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

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City of London 1960

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London, City of ]

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A firm of pigeon catchers is employed under contract by the City Corporation whose policy is
not entirely to exterminate all pigeons but to control their numbers to such proportions as will
ensure that the pleasure they give to residents and visitors is not outweighed by the nuisance
they cause.
During the year approximately 2,400 pigeons were humanely trapped and killed as opposed
to 12,000 and 12,000 in 1959 and 1958 respectively. It is generally held that the number of
London pigeons is growing but the contractor, by increasing his efforts, has been successful in
maintaining the City pigeon population at a steady level. This claim is supported by the fact
that only four complaints of nuisance caused by these birds were received during the year. In
each instance intensive trapping in the area affected mitigated the nuisance.
It is estimated that the daytime pigeon population of the City can be counted in thousands,
but that eighty per cent of the pigeons leave the City with the home-going workers to spend the
night in various metropolitan boroughs. The contractor usually operates in the evening and at
week-ends when the City is quiet, largely because his work has frequently been impeded by
misguided though well intentioned members of the public who shout and frighten the birds, thus
preventing them from being trapped. During the latter part of the year, however, obstruction by
this type of person decreased, presumably because the public are beginning to realise the necessity
for controlling the numbers of these birds. It is hoped that such enlightenment will continue
as in the light of the foregoing remarks more daytime trapping will obviously become necessary
in order to prevent an increased City population, unless, of course efforts of other local authorities
are successful in catching birds during the night.
It is also considered that ninety per cent of the problem is due to office staffs feeding the
birds on open spaces and even throwing scraps of food onto their own window ledges. It will be
realised, therefore, that the pigeon problem cannot be really satisfactorily dealt with without the
intelligent co-operation of the general public.
Human remains which are unearthed in the course of excavation are with the sanction of the
Home Office, the Ecclesiastical Authorities, the City Coroner and the City Police reverently
re-interred in an approved burial ground or cremated at an established crematorium.
During the year all human remains interred in the churchyards of St. John Zachary, Gresham
Street and St. Stephens, Coleman Street, were excavated and taken to other Cemeteries where
they were reverently re-interred. In both instances, the burials had occurred many decades ago.
All excavation and transport to the Cemeteries was carried out under the supervision of a representative
of The Medical Officer of Health.
The City Corporation had for some years been considering the possibility and practicability
of inaugurating a scheme in the City to provide, for members of the public, free examination for
the purposes of diagnosing whether a person is suffering from cancer or not, and by publicity to
encourage people to take advantage of this scheme, so as to ensure that if the disease is present
it is diagnosed and treated in its early stages.
The Governors of St. Bartholomew's Hospital who were approached in this connection were
very helpful and co-operative and as a consequence a clinic for the early laboratory diagnosis of
cancer in certain organs of women has been established in that Hospital.
The Corporation have no statutory powers to spend money on work of this nature out of rates
but are doing so out of City's Cash. The initial report prepared by St. Bartholomew's Hospital
on the work of this clinic follows
"Period : 4th January — 26th September, 1960.
Attendances: 221 to date.
Appointments booked to 28th November — approx. 9 weeks ahead.
Abnormal smears : Age distribution :
Class IV: 1 (under investigation) 35—44:103
Class II: 3 45—54:91
Total 221
Patients asymptomatic (attending solely because the Clinic is a good idea): 124
Patients asymptomatic who mention a family history of carcinoma: 20
Patients asymptomatic who mention previous gynaecological treatment: 21
Hysterectomy:— Total: 3
Sub-total 5
Undetermined 1
D. & C.: 4
Radium menopause: 1
Ovarian or Tubal: 4
Unspecified: 1
Repair: 2

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