HC Deb 30 May 1927 vol 207 cc14-6
27. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that a number of the public are unwilling to go to public vaccinators to be vaccinated and prefer to be vaccinated by their own family doctor, though they desire to be vaccinated with Government lymph; that the Ministry are refusing to supply private practitioners other than public vaccinators with the lymph supplied by the Government lymph establishment, in which the public have confidence; and whether, having regard to the desirability, in the public interest, of having as few unprotected persons as possible, he will make arrangements for the supply of Government lymph to all qualified practitioners on application?


asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that many medical practitioners, recognising the excellence of the lymph supplied to public vaccinators by the Government lymph establishment, would welcome the opportunity of purchasing supplies of this lymph for the vaccination of their private patients, but are precluded from doing so; and, bearing in mind the prevalence of small-pox in the country, will he consider the advisability of removing this restriction so that medical practitioners who are not public vaccinators may have the opportunity of using this lymph which has such a high reputation for efficiency?


The reputation of Government lymph has been achieved, not only by its quality and consistency, but by the close attention given to its results by means of official inspection and records. If Government lymph were to be made available to private practitioners generally, it would appear very difficult, if not impossible, to ensure similar checks and controls. Moreover, I may point out that as from August next, all vaccine lymph sold in this country will now, by virtue of the Therapeutic Substances Act, 1925, come under official control and have to conform to prescribed standards of potency and purity. My right hon. Friend proposes to give some further consideration to the question, but it seems doubtful, in view of the foregoing observations, whether any departure from present practice would be justified.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a letter in the "Times" this morning from Dr. Monkton Copeman—who was originally responsible for the use of glycerinated calf lymph—in which he states that he has never been able to understand why Government calf lymph should not be sold to private practitioners; and is he also aware that a case of unsuccessful re-vaccination is likely to give a false sense of security both to doctor and patient; and bearing in mind the prevalence of small-pox does he not think it would be advisable to see that private medical practitioners should have the opportunity of purchasing Government lymph if they so desire?


I have read the letter in the "Times" this morning. There is no mention in the letter, however, of the fact that under the Therapeutic Substances Act, which comes into force in August next, all lymph sold will have to come under official control and will have to conform to prescribed standards of potency and purity. There are many difficulties in the way of using Government lymph generally. It may cost considerably more money and would also mean very many Regulations. I think it would be better to await the new operations under the Act to which I have referred. The public will then know that all this lymph will be under official control and that it will have to conform to prescribed standards.


Having regard to the fact that there is at present something in the nature of an epidemic of smallpox in the country, largely due to lack of vaccination, would it not be desirable to make a temporary arrangement until August for the supply of lymph so that any practitioner who desires, can have it?


Will the lymph be supplied to supporters of the Government in the meantime?


In reply to the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) I should like to say that in all cases where there is an epidemic of the kind to which he has referred, arrangements are made with the medical practitioners of the district for a supply of Government lymph. My right hon. Friend has the matter under consideration, but there are many difficulties and I believe myself that under this new legislation, the desire—which I think everyone shares—that lymph of this kind should be of the proper standard of efficiency, will be achieved.


asked the Minister of Health whether, having regard to the prevalence of smallpox in the counties of Northumberland and Durham, he can give the number of cases where those at present infected have been vaccinated, and how many have not, in the two counties, respectively?


My right hon. Friend has not yet obtained complete information as to the vaccinal condition of those cases of small-pox which have occurred in the two counties during the past eight weeks. This information, which should cover all cases at present known to be infected, will, however, shortly be available, and will be communicated to my hon. Friend.