Hints from the Health Department. Leaflet from the archive of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Credit: Wellcome Collection, London
[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Harrow]
Section 47—National Assistance Act 1948
Section 47 of this Act enables the Court on the application of the
Medical Officer of Health to grant an order for the removal of a person
in need of care and attention to a welfare home or hospital. Seven clear
days notice of an intended application must be given but the National
Assistance (Amendment) Act 1951 permits immediate removal provided
the Medical Officer of Health and another registered medical practitioner
certify that it is in the interests of the person to remove him without delay.
Under the amending Act the period for which a person can be detained
in the first instance is three weeks. These Acts are usually invoked in the
case of a person who (a) is suffering from grave chronic disease or, being
aged, infirm or physically incapacitated, is living in insanitary conditions
and (b) is unable to devote to himself and is not receiving from others
proper care and attention.
In practice, every effort is made to solve the problem by using the
home help service, the home nursing service and the help provided by
voluntary bodies, etc. and only invoking action under the Acts as a last
resort when everything else has failed.
During the year action under the above Act was considered is one
case. This concerned an elderly lady who was living in very insanitary
conditions. She was an extremely independent old person and very
resistent to all offers of help. When it became obvious that her condition
had deteriorated to such an extent that her health was in danger, it was
decided that the only course of action left was to make application under
Section 47 for her removal to a place where she could receive proper care
and attention. Arrangements were practically completed when she
suddenly agreed to go into hospital for treatment. Her condition soon
improved and she was eventually transferred to a home for the elderly
where she settled down and is now extremely happy in her new surroundings.
Medical Arrangements for Long-Stay Immigrants
Long stay immigrants are often very unfamiliar with our customs and,
in particular, ignorant of the scope and arrangements of the National
Health Service. Accordingly at ports of arrival they are given a hand-out
printed in languages which they are likely to understand, the aim of which
is to encourage them to get on to the list of a medical practitioner in their
place of residence. Destination addresses are also forwarded to the health
department so that they can be visited to try and persuade them to act on
the advice given in the pamphlet. Special emphasis is placed in trying to
secure a chest X-Ray as soon as possible after their arrival in this country.
country. This is particularly so from those whose country of origin has a
high incidence of tuberculosis.
Details of immigrant families with children
are particularly noted so that a health visitor can call and advise.