HC Deb 16 July 1953 vol 517 cc2235-6
29. Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered the publication, a copy of which has been sent him, entitled, "Rheumatic Complaints in an Urban Population," issued by the British Medical Association on behalf of the authors, and, particularly, to the summary point 4; and whether, in view of this evidence of lack of treatment facilities and public knowledge of possibilities of cure in certain categories, he will have a survey made in small industrial towns.

The Minister of Health (Mr. lain Macleod)

I am aware of this report, which provides evidence of reluctance to seek medical advice for rheumatic complaints rather than of lack of facilities. Although this exploratory work is of great interest it does not yet warrant a great dispersion of effort from other research on rheumatic diseases into widespread inquiries of the kind suggested.

Mr. Snow

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since I put down the Question there has been a corroborative report from a different source? Does he agree that rheumatism is one of the major causes of absenteeism? Is not one of the problems which he ought to consider the fact that the rheumatologist is not considered to be of consultant status by his Department? Is it not a fact that the physiotherapy departments are congested by cases referred to them by orthopaedic surgeons who have no specialist knowledge of the direct applications recommended by rheumatologists?

Mr. Macleod

I would be the last to deny the drain upon the health of the people which rheumatic complaints produce. As for the consultant-rheumatology point, I recently received a deputation on that matter and I think we satisfied them to some extent. What I said in my reply to the Question was that I did not think widespread inquiries would add to our knowledge here, although I have not the slightest doubt that further investigation, perhaps by the same team, would be of great value.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Is my right hon. Friend aware that certain regional hospital boards have no specialist facilities for the treatment of rheumatism, and will he ensure that throughout the whole of the country there are facilities whereby rheumatism can be diagnosed and given the appropriate treatment?

Mr. Macleod

I should like to look into that.