HL Deb 13 November 1958 vol 212 cc499-500

3.9 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is their policy to act on the unanimous opinions of the Report, dated 1957, of the Pædiatric Committee of the Royal College of Physicians in relation to the care of children in hospital, and, in particular, to have regard to the view of the Committee that "there is no doubt that special children's hospitals offer the best service for children, because the staff, at all levels and in all departments, is attuned to the special needs of the sick child ".]


My Lords, my right honourable and learned friend fully recognises the merits of special children's hospitals, but does not consider that they should necessarily override all other considerations. He certainly does not rule out the use of children's units in general hospitals, as is also envisaged by the Pediatric Committee of the Royal College of Physicians. The right form of provision in a particular area would depend on the circumstances of the area and would be a matter for decision by the hospital board concerned in the first instance.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Earl. Could he give your Lordships an idea of what considerations would lead the Minister to override this unanimous recommendation of the most eminent members of the medical profession?


My Lords, I think the answer in general to the noble Lord would be that in particular areas where it was more suitable to have a children's ward in an existing hospital that would be the case, and at the same time, of course, the staff looking after the children would be specially trained. I know that one of the considerations that my right honourable friend would take into account is the question of visiting. I think all your Lordships would agree that probably one of the most important things in the care of children is that the parents should be able to visit them whenever possible, and a small children's hospital in an area which might be accessible to the few but not the many would not really achieve what the noble Lord, I know, wants.


My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that this is the first time that we have heard of this reason for having the beds in a general hospital —so that parents may visit? Is not the fact that children should be looked after by staff accustomed to looking after children much more important than that parents should visit them?


My Lords, I am sorry if I did not make it clear to the noble Viscount. I tried to point out that the staff in those wards in a general hospital would be those who are trained to look after children.


My Lords, would the noble Earl bring to the attention of his right honourable friend that there is considerable concern about a hospital, which is I think in the Croydon area and which has for a long time been wholly a children's hospital, with all the tradition and all the intensified experience of a children's hospital, but into which the regional board propose now to introduce adult patients? It will make it most difficult if there is a sudden outbreak of illness or epidemic among children.


My Lords, I will certainly bring that to the notice of my right honourable friend.