HC Deb 29 July 1964 vol 699 cc1411-3
21. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a statement on the typhoid epidemic, including the number of actual and suspected cases to the latest convenient date, the number of Aberdeen doctors and nurses engaged in the work, and the number of outside doctors and nurses whose help has been offered and accepted.

Mr. Noble

As the hon. and learned Member will know, the Aberdeen typhoid epidemic has been successfully contained. At its peak on 16th June there were 450 patients in hospital in the Aberdeen area; 398 confirmed and 52 suspected cases. By 28th July the number of confirmed cases had fallen to 119 and there were no new suspected cases.

The handling of the epidemic has been a combined operation by the staff of the Aberdeen City Public Health Department, the hospital service and the general practitioners in the area. The public health departments of Aberdeen and Kincardine Counties were also much involved.

The total staff deployed by the Medical Officer of Health and the Chief Sanitary Inspector for the City of Aberdeen numbered over 80. A senior medical officer from the Scottish Home and Health Department was also seconded temporarily to the medical officer of health's staff. At the height of the epidemic 35 doctors and 329 nurses—including six doctors and seven nurses from other areas and a number of retired nurses recruited for the purpose—were engaged in providing hospital and laboratory services. A considerable number of general practitioners in Aberdeen and district also carried a heavy burden.

Mr. Hughes

I thank the Secretary of State for that detailed reply. Would he agree that now that Aberdeen is entirely free of that epidemic it is one of the healthiest cities in Britain, is full of tourists—including the Queen, who has been there twice in the last month—and is very attractive for visitors in every way?

Mr. Noble

I know that the hon. and learned Gentleman and all hon. Members are delighted at the speed with which this epidemic was contained. I am delighted to hear from him that Aberdeen is rapidly getting back to normal and is full of tourists once again.

Mr. Ross

While I join with the right hon. Gentleman in congratulating the Aberdeen authorities not only on the speed with which the epidemic was contained but also on the efficiency with which they dealt with it, may I ask him if he will say to what extent he is prepared to help Aberdeen in respect of any additional expenditure which must have been incurred in containing the epidemic?

Mr. Noble

If the local authority puts up a case to my Department I will certainly consider it.

22. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when the Committee of inquiry into the Aberdeen typhoid outbreak had its first sittings; how many sittings it has had; what witnesses have been examined; and when it is now expected to report.

Mr. Noble

The Committee held its first meeting on 18th June and has met eight times in Edinburgh, London and Aberdeen; the ninth meeting is being held in Aberdeen today. Some 40 witnesses have been examined and these include, bacteriologists, microbiologists and medical officers of health who have in recent years had outbreaks of typhoid fever in their areas; evidence has also been taken from Government Departments and from the firm in whose shop the infection is thought to have occurred. A considerable number of important witnesses have still to be examined and it is not possible at present to forecast when the report will be available.

Mr. Hughes

Are the terms of reference of the Committee of inquiry sufficiently wide to enable it to take into account similar epidemics, in Croydon and other places in the south of England, for comparative purposes, with a view to seeing that Britain is kept free of invasions of this sort from abroad in future?

Mr. Noble

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Grimond

Has the Secretary of State noticed that certain varieties of pressed beef have disappeared from the Tea Room of the House of Commons? I have been told that this has been due to suspicions of typhoid. Has there been any general ban placed on any types of meat? Has there been a general withdrawal?

Mr. Noble

No. There has been no withdrawal, outside the specific cans from the specific establishments of which the House was informed.

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