§ 27. Major Haden Guest
asked the Secretary of State for War why the privilege of medical and dental treatment accorded to the families of pre-war Regular soldiers now serving, and to those of reservists called up for service, is not given to the families of the soldiers enlisted or called up since the beginning of the war?
§ Captain Margesson
The extension to the families of soldiers enlisted since the war of the facilities for medical and dental treatment at present enjoyed by the families of pre-war Regular soldiers or reservists now serving would involve an enormous increase in the numbers of Army medical and dental officers which could only be effected at the expense of the civil medical services. Moreover, the families of pre-war Regular soldiers are not eligible for medical attendance in their homes unless they live within a mile of certain fixed points, and, if the concession were extended to the families of war-time soldiers, its value would therefore vary according to the family's domicile.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that the provision of these facilities has not required any increased medical staff? Is he aware that the present procedure is that in the large number of cases where families are not able to obtain medical attendance from their own doctors, because they have no funds, they are referred to the relieving officer and, if the case is urgent, the relieving officer makes arrangements for them, but, if it is not urgent, they are referred to the public assistance committee? Does he not think it very undesirable that the wives and families of soldiers should be treated in this way and have to appear before the public assistance committee in order to get what they regard as their natural right?
§ Captain Margesson
I think the answer to the first part of the Question is that the emergency medical services are the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. As regards the second part, if this concession were to be made, it would entail an enormous increase in the number of medical and dental officers, which could only be effected at the expense of the civil medical services.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not aware that soldiers, and the wives of serving soldiers, were entitled to go quite normally to the medical service hospitals and that no change would be required in that respect?