HC Deb 28 February 1955 vol 537 cc1706-7
22. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Health what new instructions he has now issued as the result of his investigations into the various methods of identifying babies in maternity hospitals; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I am glad to have this chance of giving the result of my inquiries. The most common and satisfactory system seems to be to attach a bracelet (or two bracelets) to the baby at birth (or to both mother and baby), with a corresponding label for the cot. The sewing of a marked tape round the wrist seems both simple and effective in the great majority of cases. Recent errors seem to be due, not to defective arrangements, but to a failure to carry them out properly. More elaborate arrangements would have no advantages, and indeed might increase the possibilities of error; the important point is that hospital staffs should be most careful in first making out the bracelet and label and in subsequently checking them from time to time. These points have been brought to the attention of the hospitals concerned through discussion at meetings between my officers and those of hospital boards.

Mr. Collins

Since the Minister seems to have decided that the bracelet method is the best would he say whether it is now being treated as standard in all hospitals? Can he also decide on the particular kind of bracelet method which should be standardised, so that nurses on moving from one hospital to another are familiar with the type of bracelet that is used?

Mr. Macleod

It is the general practice here and abroad, but it has not been laid down as absolutely standard. The problems that have arisen so far have been because nobody looked at the bracelet, and not because the bracelet was not there. Clearly, we could festoon babies with bracelets, but if nobody looked at them the difficulty could still arise.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is there any reason why the practice should not be uniform in all hospitals? Why this wide variety of methods that is at present employed, which puts a premium on mistakes?

Mr. Macleod

I should not have thought that that was so. There are different variations, but nearly all hospitals in this country have one or other variant of the bracelet method.