HC Deb 09 June 1959 vol 606 cc790-1
12. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why the mass X-raying of schoolchildren has been stopped; how much notice of this change of policy was given to local education authorities; and what alternative means are being provided for early diagnosis of tuberculosis.

Mr. J. N. Browne

The Interim Report on Radiological Hazards to Patients by the Committee appointed by my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland recommended that children should not be X-rayed by miniature film. This Report was sent to all local health authorities on 5th May, who were advised that hospital authorities had been requested to implement the recommendations. Where an X-ray of the chest of a child is considered necessary a large film should be used.

Mr. Hamilton

I am sure that everyone on this side of the House will agree that children ought not to be subject to this kind of radiation hazard. Can the hon. Gentleman indicate whether the new suggestion will prevent children from having the X-rays that they would normally have had under the original scheme?

Mr. Browne

Yes, Sir. All schoolchildren in the 13–14 age bracket are offered a tuberculin test, and 75 per cent. accept the offer. Not all schoolchildren, of course, accept the offer of miniature mass radiography and it is up to us to try to get more to accept this offer. Of the 75 per cent. who accept, three-quarters are found to be tuberculin negative and receive B.C.G. vaccination. The other quarter are T.B. positive. The hon. Member will be glad to note that the number is falling each year and for those it is up to the local authorities to arrange large films, either on a mass basis or at a clinic or hospital as appropriate.