Vote 11. National Health Service, Scotland

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 1959.

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Photo of Mr Douglas Spencer-Nairn Mr Douglas Spencer-Nairn , Central Ayrshire 12:00 am, 12th March 1959

I should like to support, with all the feeling I have, the speeches of the hon. Ladies the Members for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) and Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mrs. McAlister). I will not follow them in a discussion of the maternity service, but my view is that it is the one thing that is not yet adequately catered for in the National Health Service.

I join my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) in saying how well the first ten years of the Service have gone. Broadly speaking, we can say that at the end of ten years the medical and hospital facilities are adequate to look after all who are ill and for as long as they remain ill. We have a service under which every child who is born able to grow up healthy is almost a guarantee that it will grow into a healthy adult.

That story is satisfactory as far as it goes, but we have three distinct problems to face—the prevention of sickness and disease, the rehabilitation of patients when released from hospital, and the care of the old so that, when we do go out, we do not have to go out after a long period of suffering from the ailments of senescence. Prevention of sickness and disease can be helped to a large extent by propaganda, and we see under Subhead K10 that Adtional provision required mainly to meet increased expenditure on health propaganda" is £8,000. It is true that our hospitals, technical institutes of all sorts—and, particularly, outstanding individuals—have produced all sorts of cures for those struck down by disease. It is equally true, and it has been emphasised over and over again during the last few years, that of all European countries we still have far and away the largest number of serious chest complaints—and, I believe, that the same is true of any country where statistics are kept.

Speaking the other day in Edinburgh, the Minister of State said that in the 17 main cities of Scotland, deaths were twice as high between mid-January and mid-February, 1959, as they were in the same period of last year. There were 468 deaths in Glasgow in 1959 as against 197 in 1958. I am no expert on these things but it is quite clear to me that that is not due to the climate of Scotland. It can be due only to one thing, and that is the pollution of our atmosphere. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has seen a pamphlet sent out, not by the Department of Health, but by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government which says "Smoke is Your Enemy." I am quite sure that the more we can do to make people realise what a terrible menace smoke is—I am speaking of smoke in the atmosphere, not tobacco smoking—the more quickly shall we reduce the very high proportion of chest complaints.

No one motoring towards Glasgow can fail to notice, even on a sunny day, that one suddenly sees a black cloud in front of one and then arrives in a city Which might be under the ground altogether, while all round about there is sunshine. We have the Clean Air Act. The most important thing today is for the Scottish Office to ensure that local authorities are made to make full use of it. People in their homes, also, must be made to realise the added dangers which they put into the atmosphere unless they install new and modern forms of heating appliances.

Turning to the rehabilitation of patients after discharge from hospital, I want to ask my hon. Friend whether any steps have been taken or are being taken to implement that part of the Piercy Report which recommended the setting up of resettlement clinics to help people who are left with some disability after they come out of hospital. If a person cannot find a job after he comes out of hospital, and if he still has some disability, deterioration sets in fairly rapidly. I hope that we shall have news of something being done to establish such clinics.

I should be out of order if I went on to discuss the position of old people, but I hope that it will be appreciated more and more that if people are not to suffer from the ills of senescence in later life they must be kept at work, or they must be given opportunities to take up hobbies or be encouraged to take up voluntary work. We all look forward to the time when people can live happily and, so far as they are able, actively, until they die and not have to suffer a long period of ill-health or neurosis.