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

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City of Westminster 1952

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Westminster, City of]

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animals. It is true to say that in all three types of food poisoning the
suspected food usually appears quite wholesome to sight, smell and taste.
During 1952 twelve outbreaks of food poisoning were reported, some
one hundred and thirty persons being affected. Forty notifications were
received in Westminster, 8 of the sufferers being removed to hospital.
In no case was the illness of more than a transitory nature. In 38
instances the notifications were subsequently confirmed, and in 2 cases
a revised diagnosis made. In my report for 1948 somewhat full reference
was made to the small incidence of food poisoning in relation to the
immense number of meals eaten away from home throughout the country
and particularly in this City. A survey was carried out in 1951-52 and
a detailed register made of all premises where food and drink were provided
and consumed on the premises. Licensed premises are included in the
register and the total comes to 3,001, exclusive of all wholesale and retail
food and provision shops. It must be noted, however, that the register
cannot remain static. Some small restaurants and cafes seem to close
down suddenly, the premises being reopened for other types of business,
while new cafes open quite unobtrusively in the same neighbourhood.
The problem of those at work in the City who are contacts of
infectious cases in their own homes in other districts is a constant source
of inquiry, mainly by telephone. Employers in the City naturally feel
anxious about other members of their staff and the conduct of their
business and they turn to the Medical Officer of Health for advice;
this is specially so when poliomyelitis is in the ascendant. These inquiries
take up a good deal of time but it is an important part of the duties of
the Medical Officer of Health.
One advantage of having held the post of Medical Officer of Health
so long is that one has got to know intimately many of the general
medical practitioners in the City. Their co-operation and assistance
have been of the utmost value, not only in relation to infectious disease
but in other matters, such as housing, the care of the aged, etc. The
war and the needs of civil defence drew even closer together the medical
practitioners in the City and the Council's medical staff as all were engaged
in a common task. We had our regular meetings of the local medical
war committee of the British Medical Association in my office and that
committee, though no longer a war committee, meets here even now.
Another close association in which I have been privileged to play
some part is that of the teaching and other hospitals in the City, of which
there are thirteen. With Westminster Hospital in particular there has
been a specially close link for more than thirty years. This hospital
and medical school, where I have been a member of the teaching staff
for more than twenty-five years, have for many years been Carrying out
on behalf of the Council various medical services to the great benefit
of the people of Westminster. No closer union between a municipal
body and a teaching hospital can be found anywhere in London. The
hospital has also rendered personal services of inestimable value to
members and staff of the Council, which are warmly appreciated and
(6889) A 4

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