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

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London County Council 1942

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

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In addition to the above, the Council's Sheffield Street Hospital (78 beds)
continued to take cases of pregnant women suffering from venereal disease, and at
Queen Mary's Hospital for Children, Carshalton, the unit (36 beds) for children
suffering from congenital syphilis and vulvo-vaginitis continued its work.
In order to reduce the dangers to public health and the drain on man-power
caused by the spread of the diseases, an intensive publicity campaign was inaugurated
by the Ministry of Health. The dangers of the diseases and the necessity for early
and continuous treatment were publicised by radio, by posters and in the daily press.
On 1st April, 1942, the Central Council for Health Education had, by arrangement
with the Ministry of Health, assumed the functions hitherto discharged by the
British Social Hygiene Council in relation to educational work on the prevention
and treatment of venereal diseases. In a circular dated 8th January, 1943, to
medical officers of health, the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health stated
that it might be thought desirable to present information about V.D. as part of
health education generally rather than in isolation. The practice and literature
of the Central Council were devised with this in view.
On 27th March the Ministry of Health informed medical officers of health of
County Councils and County Borough Councils that the Minister of Health regarded
the education of the public in the dangers of venereal diseases as particularly urgent,
owing to the increase of the incidence of the diseases. Local authorities were asked
to consider what further steps should be taken to meet the needs in their respective
areas and to make full use of the services offered by the Central Council for Health
Education. The subject of V.D. propaganda was discussed from time to time with
representatives of the Central Council by officers of the department. The Central
Council arranged many meetings and cinema exhibitions in London for various
A.R.P. units and youth committees, in spite of some difficulty in finding suitable
public halls. Open-air meetings were also held in Hyde Park. A letter, sent to the
Central Council for use as an introduction to business firms, enabled a large number
of employees of firms in the London area to be instructed.
During the year all four main line railway companies agreed to display in
conveniences at their stations posters giving details of the treatment facilities in
London. In addition, the London Passenger Transport Board consented to affix
similar posters in Underground Station lavatories. Posters are now in position in
most of these places.
With a view to giving further publicity to the facilities provided under the
London and Home Counties V.D. Scheme, approval was obtained for the insertion
of advertisements in the daily press stating the names and addresses of the hospitals
and clinics.
33 b
The system of voluntary attendance for treatment under conditions of secrecy
and free of charge, which has obtained since 1916, has met with a large measure of
success; but, in order to deal with the problem presented by infected persons who
decline to attend voluntarily for treatment and who consequently act as sources
of infection, Defence Regulation 33B (providing for compulsory treatment of venereal
diseases in certain circumstances) was added to the Defence (General) Regulations
towards the close of the year. The instructions to local authorities were not received
during 1942 and no action under this Regulation had therefore been taken at the
end of the year.
Treatment of tuberculosis
The number of patients' names on the dispensary registers at the end of the
year was 20,527, compared with 19,800 at the end of 1941, and 21,740 at the end of
The dispensary service continued to function satisfactorily having regard to
war conditions. The tuberculosis officers for Camberwell and Hammersmith joined
His Majesty's Forces, entailing a revision of the arrangements in these boroughs.

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