HC Deb 06 November 1961 vol 648 cc612-4
32. Mrs. Butler

asked the Minister of Health what research is being made into the environmental, dietetic and surgical background of poliomyelitis cases in Hull.

39. Mr. Coulson

asked the Minister of Health whether he will prepare a memorandum on the recent outbreak of poliomyelitis in Hull and the methods adopted to control it.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Enoch Powell)

I understand that the Medical Officer of Health has made extensive investigations and that he will be making his report on them.

Mrs. Butler

Is the Minister aware that many parents are concerned that so little appears to be said or published about general health precautions against poliomyelitis as distinct from innoculation? In view of the importance of investigating the causes of these outbreaks, will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Medical Officer of Health of Hull if, when he publishes his findings, he will consider putting them into simple, non-medical language for the guidance of the general public?

Mr. Powell

This will be a report, in the first instance, to the city council, but I have no doubt that any lessons arising from it will receive wide publicity and discussion.

47. Sir B. Janner

asked the Minister of Health whether he will make a statement on the supply of anti-polio vaccines in Leicester and throughout the country.

Mr. Powell

Since August, supplies to Leicester and other authorities have been less than the amounts requested owing to exceptionally heavy demands earlier this year and the failure of a large batch. I have had no request from Leicester for a special allocation.

Sir B. Janner

Is the Minister aware that the statement he is now making (indicates that he has been extremely remiss about the supply of this kind of vaccine? Will he not arrange to have a sufficient supply here to meet any emergency which may arise, in view of the very serious consequences of not being able to provide the appropriate quantity?

Mr. Powell

No, Sir; this vaccine must be regularly ordered and produced. The time-lag is approximately six months. As there was a very large vaccination campaign in the early spring following the evidence of a recurrence of polio, it was inevitable that we should be short of supplies in the autumn.

Sir B. Janner

Does not the Minister realise that in order to avoid this kind of incident recurring in future people should be encouraged to be vaccinated? Is he not prepared to conduct a campaign so that sufficient vaccine will be available to enable this treatment to be given to all people who are likely to be affected in future?

Mr. Powell

Yes, Sir. I promoted such a campaign in the spring of this year, with successful results. The consequence was that 40 per cent. more immunisations took place this year than last year.

Mrs. Castle

Is the Minister aware that there is a general shortage of anti-polio vaccine throughout Lancashire, including Blackburn, and as there has now been an outbreak of polio in Blackburn, this is causing grave anxiety? Will not the Minister take steps to increase the sources of manufacture of vaccine in order to insure against a future shortage owing to the failure of one source of supply to pass the tests?

Mr. Powell

With regard to the immediate position in Lancashire, if any local authority in special difficulties will get in touch with my Department, I will see whether I can help.