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

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Hammersmith 1932

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Hammersmith Borough]

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Grant-aided Midwifery Service, Queen Charlotte's
Hospital.—During the year the Midwives practising in
the Borough complained to the Ministry of Health that
their work was being largely taken away from them owing
to the small fee charged by the district services of Queen
Charlotte's Hospital. The complaint was referred by the
Ministry to the London County Council as the Midwives'
Supervising Authority for investigation.
A conference was held at the County Hall between
representatives of the London County Council, Queen
Charlotte's Hospital and the Midwives', to which I was
invited. The Chairman of the Central Public Health
Committee presided.
After some considerable discussion the matter was left
in my hands to investigate, and if possible, find a satisfactory
way out of the difficulty.
I had several interviews with the Hospital Authorities
and the Midwives separately, and some conferences of
both parties were held in my room.
Finally it was agreed that the Hospital should charge
those mothers who could afford to pay, the same fee as
would be charged by the Midwives, and adopt a method
of assessing the others according to income, following
the practice of the Public Health Department for the
assessment of cases admitted to "Parkside" and
"Invermead" Maternity Homes, but modified to suit
district work.
One cannot but sympathize with the Midwives in their
complaint at their diminishing practice. This, however,
seems almost inevitable as the entrance of Queen Char
lotte's Charity into the Borough is not the only factor
affecting the position.
The loss is due as much to the falling Birth Rate as
to any other factor.
In 1920 the total births in Hammersmith amounted to
3,312, since when it has steadily fallen to 1,940 in 1932,
a loss of 1,372 births in a year, sufficient to give full-time
employment to about 10 midwives.