HC Deb 16 July 1953 vol 517 cc2228-9
16. Mr. Gower

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he will take to ensure that persons who have suffered some vital disability, or some illness causing permanent effects, shall not be passed as fit by his Department's medical boards; and that, in particular, the medical history of all National Service men shall be considered by those boards whenever possible.

The Minister of Labour (Sir Walter Monckton)

I am examining closely the working of the National Service medical boards with a view to ensuring that the number of cases where men are not graded correctly according to the standards laid down—which I believe to be proportionately very few—is kept to a minimum.

With regard to the last part of the Question, I would assure my hon. Friend that medical boards are already required to go very fully into the personal and family medical histories of every man and to obtain reports from his medical practitioner or from any hospital by which he has been treated in any case where this appears likely to help to resolve a doubt as to his fitness.

Mr. Gower

While thanking my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply, and appreciating that it is obvious that all these particulars cannot be made available in every case, may I ask whether he will try to ensure that whenever a National Service man complains of a long-standing disability or of a severe illness causing permanent effects, every attempt will be made to make available to the board an accurate record of the man's health?

Sir W. Monckton

It is not easy to ensure that in all cases the medical record goes forward, but in cases where there is doubt instructions have been given, and recently repeated, that proper inquiries ought to be made either of the hospital or of the medical practitioner concerned. I should like to add that if the medical practitioner sends forward a certificate with the man, it is attached to the medical report, which is the main document concerned.

Mr. Chetwynd

Would it be possible to have placed in the Library a copy of the standards required for the different grades?

Sir W. Monckton

Perhaps the hon. Member would be assisted if I were to place in the Library a copy of the form of medical report and the various requests going to hospitals and consultants, when they are consulted, as happens in one in every seven cases.

27. Mr. Janner

asked the Minister of Labour what arrangements are made to consult medical practitioners of men being called up for National Service who inform his Department that they have been under the practitioners' treatment in respect of previous ailments.

Sir W. Monckton

If the chairman of a medical board is in any doubt about the effect of previous ailments on a man's grading he would ask the man's practitioner for a report. I am sending the hon. Member copies of forms used for this purpose. Alternatively, the chairman should send a man to a consultant for full examination.

Mr. Janner

Is the Minister aware that in the case to which he referred a few moments ago that man was sent to his medical practitioner, who has stated that he does not think the man is fit for service in Her Majesty's Forces? How is it possible for arrangements to be made for a medical practitioner to be consulted on a case—the Air Force itself having sent that man to a medical practitioner—and yet for the Army to have no idea of what has happened?

Sir W. Monckton

There is often a conflict of opinion between doctors as there is between members of other professions. I want to see, when I get the medical report, what was said by the consultant to whom the case was referred. Until I have received these things I cannot assist the House in deciding who was right or wrong.