HC Deb 09 November 1939 vol 353 cc398-9
58. Dr. Howitt

asked the Minister of Health how many London hospital beds were evacuated at the commencement of war, and how many of these beds are to-day available for the treatment of civilian sick?

Mr. Elliot

At the commencement of war, about 8,000 hospital beds in the County of London were evacuated by sending patients either to their homes or to other institutions, and in addition there were about 7,500 beds already vacant, making 15,500 in all. At the present time there are in these hospitals about 13,000 vacant beds available not only for casualties but also for the civilian sick, who, as I have made clear on several occasions, are being admitted to the hospitals if they are in need of in-patient treatment. I will send my hon. Friend a copy of a letter recently sent to London hospitals on this subject.

Dr. Howitt

May I further ask my right hon. Friend whether a sufficient number of physicians, surgeons and specialists have now returned to London to enable the hospitals to deal adequately with the civilian population?

Mr. Elliot

I am advised that adequate medical and nursing personnel is available at these hospitals for the cases which are at present coming forward, but as my hon. Friend knows, further proposals were made to me last Friday by a special committee which was representative of all sides of the profession, and those proposals are now under active consideration.

62. Mr. Crowder

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider authorising the immediate re-opening of London hospitals for the treatment of civil sick on a much larger scale than at present?

Mr. Elliot

A special inquiry which I made on Monday showed that the nine big London hospitals—the London, St. Bartholomews, University College, Middlesex, St. Mary's, Westminster, St. Thomas', King's College and Guys Hospitals—all have vacant beds available for the ordinary needs of the population. I am, however, carefully examining in consultation with the governing bodies and their staffs what steps are possible to increase the facilities and beds available at the central hospitals.