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

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Walthamstow 1962

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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Scarlet Fever1180
Whooping Cough7420
Measles2, 2951
Pneumonia (notified)84100 (actual)
Meningoccal Infection50
Ophthalmia Neonatorum20
Puerperal Pyrexia432
Typhoid and Paratyphoid Fevers20
Food Poisoning140

The Infant Mortality Rate, which had been falling comparatively
slowly from 61.4 in 1921 to 44.8 in 1941, dropped almost 50 per cent
to 23 in 1951 and the mortality from infectious diseases was greatly
reduced although there were 21 deaths from influenza that year. Of
the 742 cases of whooping cough none was fatal, and Dr. Powell wrote:-
"Although the notifications of whooping cough were
nearly twice the national rate, no death from the disease
was recorded. The scheme of immunisation inaugurated by
your Council (in 1947) and continued by the County Council
has no doubt contributed materially to this position."
A total of 2,510 children had been immunised against whooping
cough, 494 in 1951.
The 1961 report was made by Dr. Watkins, Dr. Powell having
retired in 1959 after twenty-nine years as Medical Officer of Health,
and again there had been striking changes in Walthamstow. The
population, due chiefly to emigration to the New Towns, was falling
steadily and had dropped to 108,860.
Birth and Death rates at 14.4 and 12.6 compared well with
national averages and the infant mortality rate was down to 15.7.
The movement, predominantly of younger families, to homes outside
the Borough and the general increase in the expectation of life
were together producing an ageing population: more than 10 per cent
of the population were estimated to be over retiring age and health
and welfare problems among the elderly, especially those living
alone, were making increasing demands on the Department. The 1961
report contains details of a pilot survey of the elderly and a
number of papers describing the activities of the Health Department
in meeting their needs.