Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh (Deaths)

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th November 1966.

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Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West 12:00 am, 9th November 1966

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why he made no announcement about the deaths of the six patients at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, until after a report had appeared in a Scottish newspaper.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I did not consider it appropriate to make any announcement about this occurrence while investigations were being conducted and the question of a fatal accident inquiry was being considered.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that at the time there was newspaper speculation and it was reported by the newspapers that the fatalities were due to post-operative treatment? Is it not the case that the Royal Infirmary was extremely vexed about this slur on its reputation and wanted to make a statement denying it, but was forbidden to do so by his Department?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I am not commenting on that last remark. If the hon. Gentleman wants a comment on it he will be far better to put down a Question. I deplore, as I am quite sure he does, premature leaks of information that cause widespread anxiety: the statement had to be made in order to reassure patients. The hon. Member will appreciate the difficulty in respect of those who had been through a very, very trying time and to whom further agony was being caused. I hope that the hon. Gentleman, like myself, deplores these premature leaks of information.