HC Deb 26 July 1967 vol 751 cc175-6W
Mr. George Craddock

asked the Minister of Health what steps he has now taken to obtain sufficient information from the Association for Aid to the Elderly in Government Institutions to enable full inquiries to be made into the allegations made by the author of the book, "Sans Everything"; and what action he now proposes to take.

Mr. K. Robinson

The answers to both parts of the Question are summarised in a letter to A.E.G.I.S. of 21st July as follows:—I have received your letter of 19th July, which you have released to the Press. This reply is being similarly released. In my letter of 29th June I said that if you would inform the Minister in confidence of the identity of the hospitals referred to in Chapter 3 of "Sans Everything", it would enable independent investigations to be made into the situation at these hospitals and also that it would be helpful if some of the wards which were the subject of complaint could be identified. Your reply said that this seemed eminently reasonable but that A.E.G.I.S. would like to know exactly what type of independent inquiry the Minister had in mind. On 30th June I wrote saying that the form of any inquiries would depend on the nature and extent of the information given to the Minister but that in any event he would arrange for the inquiries to he carried out by a legally qualified chairman from outside the National Health Service, probably assisted by other persons unconnected with the hospital concerned. Your letter of 3rd July stated that the type of investigation offered was of course satisfactory and you gave the names of hospitals without, however, stating which of the alleged incidents had occurred at which hospital. In my letter of 5th July I said that it would greatly facilitate inquiries if you would let me know which parts of Chapter 3 related to which hospital and would also give the address of one hospital which could not be identified from the name alone, which you had provided. You then asked whether any information supplied to the Minister in confidence and at his request would be covered by privilege; and I replied that I was advised that qualified privilege would attach to letters of complaint addressed to the Minister. Now, over two weeks after your letter expressing satisfaction with the type of investigation offered, you suggest that the appointment by a hospital board of a legally qualified chairman from outside the National Health Service would in some way constitute a breach of faith, and might prejudice the independence of inquiries. On the strength of this innuendo, you ask a number of further questions about the form and scope of the inquiries. The first purpose of the proposed inquiries would be to investigate as thoroughly as possible the substance of the allegations that have been made in "Sans Everything". Any further action or inquiries would depend upon the results of this investigation. The Minister, contrary to the implications in your last letter, is certainly no less concerned than is A.E.G.I.S. to uncover the truth and he regrets that you are unwilling to provide the information that would have enabled the inquiries into the allegations to be made as thoroughly as he would desire. He has now concluded that no more time should be lost in unfruitful correspondence, and he is therefore proceeding with the arrangements for independent investigations without further delay, in so far as the limited information provided by A.E.G.I.S. permits further useful inquiries to be made.

Forward to