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

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Bermondsey 1927

Report on the sanitary condition of the Borough of Bermondsey for the year 1927

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details of these developments will be found in my Annual Report
for 1925.
There are two special matters I should like to refer to, namely
the taking over of the Tuberculosis Dispensary in 1921, and the
starting of a Solarium. The Dispensary was started and run
by a voluntary body, and the staff then consisted of a lady doctoran
assistant tuberculosis officer, two tuberculosis nurses, a dispenser
and a clerk. Shortly after the Council taking it over, the
lady tuberculosis officer resigned, and her post was filled by the
assistant tuberculosis officer, Dr. D. M. Connan.
One of his first acts was to re-organize the work of the Dispensary,
for although it had proved very useful prior to 1921, it
had developed somewhat on the lines of an ordinary out-patients'
department of a hospital, where, besides tuberculosis, all sorts of
cases were treated, and the patients were given very large quanstities
of medicine. When it was found that they had either recovered
from tuberculosis, or that the disease was not diagnosed as
tuberculosis, their names were, at that time, still retained on the
register. The result of all this was that the Dispensary was
overcrowded with patients, and the original purpose for which it
was founded, namely, the diagnosis of tuberculosis, the treatment
of special cases, and referring patients not treated at the Dispensary
to suitable institutions, became somewhat obscured.
The first work, therefore, of Dr. Connan was to go completely
through the records, which amounted to some 7,000 cases,
eliminating patients who had died, were not suffering from tuberculosis,
had removed from the district, and for various reasons
either were not or should not be under care of the Dispensary. To
do this the Dispensary was closed for two weeks, and special
clerks went through all the records of the cases. It was finally
decided that all cases which were diagnosed as not suffering from
tuberculosis should be immediately taken off the books, and that
the case-papers of removals and deaths be taken off the live
register, that all cases should be seen by appointment only, and
that the giving of drugs should be strictly limited.
The original purpose for which the Dispensary was made was
aptly defined by Sir Robert Phillip as a clearing house for finding

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