HC Deb 12 March 1923 vol 161 cc1080-1W

asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been called to the very high death rate which has prevailed in the Powick Mental Asylum, especially during the years 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, and 1922; and will he cause inquiries to be made as to whether the death rate in this institution is higher than in similar asylums throughout the country?


I am informed that the death rates for the years in question are as follow:

Powick Mental Hospital. All Country and borough Mental Hospitals.
Per cent. Per cent.
1916 11.2 12.5
1917 22.7 17.3
1918 32.6 20.2
1919 12.7 12.7
1922 6.7 9.0

It is seen that in only two years, i.e., 1917 and 1918, are the rates higher than the mean for all asylums. The increase for these years caused much anxiety at the time and was due to an outbreak of tuberculosis, the death rates from this cause in 1917 and 1918 being 74 and 162 per thousand of the population of the asylum. Two Commissioners of the Board of Control made a special inquiry into the matter. They found that the outbreak was due mainly to two factors: (1) subnormal (war) feeding; and (2) defective segregation—the result of overcrowding due to war conditions. It is satisfactory to note that by 1919 the death rate from all causes at Powick had drawn level with the mean for all asylums, and that in 1922 it was much below it.