HC Deb 25 February 1920 vol 125 cc1684-5
66. Mr. R. YOUNG

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the death rate at the Chinley Isolation Hospital was 55 per cent. during the period 24th to 29th November, 1919; what was the reason why this high death rate took place; whether three boys, aged nine, seven, and five years, respectively, died within the dates referred to, all members of the same family, after anti-toxin treatment; whether the cause of these deaths has been investigated and the anti-toxin in use at the time stated compounded for analysis as to its purity and with what result; whether two of the cases referred to were out of bed one hour before death; and whether the third case, admitted for observation only, died from an overdose of anti-toxin?


I am informed that during the period mentioned the number of patients in the Chinley Isolation Hospital was 24, of whom 12 were cases of diphtheria, and that during the same period the number of deaths in the hospital was four, in each case from diphtheria. These fatal cases included the three boys referred to by the hon. Member.

The facts as to these cases, together with the local incidence of diphtheria in the neighbourhood, have been fully investigated by one of the Medical Officers of the Ministry as well as by the County and local Medical Officers. They are of opinion that the high mortality was due to the malignant character of the disease, and to the fact that those in charge of the cases before admission to the hospital had failed to administer diphtheria anti-toxin. When the cases were admitted to hospital they were all in an advanced stage of the disease; and, although anti-toxin was at once administered, it was then too late to stay the progress of the disease. I am satisfied on the evidence that the administration of anti-toxin was in no way prejudicial or related to the fatal result, and that the treatment given to the cases after admission to hospital was in all respects adequate.