beds was, on the 19th instant, 5,000 in Natal and 13,600 in Cape Colony and other parts; total, 18,600 beds in South Africa.


Do these figures include the doctors and nurses of purely private hospitals?


Yes, they include everything in the shape of local hospitals, nurses, and doctors.


And what about the last paragraph of my question?


I think it will be more convenient to deal with that in the course of the debate.