HC Deb 04 May 1908 vol 187 c1659
MR. EUGENE WASON (Clackmannan and Kinross)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that valuable lives of poor women are sometimes sacrificed in their confinement through the absence of a doctor, owing to their inability to pay the fee for his attendance; and whether the Local Government Board would so far vary their Circular of the 29th July last to the boards of guardians on the Midwives Act of 1902 as to make the payment of the doctor's fee compulsory by the guardians instead of permissive, as at present.


The guardians are authorised by the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1848, to pay for any medical assistance rendered to a poor person on the happening of any sudden illness, although no order has been given for the same by the guardians or any of their officers, or by the overseers. Under this provision the guardians may pay the fee of any medical man called in on the advice of a midwife to attend a woman in childbirth in any case of difficulty. The Board are not empowered to alter this provision so as to make it compulsory. Under the regulations which are in force in most unions, however, it is compulsory upon the guardians to pay a fee to a Poor Law medical officer who is called on to attend a woman in childbirth by order of a person legally qualified to make the order. They must also pay the fee if under circumstances of difficulty or danger he visits without any order any such woman who is actually receiving relief or whom the guardians may subsequently decide to have been in a destitute condition.