Tuberculosis Treatment Switzerland

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1951.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 24th July 1951

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made in the selection of tubercular patients for treatment in Switzerland; on what basis is selection determined; and when are the first patients likely to leave the United Kingdom.

Mr. McNeil:

As I explained when announcing these arrangements on 10th April last, patients selected for treatment in Switzerland are normally persons in need of at least six months sanatorium care but unlikely to require any major surgical operation. Treatment in Switzerland is offered to persons recommended for sanatorium treatment in the ordinary way, where on medical grounds this particular treatment is considered appropriate by the tuberculosis physicians.

The first group of 36 patients from Scotland left on 15th June, and the second group of the same size on 18th July. It is intended that a further group should leave each month until October.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Whilst thanking my hon. Friend for that information, would he indicate what steps are being taken to give the maximum amount of publicity to these facts and figures in the T.B. hospitals and to all T.B. patients throughout Scotland?

Mr. McNeil:

I should have thought that has received wide publicity through the co-operation of the Press, but I should be glad to consider whether there is any other scheme we can utilise to bring it to the notice of the patients.

Photo of Sir Frank Medlicott Sir Frank Medlicott , Norfolk Central

Is it still a fact that only 130 beds altogether have been arranged for British patients in Switzerland? Having regard to the fact that there are upwards of 10,000 people awaiting treatment for tuberculosis, is there no hope of arranging for a far greater number of beds in Switzerland for patients from this country?

Mr. McNeil:

I must resist the attempt to make any party capital out of this and point out that this represents more beds than ever before. But I ask hon. Gentlemen to go slowly in what at this stage can only be an experiment, although it is an experiment about which I am very optimistic.

Photo of Sir Frank Medlicott Sir Frank Medlicott , Norfolk Central

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there can be no question of party capital here; it is a question of arithmetic. I am merely asking him to compare the existing number of beds, 130, with the stated number of patients, which is 10,000.

Mr. McNeil:

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman is going to press me, let me say that his arithmetic is wrong. He must multiply it by two for Great Britain, and that number gives more beds than any Opposition Member ever thought of.

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

Really, this gross attempt to make party capital must be resisted. Is the Minister not aware that he was pressed by the Opposition for many a long month before the slightest action was taken by the Government?

Hon. Members:

Oh!

Mr. McNeil:

I must confess that I am indebted to the co-operation of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman upon this subject. While I do not want to be pushed, I must repeat that the Opposition, when in power, took no special steps.

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

On that point, surely the right hon. Gentleman is aware that a much larger number of beds was available at home then?

Mr. McNeil:

indicated dissent.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Is it not right and proper that we on this side of the House should make party political capital out of this wonderful Service that was talked about so much by the Opposition but about which nothing was done?

Photo of Mr Walter Elliot Mr Walter Elliot , Glasgow Kelvingrove

May I point out that the hon. Member is seeking to disprove the statement of the Secretary of State and that an attempt is being made to make party capital out of this from his own benches?