HC Deb 03 March 1958 vol 583 cc822-3
42. Mrs. L. Jeger

asked the Minister of Health what facilities exist in Holborn and St. Pancras for emergency hospital admissions; whether he is aware that, owing to the large number of teaching hospitals with a discriminatory admissions policy, local doctors frequently experience difficulty in securing emergency admissions; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. R. Thompson

All hospitals in Holborn and St. Pancras admit emergencies. The emergency bed service will assist any doctor in difficulty to find a bed, if not in this district at some other hospital in the London area. If the hon. Member has any particular case of difficulty in mind and will let me have details. I shall be glad to look into it.

Mrs. Jeger

I thank the Minister for that reply. I will certainly be sending him some very difficult cases. Is he aware that one of the problems arises because teaching hospitals are exempted from the findings of the medical referee who works with the emergency bed service, and that patients who may be gravely ill are often refused admission if they do not happen to provide interesting clinical material? Will he look at that aspect of the problem?

Mr. Thompson

Yes. Teaching hospitals must necessarily discriminate to some extent in the type of patient they admit if they are to fulfil their teaching function. They must, of course, also play their part in the hospital service of the district, and we have to strike a balance. I am satisfied that, generally speaking, that is done.

Dr. Summerskill

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with the operation of the emergency bed service throughout the country?

Mr. Thompson

That is rather another question. Last winter, of course, the service was under exceptionally heavy pressure because of the influenza epidemic, but I think that it proved itself equal to the task.