HC Deb 12 October 1939 vol 352 cc490-4
17. Sir Ralph Glyn

asked the Minister of Health the total number of persons undergoing restraint in mental asylums who have been released under the Emergency Hospital Scheme to go to their homes; and what arrangements are made for their care and supervision?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)

I am advised that the number of persons who were so discharged to their homes from mental hospitals does not exceed 200. No patient was discharged unless selected after careful investigation of all relevant circumstances, including his home conditions, as suitable to be cared for and supervised by his relatives at home. The Board of Control are reviewing the arrangements for the care and supervision in war time of individuals living in the community who are suffering from mental disorder.

18. Sir R. Glyn

asked the Minister of Health the number of beds in the hospitals in the Metropolitan police area available for sick children at the present time; and what are the arrangements under the Emergency Hospital Scheme for the normal treatment of children undergoing specialist treatment of one kind and another who are unable to go far afield to receive it?

Mr. Elliot

Many of the beds in the general hospitals are available for children, but the figures I have do not distinguish children's beds from adults' beds. There are, I understand, in general, beds available for all requiring hospital treatment. Although a number of beds have been reserved under the Emergency Hospital Scheme for the treatment of casualties, the ordinary hospital services remain available. There should, therefore, not be difficulty in obtaining specialist treatment required by children who remain in London, but if my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind I should be glad to look into it, if he would let me have particulars.

Colonel Nathan

In view of the answer, how does it come about that the right hon. Gentleman's Department has informed me, as chairman of the Infants' Hospital, Vincent Square, that, notwithstanding the specialist nature of that hospital, as a hospital for children which, under the orders of his Department, was evacuated at the outbreak of the war, it is not desired that the hospital should be reopened?

Mr. Elliot

There are a number of places where specialist treatment can be obtained, but if the hon. and gallant Gentleman desires to open the hospital for specialist services I shall be very glad to go into the matter.

19. Sir R. Glyn

asked the Minister of Health the total number of hospital beds available for surgical and medical treatment of the civil population resident in the Metropolitan police area at the present time compared with October, 1938; how many beds are available for emergency casualties due to enemy action; and, in view of the return of many women and children from reception areas, will he reconsider the whole question by authorising an extension of the number of beds at the disposal of the civil population, and consequently release members of the medical profession from their war stations in order to enable them to carry on their normal duties, on the understanding that they return to their war stations should the military situation render that course necessary?

Mr. Elliot

There are normally approximately 97,000 hospital beds in the Metropolitan police area, excluding beds for mental patients. Under the Emergency Hospital Scheme an additional 14,000 beds have been set up in hospitals in the outer parts of the area, while approximately 13,000 beds have, for the time being, been closed in certain of the inner hospitals. Accordingly, the total number of beds available in the Metropolitan police area is now about 98,000. Approximately 55,000 are immediately available in hospitals in the area of the London Sector Scheme (which is rather larger than that of the Metropolitan police area) and these can be used either for casualties or for ordinary sick in need of in-patient treatment. As I have previously stated both in this House and elsewhere, hospitals have been instructed to admit to their unoccupied beds all cases requiring inpatient treatment.

As regards the release of members of the medical profession to cam' on their normal duties, arrangements have been made under which doctors can either go on indefinite leave, subject to recall if required, or (with the exception of doctors filling posts as registrars, house physicians and house surgeons) go on part-time service under conditions recently drawn up in accordance with the advice of a committee which included several eminent physicians and surgeons. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT particulars of the constitution of this committee and of the conditions referred to.

Following are the particulars:

The Committee.

The Conditions.

1. Each officer who is transferred to part-time will make his services available to the State, if required, for the equivalent of four days in every week, the remainder of the time being at his own disposal. The precise manner of giving effect to this condition, that is, the particular days or parts of days when the officer is to be on call, will be a matter for arrangement with the Medical Superintendent, subject to the approval of the Group Officer. A record of the times when the officer attends for duty will be kept by the Medical Superintendent.

2. He will receive a retaining fee equivalent to one third of the salary which has been already offered to him. This fee will cover any services rendered under the previous paragraph, so long as he remains on a part-time basis.

3. Should circumstances make it necessary he will be required to resume whole-time, in accordance with the undertaking he has given, and in that event payment of the full salary will be resumed.

4. No officer who elects to go on part-time will be eligible for an allowance for board and lodging, or for travelling between his home and his official Headquarters.

5. Similarly such officers, being no longer whole-time temporary civil servants, will not be entitled to official leave, or to sick pay during temporary absences due to illness.

37. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Minister of Health whether he will state the number of hutment hospitals erected, or in course of erection, under the war-time emergency medical scheme; the number of beds in such hospitals, and the number of doctors, surgeons, nurses and other personnel attached to them; and whether experience shows that those hospitals already in operation are functioning satisfactorily?

Mr. Elliot

In England and Wales 104 hutment hospital schemes, of 1,037 huts, comprising 38,120 beds, have been decided upon. In 71 of these schemes the estimate of cost submitted by a local architect has been approved and construction of the huts has begun. In the remainder, tenders are being awaited. Two of the schemes comprising 23 huts, have been completed and in several more the roofing and walling has been finished so that they could be used, in an emergency, if required. Medical, nursing and other personnel will be allotted to the hutment hospitals as they are completed, but I am not in a position to give the numbers. As the huts are not yet actually in use, I cannot express any opinion on their functioning, but I have every reason to trust that it will be satisfactory.

Mr. Gallacher

May we take it that the medical and nursing staffs will be fully and adequately remunerated for the services that they give?

Mr. Elliot

They will be remunerated on the same terms as those of their comrades who are serving already in hospitals.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are very serious complaints from doctors in many of these institutions about the treatment they are receiving?

41 and 42. Mr. Parker

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether the sector officers in charge of the emergency medical service in various districts were consulted before the letter sent out on 6th October; and what steps he is taking to ensure that there are an adequate number of doctors available in the event of air raids;

(2) whether he is aware that house officers never have written contracts with hospitals; why such an assumption was made in the letter of dismissal from the emergency medical service sent out by his Department on the 6th October to a large number of doctors; and whether his Department propose to fulfil its obligations for the past five weeks work?

Mr. Elliot

The letter to which the hon. Member refers was sent out in error. All group officers have now been advised as to the actual position of the doctors in question. The answer as regards obligations incurred during the past five weeks is in the affirmative.