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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SCHOOL HEALTH SERVICE
GENERAL. The year 1946 brought an increase in the
school population parallel with the rise in the general population
of the Borough. On 31st December, 1946, there were 24,655
children of all ages on the school rolls, as compared with 20,206
at the same period the previous year. This involved more work
for the School Health Service, as shown in the table on page 94.
In some respects—e.g., routine medical inspections—the increases
recorded were not as great as might have been anticipated,
largely owing to the absence of one of the medical officers, first
on military service and later on study leave. At the end of the
year some arrears of inspections remained to be picked up with
a fuller staff the following year. Further data regarding medical
inspection is given in Table I on page 95.
NUTRITION. Sound nutrition is the basis of health. This
truth has received recognition in the extensive development of
the School Meals Service. Its fundamental importance is
acknowledged by the School Health Service in the periodical
nutritional surveys carried out by the school nurses. It is aimed
to inspect each child once a term, though other calls on the
nurses' time often prevent complete fulfilment of this aim. The
weight and height are measured and a critical scrutiny is made
of the child's general condition; if the nurse is not satisfied in
any of these respects, the child is referred to the area doctor,
who will endeavour to find the cause of the poor progress and
advise appropriate measures of treatment. It is a tribute both
to the war-time rationing scheme and to the efficiency of the
School Meals Service that the number of children referred from
the surveys for further investigation is so few, and that the
number whose condition is attributable to simple lack (or unsuitability)
of food is fewer still.
During the year, 27,889 inspections were made at nutritional
surveys and 121 children referred to the school doctors for
investigation. Certain of these children were sent to the Fyfield
Open-Air School and to convalescent homes.
At these surveys, 243 children were also found to be suffering
from other unrelated conditions, and were referred to the
doctors for treatment.
67

The following Table shows the conditions found: —

Scabies30
Defective vision17
Squint4
Skin Diseases58
Blepharitis6
Conjunctivitis2
Ear defects5
Nose and Throat defects2
Other defects and diseases119
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