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. 181
In December, 1910, the Council decided to enter into agreements for one year with 14 borough
councils for the cleansing of verminous children at their stations, and to establish seven additional
stations in the vicinity of certain schools, making, with the two Council stations already established, a
total of 23 stations.
The agreements with the borough councils were subject to the following conditions :—1. The
place of treatment of children to be entirely distinct from any establishment used for the isolation of
suspected infectious disease contacts. (2) The exclusive use of the baths for the cleansing of children
to be allowed on certain days. (3) The cleansing station to be in a convenient position and the children
to be elfficiently supervised, with female attendants for the treatment of the girls. (4) A payment at
the rate of 2s. per child to be made to the borough councils in respect of the cleansing of children infested
with vermin, the payment to cover a period to the end of the calendar month subsequent to that in
which the first cleansing takes place, and within the period specified to be irrespective of the number
of baths required before a child can be regarded as cleansed. (5) The scheme to be subject to the
Metropolitan Borough Council's undertaking where necessary to deal with the homes of the children
These conditions were subsequently varied, (4) being amended so that the period covered by the
payment of 2s. is to the end of the calendar month from the date of the first cleansing, and (5) was
rescinded. It was also decided that the agreements might be entered into for three or five years, and that
when considered desirable arrangements might be made whereby both adults and children could be
cleansed at the same cleansing station, on condition that separate entrances were provided to those
sections of the station which were used by adults and by children respectively.
In districts where the borough councils had not adopted the Cleansing of Persons Act, or could
not see their way to enter into an agreement with the Council, stations were to be established and maintained
by the County Council. Each station was to serve an area approximately of a mile radius, but
the scheme did not cover the whole of London, as provision was not made for the outlying portions of
Bermondsey, Camberwell, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith, Lambeth, Lewisham, Poplar, St.
Pancras, Wandsworth and Woolwich. Further, the Corporation of the City, who agreed to cleanse
the children free of charge, will only undertake to cleanse children residing within the City ; the Borough
Council of St. Pancras will only deal with children resident or attending school within the borough;
and the Borough Council of Stoke Newington at first dealt only with children attending schools within
the borough, but have since included three schools which are outside the boundary. London
as a whole will therefore, under the scheme, be provided with stations for the cleansing of verminous
children, but there will be certain schools which are over a mile from the nearest station,and experience
has shown that in these cases there are difficulties in conveying the children compulsorily to the station.
In such schools, however, efforts are made to persuade the parents to send the children voluntarily to the
nearest station, and if advantage is not taken of the facilities offered, and the conditions are not otherwise
remedied, the children are excluded from school and proceedings instituted against the parents
or guardians, under the attendance by-laws.
At the beginning of the year 1912 cleansing was carried out at 12 stations, viz. : four L.C.C.
stations, Bath Street (Finsbury), Finch Street (Whitechapel), Fountain Road (Wandsworth) and Sedlescombe
road (Fulham), and eight borough council stations—Bermondsey, Camberwell, Hackney, City of
London, St. Marylebone, Stoke Newington, Southwark and Woolwich. Agreements had been concluded
with the borough councils of Battersea, Hampstead and Poplar and the City of Westminster, but the
cleansing work had not begun. Agreements have since been concluded with the borough councils of
Deptford, Greenwich, Islington, St. Pancras and with the Committee of St. Cecilia's House.
The last-named, which is an extra station, was not included in the Council's original proposal
to establish 23 stations. Agreements have thus now been entered into for the use of 16 borough stations
in which work is proceeding, in addition to the four L.C.C. stations above-mentioned and St. Cecilia's
The areas served by the stations are shown on the accompanying map, those belonging to the
Council being shaded. (Diagram F.)
At all these stations the Council has appointed a nurse to superintend the attendances of the
children ; she conveys them under the powers given by the Children Act, and in the case of the borough
stations, certifies the cleansing on the vouchers in respect of which the Council makes the capitation
payment. At Finch-street and Southwark extra nurses have been appointed to cope with the press of
work, and there is now a staff of 23 nurses exclusively employed at cleansing stations as compared with
ten nurses employed in 1911.

The following table shows the number of cleansings (not children cleansed) at each station:—

Council Stations —
Sedlescombe-road2,264 —10,365