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

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West Ham 1948

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

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The Council's policy is to secure as soon as possible the full complement of 22 Health
Visitors as set out in the proposals under the National Health Service Act. The method by
which it is hoped to obtain this object is to appoint student health visitors who, in return
for a salary received during their training, undertake to remain to the Council's service for
two years after qualification. In the meant line, candidates appointed as temporary Public
Health Nurses in order to keep the service going are chosen with a view to their eligibility
for future training, and their willingness to train as health visitors when a vacancy at a
training school can be secured for them. At the end of the year four such places had been
secured for the Course commencing in January 1949, one being at the Royal College of Nursing
and three at Battersea Polytechnic, and four students had been appointed to fill these places.
One of these students is already working in the department as a Public Health Nurse. Three
more places have been secured for the Course beginning in April 1949 so that It is hoped that
by the end of 1949 there will be seven new Health Visitors in the department.
The Superintendent Nursing Officer includes the supervision of Health Visitors among
her duties and although this takes up a considerable part of her time, it is Justified by the
increased effectiveness of the service made possible by better co-ordination of the work of
the individual members of the staff.

HOME VISITS. The Home Visits paid by the Health Visitors and Public Health Nurses are set out below:-

First VisitsTotal Visits
To Expectant mothers1,6432,7412,6936,576
To Children under 1 year4,2826,0198,60012,200
To Children 1 - 5 years1,9623,l8310,73412,825
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This means that each child under one year of age received on the average about two visits
during the first year, and that children 1-5 years received less than one visit per year. A
much greater number of home visits than this must be made if the health visitors are to get to
know the mothers and children on their districts really wells moreover, rapidly developing young
children present many problems to the mothers for which skilled advice is so helpful. Frequent
visits by someone with the status of a friend of the family are necessary if the best results are
to be obtained. Unfortunately, during the year the shortage of health visitors continued to be
acute and frequent visitation was therefore not possible.
In the meantime the few remaining Health Visitors and Public Health Nurses are doing much
good work under difficult conditions. They may take heart from the fact that it is they who have
prevented the breakdown of a service which it is hoped soon to restore to its former excellence.
CARE OF MOTHERS AND YOUNG CHILDREN® Clinics have been held regularly throughout the year
at the five Municipal Centres and also at Plaistow Maternity Hospital (in relation to the
Domiciliary Midwifery Service) and at Avenons Road, E.13. under the auspices of the South West
Ham Child Welfare Society® Altogether 9 Ante-natal and 12 Infant Welfare sessions were held
ANTE-NATAL CLINICS. 6,239 mothers attended the Ante-Natal Clinics and total attendances
reached 28,352. The Mimicipal Clinics are staffed by Medical Officers from Forest Gate Hospital
(working under the direction of Dr.H.R.England, the Medical Superintendent of that hospital) and
by Health Visitors or Public Health Nurses with considerable experience in midwifery.
The Municipal Midwives attend the clinic sessions when possible, In order to discuss their
patients with the Medical Officer. Since July 5th 1948 these Medical Officers have become employees
of the North East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board® When the Board can provide additional
medical officers it is hoped to staff the ante-natal clinics at Avenons Road on similar lines and

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