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

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Hackney 1968

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Hackney]

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The 7 day nurseries in the Borough have continued to offer accommodation
mainly to the children of unsupported mothers or where a health reason exists
either of the child or one of the parents. The service has at times been in
serious straits owing to a shortage of staff. There appears to be a great
dearth of suitable students coming forward for training.
The special schemes operated in past years have continued, one for
children with a hearing defect, to enable them to spend a certain time in a
speaking community, and another for severely subnormal children, for whom no
places are available in the special care unit. Only a small proportion of
the total number of places can be allotted to these children since they
require very close attention. Children in the first category make very
good progress as a rule, and a certain amount of socialisation occurs in the
second, and in addition, mothers are relieved for limited periods of the heavy
burden of caring for them.
At the end of the year a replacement of Fernbank Day Nursery and a new
day nursery in Holly Street were being planned and were included in submissions
to the Department of Health and Social Security under the Urban Aid Programme.
Creches are held in four of the child health centres and have as usual
been full. Many children whose need is stimulation and play with others
benefited considerably from attendance and they are a valuable addition to the
day nursery service. The total number of sessions numbered 957 and 14,425
attendances were made.

The table below shows the number of sessions and attendances during the ye ar:-

CentreNo. of sessionsTotal attendances
Barton House1031,817
Elsdale Street2021,778
Richmond Road1482,079
John Scott Health Centre5048,751

The Nurseries and Child-Minders Regulation Act, 1948, has proved to be a
difficult Act to administer and unsatisfactory in certain respects and the
need for amendment has been apparent for some time. Section 60 of the Health
Services and Public Health Act, 1968, sets out amending legislation to the
Nurseries and Child Minders Regulation Act, 1948, in some important details.
The Act of 1948 applied only where children were looked after for the
day or a substantial part thereof. The amendment provides for registration
when children are minded for a minimum period of two hours in the day
(or an aggregate of two hours).
Probably the most important amendment is that bringing all minders of
unrelated children within the scope of the registration provisions and the
increased penalties for minding by unregistered persons.
A local health authority in the past had power to refuse to register
premises or child-minders if the local authority was satisfied that the
premises were not fit to be used for the purpose. Fitness has now been more
clearly defined to include equipment.