HC Deb 01 August 1946 vol 426 cc1199-200
29. Mr. T. Brooks

asked the Minister of Pensions if he will state approximately the number of serious spinal cases that have been won back to almost normality at our military hospitals; the percentage of men who, by reason of this treatment have actually been able to take up employment; the number of men and women supplied with artificial limbs who have actually been able to take up employment; and if he is satisfied with the work on rehabilitation.

Mr. Wilfred Paling

Unfortunately, it cannot be claimed that cases of serious spinal injury can be restored to a condition approaching normality in the sense of full mobility, but modern methods of treatment have very substantially reduced the mortality rate in these cases and have enabled the majority of the men to get about in self-propelled or motor-propelled chairs instead of being permanently confined to bed. Precise figures of the number who have been able to take up employment are not available but I estimate that, on the completion of treatment and, where necessary training, about 60 per cent. will be able to undertake remunerative employment.

Artificial limbs have been supplied in about 15,000 cases since 1939, of which 12,000 arc war-injured cases. Practically all of the persons concerned have been fit to take up remunerative employment or undergo training for employment. I am satisfied that all possible steps are taken by my Department and the other Departments concerned to restore the disabled man's mental and physical capacity in the shortest possible time and to the fullest possible extent so that he may become once more a self-supporting member of the community.

Mr. Brooks

Is the Minister aware that we are going to watch this side of his work very closely? Appreciation of this could be shown by hon. Members of this House. A lot is said about putting a shilling a week on pension or allowances, but we should think about the poor people who want winning back to health and strength.

Dr. Morgan

Is it not a fact that a great deal of the necessary preliminary work in connection with these cases of injury to the spine and subsequent rehabilitation has not already been done in many of the Service and voluntary hospitals before they reach the Department?

Mr. Paling

Yes, I quite agree that we are not the only people concerned in this work.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Will the Minister provide additional facilities for these cases at places like the Lyme Green Settlement, near Macclesfield, where good work is being done but more facilities are required?

Mr. Paling

We are always trying to be as up to date and modern as we possibly can.

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