HC Deb 28 April 1958 vol 587 cc21-2
27. Mr. Bottomley

asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement about the outbreak of poliomyelitis in the Medway towns area.

28. Mr. Burden

asked the Minister of Health if he has yet received a report regarding the recent cases of poliomyelitis in Gillingham; and what advice regarding special allocation of vaccine has been given.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Three cases of poliomyelitis have been notified in Gillingham since the week ending 12th April, but there has been no recent notification either in Chatham or Rochester. I am advised that vaccination is not generally regarded as a suitable emergency method of checking a local outbreak of poliomyelitis, and no special allocations of vaccine are therefore made in such circumstances.

Mr. Bottomley

In view of the fact that there have been outbreaks of poliomyelitis in the towns on the River Medway for some time past, ought there not to have been a special allocation of this vaccine made much earlier? One has been made now.

Mr. Walker-Smith

No, Sir. The system adopted has been to distribute the vaccine in relation to the number of registrations. I think that probably both on administrative and other grounds that is the best procedure we can follow, especially having regard to the medical advice to which I referred in my Answer.

Mr. Burden

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that considerable anxiety has been caused in the Medway towns by suggestions in some quarters in the national Press that the father of a boy who died recently blamed the National Health Service for his death? Is my right hon. and learned Friend also aware that that man has now completely denied ever having made such allegations?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing that out. I am also grateful to his constituent for what he has said. Unhappily, it is a fact that one or two of the newspapers in this matter appear to have been behaving with less than the traditional responsibility we expect of our national Press.