London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Camden 1965

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Camden]

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Since 1 April, 1965, the priorities for admission applied by the former London County
Council have been observed. Broadly the first and second priority groups are the children whose
mothers are ill or who are the sole providers in a home; children whose health might suffer from
adverse environmental factors, or children from families in which the mother is obliged to go to
work, because the father is unemployed or his income is insufficient to maintain a home. Vacancies
not required by children in the first and second priority groups can be offered to children in a third
priority, that is whose parents are both working, provided that the mother is employed for at least
35 hours a week including mealtimes. Very few children in the third priority group were admitted
and they were only accepted on the understanding that they would have to vacate these places at
any time, should they be required for children in the higher priority categories.
In November 1965 a new priority group was introduced in order to encourage women with
skills which are of special importance to the community such as teachers, doctors and nurses, to
return to work. In view of the pressing demand for places for the other priority groups it is unlikely
that many places can be made available for this group, until more nurseries are provided.
23 children in the top priority group were on the waiting list at the end of December ,1965.
The greatest need for places was in the west of the Borough, but the closure of the South Highgate
Nursery in February 1965 had also put considerable pressure for places on the central and northeastern
areas. The South Highgate Nursery building - recently donated to the Borough by Mr. and
Mrs. Farquharson, and renamed the Konstam Centre - is to be reopened as a day nursery. Plans
have already been drawn up to convert the building to accommodate the children in small family
groups of 8 or 9 children in the full age range. A special unit for nine mentally-handicapped children
has been included, as well as a creche for 20 children.
Handicapped children
Arrangements have been made to admit deaf children, children suspected to have a hearing
loss or children with a serious delay in learning to speak, to day nurseries on the advice of a consultant
otologist or paediatrician. Such children are likely to benefit from taking part in a hearing
environment and the opportunity of socialising with other children as well as from the guidance of
trained staff in helping them to acquire speech.
Admission to day nurseries of children in this category is free, and earlier was limited to
15 hours each week. This period was not always adequate to meet individual needs and permission
has now been given to extend this period for children to whom this is likely to be of benefit.
The scheme was extended to include children with other major disabilities, such as cerebral
palsy and other neurological conditions, who might be expected to benefit from opportunities to
explore the world around them in a small family group in day nurseries, especially those who are
restricted by lack of space or play material in their own home, or by over-anxiety of their parents
for their safety.
A special unit for very young severely sub-normal children at Coram's Garden Day Nursery
was increased in September from six to nine places. The only charge is 6d a day for the mid-day
meal. This charge is the same as that made at training centres.
Private day nurseries
There are 24 private day nurseries registered under the Nurseries and Child-Minders Regulation
Act, providing 590 places. This total includes two grant-aided establishments,one of which,
Lindfield Gardens, caters for mentally handicapped children. Private day nurseries are visited by
a Principal Medical Officer and the Chief Nursing Officer at least every six months. The revised
standards of accommodation, etc. recommended by the Ministry in Circular 5/65 are applied to new
applications, and owners of existing nurseries are encouraged to bring their establishments up to
standard.
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