HC Deb 09 July 1906 vol 160 cc519-20
Sin J. JARDINE (Roxburghshire)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that, although the rules of the Metropolitan Asylums Board strongly discountenance the making of personal inquiries at infectious hospitals by the friends of patients and state that all inquiries must be made in writing to the medical superintendent, delay frequently occurs in answering such inquiries, and information is not given either to the nearest relative or to the certifying medical attendant as to the diagnosis of the case after admission; whether he is aware of instances in which, from misunderstanding or ignorance of the rules, or other causes, relatives of patients receive no official information whatever during the whole period of detention of the patient; and whether, as the removal of patients is practically compulsory, he will cause a circular to be issued to the Metropolitan Asylums Board, and other similar authorities outside the London area, prescribing forms for brief reports to be sent to relatives at prescribed and frequent intervals, whether formally applied for or not, and for a report on the diagnosis and bacteriological examination of the case to be sent to the medical practitioner by whom the case was certified.


The managers of the Metropolitan Asylum District have, as I am informed, no reason to believe that delay frequently occurs in answering letters of inquiry concerning patients in their hospitals, nor have I received complaints on the subject. I understand that the certifying medical practitioner is always informed by the medical superintendent of the hospital when the latter does not agree with the certified diagnosis of the case. Notice of the arrival of a patient at a hospital of the managers is always sent to the parents or other nearest known relative or friend. Extracts from the Regulations are printed on the notice, and these show that inquiries as to the condition of the patient may be made in writing of the Medical Superintendant, who will send an early reply, and that, should the patient become dangerously ill, notice will be sent to the nearest known relative or friend with an intimation that the patient may be visited. I believe, too, that as regards the hospitals of local authorities outside London, it is the general rule to give notice where the patient is dangerously ill. As at present advised, I do not think there is sufficient ground for adopting the suggestion in the last part of the Question, which would involve considerable expense as well as labour to those concerned, I think that the object which my hon. friend has in view will be sufficiently met by the public attention which will be drawn to the matter by his Question.