HC Deb 02 June 1938 vol 336 cc2221-2
43. Mr. David Adams

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that high opinion in the medical profession holds that rheumatism, directly costing the nation £20,000,000 each year and being responsible for 1,000,000 workers each year losing five and a-half weeks' employment, cannot be satisfactorily dealt with under the voluntary hospitals system; and whether he is prepared, by means of State action, to extend the number of national hospitals specialising in rheumatic diseases or to initiate some other national scheme, in view of the fact that rheumatism is also a main factor in the cause of heart disease, which is responsible for more than one-third of the national death rate?

Mr. Elliot

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to his question of 3rd May last, to which I am afraid I cannot add at present.

Mr. Adams

Arising out of the answer, which was highly unsatisfactory, are we to understand that the Government intend to take no additional action to deal with this very prevalent disease, which is responsible for a substantial percentage of the national death rate?

Mr. Elliot

I am afraid that the hon. Member does not recollect the terms of the answer given as recently as 3rd May. It was pointed out that the facilities for the treatment of this acute disease were provided by means of the general hospitals and a number of specialised institutions, and that local authorities were increasing the medical provision for the treatment of rheumatism in children.

Mr. McEntee

Is it not a fact that in many areas no provision is made by the local authority, and will he suggest to them that they should bring themselves up to the standard of the better authorities?

Mr. Elliot

This is a matter of local administration. I agree always that all local authorities should follow the lead of the more progressive in this respect.

Mr. Maxton

Is not the basic trouble that there is a complete lack of knowledge as to this disease?

Mr. Elliot

I agree that there is a lack of knowledge regarding this disease in some cases, but we have a certain amount of knowledge of some aspects of it.