§ THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH rose to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War what arrangements are made at Whittington Barracks (Lichfield) for providing accommodation for nurses and hospitals for the women and children in the barracks.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have given the noble Lord notice of this Question, 395 but if he is not in a position to answer the particular point raised I have no doubt he will be able to inform me what is the usual practice and what system does exist in garrison towns for providing nurses and hospital accommodation. My attention has been called to the want of this accommodation in the case of Whittington Barracks, which are situated within three miles of Lichfield. It is a large garrison, and there are connected with it 242 women and 509 children. I am told that there is no sort of hospital accommodation for the women or any provision as to nurses. The local Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association has for the last few years provided a nurse to look after these women and children, but she is now on leave. She had to go away because there was considerable danger of her health breaking down, and the cause of that was the impossibility of procuring suitable lodgings in the neighbourhood of the barracks. That we hope, in course of time, to overcome; but as a matter of fact the nurse has had to go on leave, and there is no one to look after the women and children connected with this garrison. Whatever is done by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association is, of course, private effort, and does not absolve the Government from responsibility in this respect. It has been suggested to me that there ought to be some form of women's hospital, or at any rate some military nursing sisters, to look after the women and children in these big garrison towns. By the July Army List I see that there are attached to the garrison of York five of these nursing sisters. I believe Lichfield has a larger garrison than York, and I am told that Lichfield has none of these nurses allotted to it. I hope that the noble Lord will undertake that full inquiry shall be made, and that he will find out the actual state of the case at Lichfield.
My Lords, the noble Earl was kind enough to send me notice of this Question, but I have not had time to inquire into the specific case. I can, however, tell your Lordships what is our general policy in matters of this kind. In certain of our larger garrisons we do maintain military hospitals. We also maintain them for some of the smaller garrisons if a civil hospital is nowhere within reach. We do not, however, maintain hospitals in what may be considered the smaller garrison towns. But where we have these 396 military hospitals, if there are more than 100 beds for soldiers we also maintain a certain number of beds and cots for women and children. We do not, however, recognise any actual responsibility with regard to that. In Lichfield we have not got a military hospital, and I am afraid we do not propose to maintain anything there in the nature of a hospital for women and children. We quite recognise and arc grateful for the work done by the organisation of which I think the noble Earl is the head in that county-, which maintains a nurse there. These women and children when they require special treatment can be admitted to the civil hospital, and if they do not require that they receive medical attendance in their own quarters. That is our general rule with regard to places such as Lichfield, and I am afraid it would be useless for me to hold out any hope to the noble Earl of our being able to modify that.