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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Report of the County Medical Officer—Education.
Modifications have been introduced into the Council's schemes for securing the cleanliness of
children attending elementary schools. In the scheme which deals exclusively with children with
unclean heads provision has been made for specially communicating with parents in cases where the
condition is one of only slight degree of uncleanliness. The scheme for dealing with children suffering
with verminous bodies or clothing has been modified so as to give increased facilities for voluntary
baths so as to reduce the number of statutory notices served and to secure closer co-operation with
the local sanitary authorities for the purpose of dealing with clothing, etc., in the homes.
of Candidates.
The number of candidates for permanent appointments in the school service and candidates for
scholarship awards who were medically examined increased from 5,970 to 5,984. Special reports were
made in regard to 941 employees who were unable to carry out their duties owing to personal illness,
an increase of 178 or 23.32 per cent. In addition, 107 claims for exceptional treatment in respect of
illnesses alleged to have been contracted during the course of school duties were investigated.
The pupils in the Council's institutions for higher education and the London County Council
scholars in attendance at aided secondary schools have also been inspected and reference is made to
the physique, posture and personal hygiene of the pupils.
Open air
The open-air schools at Birley House and Shooters Hill were both kept open throughout the year;
the latter has been enlarged and the former is being transferred to a more suitable site. The Kensal
House school for tuberculous children has been continued, but the type of children admitted has undergone
some change. Graduated exercise has been given in the form of gardening instruction, games and
physical exercises, while steps have been taken for the establishment for the boys of classes in carpentry.
The playground classes have largely increased in numbers and some of them were held in the public
parks. A detailed statement with regard to these classes will be found on pages 45-55 from which the
impression is to be gained that much benefit has been derived by the children. This is obviously the
opinion held by H. T., a pupil who has contributed an account of the good resulting from her attendance
in the open air class at Eglinton-road school (see page 50).
The children examined with a view to admission to special schools were 8432, of these 3,957 were
certified as suitable for admission thereto and the remainder were either returned to the elementary
schools or found to be unsuitable for any of the Council's institutions. The results of the periodical
re-examination of the children in the schools for the mentally and physically defective, are shown in the
report and a considerable amount of time has been spent on questions relating to family history, heart
cases in physically defective schools, classes for myopes and the partially deaf. The duties and
salaries of the medical officers of residential institutions have been standardised, the dietary of the
residential industrial schools and places of detention has been placed on a uniform basis, and notes have
been made in regard to the nutrition, average height and weight, effect of residence on weight and the
illnesses and defects of children admitted to the Pentonville-road Place of Detention.
Mcdical Inspection.
The work of inspection of children in elementary schools imposed upon the Council by the
Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907, was carried out in London during the early part of
1912 by 64 quarter-time, 8 half-time and 6 full-time school doctors, and later in the year
by 30 full-time and 4 quarter-time doctors, working in districts under the direction of
four divisional medical officers. The doctors are assisted in their work by a staff of 90
nurses, who prepare the children for examination and assist in the weighing, measuring and vision
testing. When a child is found to be in need of treatment an advice card is issued and the parent, if
present, is informed. If the parent is not present the advice card is delivered at the home of the child
by the school nurse. A representative of the School Care Committee is invited to be present at the
inspection and makes arrangements for the child to obtain the treatment prescribed. Arrangements
are made for the inspection of some children in all the elementary schools in London during each term,
the date of the inspection is published in the Council's gazette, and the parents of scholars who are to
be inspected are invited to attend-
The regulations of the Board of Education require the examination of children entering school
life ("entrants") and of children reaching the school-leaving age, which is taken as 11-12 years
(" leavers "). In addition to these groups the Council's scheme provides for an examination of children
at the age 8-9 and for special and urgent cases not falling within one of these age groups.
The record of the medical examination of each child is entered on a card drawn up on the lines
of the form prescribed by the Board of Education, and from the information thus classified the tables
in the appendix (X. and XII.) are prepared.
At the time of the examination the children are weighed and measured and special note is taken
of the clothing, cleanliness of head and body, the standard of nutrition, and the condition of the teeth.
Details on these points will be found for the children in schools in each of the London boroughs. The
classification is made as to whether the conditions found were "good," "fair," or "bad."

The interest taken by the parents in the examination of their children is evinced by the numbers who were present at the examination (Appendix IX.) represented as follows :—

Children examinedParents present.Percentage.

Q 2