HC Deb 09 December 1952 vol 509 cc236-8
43. Mr. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that 22454808 Signalman Brian Clackett, of Birmingham, a National Service man aged 20. complained of pains in the chest on 28th September, but was not admitted to the British Commonwealth communication zone medical unit in Korea until 9th October, where he died two hours after admission; why no treatment was prescribed for him after the X-ray examination; why he was moved about for some days prior to his death; why his relatives were not informed of his illness; and what steps he is taking to safeguard the health of National Service men in Korea and to see that parents are adequately informed.

Mr. Head

I have explained to the hon. Member the exceptional difficulty of diagnosis in this case. This man was found after his death to have a tuberculous cavity so situated that it was inevitably concealed by the heart shadow in the X-ray plate and, therefore, remained undetected. It was for this reason that specific treatment for tuberculosis was not instituted, nor was he removed to base. His move to 25 Canadian Field Dressing Station on 29th September was to give him better facilities while under treatment and examination. Since until just before his death there were no indications that he was seriously or dangerously ill, his parents were not informed.

Mr. Yates

Is the Minister aware that six days after his X-ray and three days before he died he wrote to a friend and complained that nothing was done for him and that he was being moved about from place to place? As the Minister has said, he was moved to at least three different hospitals. It is difficult for parents to escape the conclusion that neglect has taken place, especially in view of the fact, to which I called his attention some time ago, that a National Service man died of tuberculosis on his way to hospital and was never treated. Secondly, will the Minister do something to prevent the mental torture which is inflicted upon parents by a telegram saying that a man died of haemorrhage of the lung when they did not know that he was ill?

Mr. Head

As I tried to explain to the hon. Gentleman, I am informed by the medical authorities that this was a quite exceptional case. By and large every effort is made to detect these diseases at an early stage, but in this particular case nobody knew what was wrong with the man, owing to the failure of the diagnosis for the reasons I have given.

Back to