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

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West Ham 1953

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

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years. It is also significant that residential open-air schools which accepted some of our
children now have vacancies whereas previously there were long waiting lists. The view held
at the present time is that children who have respiratory and other diseases or those who are
severely debilitated need a period of residence ordinarily not less than six months and
debilitated children from poor homes need a period of residence normally not less than twelve
months. These latter children need little or no nursing care.

The authority now has four Nursery schools. Children in attendance are examined quarterly and the results are set out below:-

Number examinedNumber found to require treatmentPercentage found to require treatment

When the children were examined for the first time during the year, their general condition, using the Ministry of Education classification, was assessed as follows:-

Number examinedGoodPercent-agePairPercent-agePoorPercentage

The great reduction in the percentage of poor general condition from 2.8 in 1952 to
.78 this year corresponds with the reduction noted In connection with periodic Inspections in
primary and secondary schools and is probably due to the personal factor of the examining
medical officers.
The defects which are most frequently found at the medical inspections are bronchitis
and catarrhal conditions of the upper respiratory passages, and enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
The importance of medical supervision of nursery schools lies in the opportunity to
detect the earliest beginnings of disease at a stage when remedial measures are comparatively
easy to apply and may prevent the development of mor serious trouble.
The nursery school is to some extent an observation centre, both medically and socially,
where the progress of health and development of character can be carefully watched and guided
in the child's best interests.
In addition to the medical examination of the children facilities are also given to the
medical officers to observe the environmental conditions and to make a critical assessment of
their value in promoting health.
The risk of specific infections is minimised by advocating immunisation against
diphtheria, isolation of infected children, and so on. A well planned and well run nursery
school with good open-air life, space, adequate clothing, and a really high standard of feeding,
will ensure the well-being of the children, increase their resistance to disease and reduce the
risk of infection.