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

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London County Council 1912

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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Annual Report of the London County Council, 1912.
remaining officers making it impossible for the work of inspection to be carried out efficiently. He
pointed out, moreover, that owing to improved and cheapened means of transit the character of the
population was changing, and that in the near future increased supervision would be necessary. The
result of Dr. Lennane's report was that another woman inspector was appointed, and she entered upon
her duties in the latter half of 1912.
Dr. Harris, the medical officer of health of Islington, refers in his report to the amount of work
devolving on the inspectors, and states that at times it is with the greatest difficulty that they are able
to perform it. He adds that some of the work is not such as should be performed by men, and he
again advocates, as he has done for several years past, the appointment of women health visitors.
With regard to Southwark, the Local Government Board in March, 1912, expressed disapproval
of the arrangements made by the borough council for the discharge of the duties of woman sanitary
inspector and health visitor in the borough, and instructed one of its medical inspectors to confer with
representatives of the borough council on the matter. Ultimately, the borough council decided that
the woman sanitary inspector should supervise the inspection of about 600 houses let in lodgings, the
remainder being allotted to the ward inspectors, and that a health visitor should be appointed in place
of a woman sanitary inspector who had resigned. This arrangement was approved by the Local
Government Board.
In the report relating to St. Pancras it is mentioned that the claims upon the woman inspector's
time have been so great that very little inspection of workplaces where women are employed could be
done. Upon reference to the Factory and Workshop table at the end of this report it will be seen that
there were no inspections of outworkers during the year.
The medical officer of health of Shoreditch, Dr. L. T. F. Bryett, also had occasion during the
year to report adversely upon the adequacy of the staff of the borough. As already mentioned the
average population to each sanitary inspector in Shoreditch was much above the average for London
as a whole, and the local conditions in Shoreditch do not permit of any deviation from the average in
this direction. Dr. Bryett discussed the matter fully in his report, which forms an appendix to his
annual report for 1912. After consideration, the borough council decided to increase the staff of the
public health department by the addition of two sanitary inspectors, one health visitor, and one clerk.
These officers have since been appointed. The average population to each sanitary inspector in Shoreditch
therefore is now 13,922 as against 14,570 for London.
Inspection of theatres, music-halls, etc.
Since June, 1910, officers of the public health department have carried out the duty of reporting
on the ventilation and sanitary condition of theatres, music-halls, cinematograph premises and other
places of public entertainment licensed by the Council or the Lord Chamberlain. The rapid development
of cinematograph theatres initiated in London in 1909, and continued almost without remission
until the present time, has imposed a considerable amount of work on the officers concerned. With this
special form of entertainment the absence of sunlight and the continuous nature of the performance
make the provision of adequate means of ventilation an urgent need, and but small natural facilities
exist for its satisfaction. It has, therefore, been necessary in most cases to devise a scheme of ventilation
by mechanical means. This has generally been effected by the installation of proper air inlets and of
exhaust fans in suitable positions. It is required that the fans should be capable of securing a minimum
air change of from 700 to 800 cubic feet for each person every hour. At the present time most of the
theatres and music-halls in London are mechanically ventilated, using indifferently the exhaust or
plenum systems or a combination of both.
A standard has been adopted for the provision of sanitary conveniences at places of entertainment
and this standard is being applied as opportunity arises. Inspections are constantly being made
to secure that the arrangements approved by the Council are maintained. During the year under review
this work necessitated nearly 700 reports to the Theatres and Music-Hails Committee.
Rag Flock Act, 1911.
In the last annual report reference was made to the passing of this Act which has for its object
the prevention of the use of flock made from rags unless such flock conforms to a standard of cleanliness
prescribed by Regulations made by the Local Government Board. The Board, in pursuance of
its powers, on 8th June, 1912, made regulations which came into operation on the same day as the Act,
namely, 1st July, 1912. The regulations provide that the amount of soluble chlorine in the form
of chlorides, removed by washing with distilled water at a temperature not exceeding 25 deg. C. from
not less than 40 grammes of a well-mixed sample of the flock, must not exceed 30 parts of chlorine in
100,000 parts of the flock. The possession, use, or sale of flock in contravention of the Act renders a
person liable on summary conviction to a penalty of £10 for a first offence and to a penalty of £50 for
any subsequent offence. Although the Act came into operation so late in the year local authorities
have already availed themselves of its provisions. For instance, in Finsbury six samples were taken
and four were found to be grossly polluted, whereupon all the makers and users of flock throughout
the borough were circularised and the Act brought to their notice. In Kensington, 57 premises
occupied by probable users of flock have been registered. In Poplar, seven samples were taken. In
Shoreditch, 32 samples were taken, and proceedings were instituted in 10 cases. Convictions were
obtained in seven instances, but the remaining summonses were dismissed, in two cases with costs