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

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London County Council 1940

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

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The number of beds occupied by patients under the tuberculosis scheme on 31st December, 1940, was as follows (corresponding figures for 1939 being given in brackets):—

Council's special hospitals and sanatoria971 (853)400 (496)
Council's general hospitals574 (787)4 (8)
Voluntary institutions1,286 (1,128)69 (55)
Total2,831 (2,768)473 (559)

The loss of beds in the Council's general hospitals owing to enemy action, and in
the special tuberculosis hospitals due partly to this reason and partly to reservation
for casualties or in consequence of evacuation, compelled the taking of a larger
number of beds in voluntary institutions. Certain of these institutions situated
near the east and south-east coasts were also evacuated. Additional beds were,
however, obtained in other voluntary establishments normally used by the Council,
but it became necessary to obtain beds in hospitals and sanatoria in other areas more
distant from London—notably the West and North Ridings of Yorkshire. The
number of beds obtained was roughly sufficient throughout the year.
The provision for thoracic surgery previously made at centres within or near
London had to be modified during the year owing to the disturbing effects of air
raids on tuberculous patients undergoing surgical operations. Full use was made
of the facilities for such treatment at King George V Sanatorium and Pinewood
Sanatorium. The special accommodation for this form of treatment is limited,
particularly for women, and has been under considerable pressure throughout the
year, in spite of the fact that some relief has been given by a certain amount of this
work being done in Emergency Medical Service hospitals.
The facilities for observation of patients, for diagnostic and for treatment
purposes, were necessarily reduced by the closure of wards at Brompton and the
London Chest Hospitals as well as the complete closure of St. George's Home.
The need for these facilities was largely met by the remaining available accommodation
at Brompton and the London Chest Hospitals, and, in some cases, by admitting
patients to King George V and Pinewood Sanatoria for diagnostic observation and
to Colindale and Grove Park Hospitals for observation as to treatment necessary,
or, in selected cases, direct to sanatoria.
of patients
In December an enquiry of borough medical officers revealed that, although in
September at the commencement of heavy enemy bombing a large number of
tuberculous patients used public shelters, very few still continued to make use of
them. Some patients had been persuaded by tuberculosis officers to remain in
private shelters or otherwise at home ; others of their own accord preferred to remain
at home. A number of these public shelter patients were admitted to general
hospitals or to sanatoria. Efforts were being continued at the end of December
to persuade the remainder of the patients having positive sputum to cease using
public shelters, admission to residential institutions being offered, where necessary,
as an alternative.
Use of public
Mental defectives
On 31st December, 1940, 11,666 defectives were being dealt with by the Council
under the provisions of the Mental Deficiency Acts, 1913-38. Of these, 7,028
were at institutions, 459 under guardianship, 3,838 under supervision and 341 in
places of safety awaiting action. The large number of defectives in places of
safety was due to war conditions. During the year 882 persons were examined with
the following results: feebleminded, 711; imbecile, 70; idiot, 9; morally
defective, 2; not defective, 90.