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

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West Ham 1946

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for West Ham]

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domiciliary cases was this help given. It is hoped to extend this
facility to many more mothers in the near future, and to arrange
for the training of midwives at present not qualified in this
respect.
INSTITUTIONAL CONFINEMENTS. The increase in the
birth-rate has produced a corresponding call on the services of
the three local maternity hospitals, as stated in the early part of
this report. As a result of gross overcrowding of the maternity
wards at Forest Gate Hospital, more selective measures for
admission were instituted.

TABLE II

Showing the use of maternity beds in West Ham in 1946

HospitalNo. of Maternity bedsTotal admissionsTotal West Ham residents admittedNo. of Confinements
TotalWest Ham residents
Forest Gate662159129919961203
Queen Mary's, E.1536822280736254
Plaistow Maternity, E.136011806811180681
match: ALTO ComposedBlock
..\01 May 2013\Folder 9\b19881502\Tables\b19881502_0041_039_028.xml

Accommodation for expectant mothers in need of hospital
treatment was provided at each hospital to a total of 20-24 beds,
in which 446 women were treated during 1946 for some
abnormality or complication of pregnancy.
The Government Evacuation Scheme remained open in 1946
to mothers from the Greater London area. Such women were
selected as requiring institutional care because of unsuitable home
conditions, or for whom no provision could be made locally. The
mothers were sent away each week by arrangement with the
London County Council to certain emergency maternity homes
within a reasonable distance from London. The women travelled
in special parties, accompanied by midwives, usually about three
weeks before the date of expected confinement. This scheme has
been of great help in the difficult task of obtaining hospital
accommodation for needy cases, so that 111 West Ham mothers
were able to be sent away from unsuitable homes to the ante-natal
hostels and later to the emergency maternity homes, where they
received under excellent conditions the rest and care they
required.
The majority of these women benefited greatly from this
change and rest prior to confinement, and expressed themselves
on their return as having enjoyed the period of evacuation.
CARE OF THE UNMARRIED MOTHER AND HER
CHILD. The illegitimate birth-rate for 1946 was 1.45 per 1,000
population. Although the majority of unmarried mothers were
39


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