HC Deb 25 January 1951 vol 483 cc292-4
39. Mrs. Braddock

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the concern in Liverpool at the inability to obtain hospital beds for acutely ill persons, especially aged persons; and what steps he is taking in the matter.

Mr. Marquand

Even during the recent heavy pressure, 92 per cent. of urgent cases have been admitted within 24 hours through the Emergency Bed Bureau, and half the remainder within a day or two. Hospitals have met the situation by restricting admissions of other cases and by early discharge where possible.

Mrs. Braddock

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this action was taken only after the worst of the epidemic was over? Is he aware that it was very difficult to obtain admission for elderly people into hospital, many of whom died before they got into hospital?

Mr. Marquand

That is not the information I have. I am advised that of 2,379 applications during the six weeks 3rd December to 20th January, the Emergency Bed Bureau admitted all but 180 in 24 hours and half the remainder in a day or two.

Mr. Bevins

Is it not a fact that while the influenza epidemic in Liverpool has been at its height thousands of families have been without coal, and that it was only last week when the Minister of Fuel and Power increased supplies?

40. Mrs. Braddock

asked the Minister of Health if he will consider taking action to ensure that cases are not refused in any hospital while there are empty beds available.

Mr. Marquand

Admissions to hospital must be locally controlled, and I have no reason to think that hospitals are refusing to admit patients for whom beds can be made available.

Mrs. Braddock

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the most prominent hospitals in Liverpool refused point blank to take in a case during the epidemic of influenza while they had at their disposal over 40 empty beds? Will he take steps to see that this sort of thing is prevented?

Mr. Marquand

It is obviously impossible for me to reply to an allegation of that kind without notice. I wish that my hon. Friend would put that kind of question on the Order Paper in the first place.

Mr. Iain MacLeod

Is not part of the trouble because there is now no statutory undertaking on the part of hospitals to admit the acute sick, and that there has been such an obligation since 1601 up to 1948?

42. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Health what special provisions he has made to increase the number of hospital beds available, during the months of this January and February, for the urgent cases now awaiting treatment in the county of Kent.

Mr. Marquand

Hospitals have been asked to give priority to urgent cases by accelerating discharges and delaying admissions from waiting lists as far as it is medically justifiable to do so.

Mr. Bossom

That does not answer the Question at all. Would the right hon. Gentleman tell me what provision he has made for the next two months, as we have a great amount of illness and no capacity in the hospitals to look after the sick? As the Government have taken over financial control, there is nothing much that can be done about the situation locally.

Mr. Marquand

The figures for Liverpool show that the local people, when confronted with an emergency of this kind, exercised all expedition and reasonable care and did their best in the circumstances. I cannot believe that the hospitals in Kent cannot do as well as Liverpool when faced with a sudden emergency.

Major Guy Lloyd

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware what a pleasant change it has been not to have truculent and uncivil replies from the Minister of Health?