§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, in view of the statement of the year's work of the Metropolitan Asylums Board to the effect that the total admissions of fever and small-pox patients who had been treated in the hospitals of the Board in the course of the past 12 months amounted to 16,624, being double the number of any previous year, he will consent to the appointment next Session of a Select Committee of this House to inquire into the causes which have led to this great increase, and to take the evidence of experts as to what steps can be taken to prevent the recurrence of such outbreaks of infectious diseases in the future?
SIR W. FOSTER
The facts as regards the admission of fever and smallpox patients to the hospitals of the Metropolitan Asylums Board during the year ended the 31st December last are as stated in the question. By far the greatest part of the increase was in the case of scarlet fever patients, the number of scarlet fever patients admitted being 13,093. The compulsory notification of infectious diseases, the removal of the restrictions as to the admission of non-pauper patients, the repeal of the provisions which allowed of the recovery from relatives of the cost of maintenance, the improvement in the management of the hospitals, and the change of feeling as to the importance of isolating infectious cases, have all tended to increase the demand for admissions to these asylums. Notwithstanding the great increase in admissions, it is to be observed that the mortality from scarlet fever in 1892 was 276 per 1,000,000 living, whilst the annual mortality from that disease in the decade 1861–70 was 1,133 per 1,000,000; in that of 1871–80 it was 600 per 1,000,000, and in that of 1881–90 335 per 1,000,000. The suggestion of the hon. Member will receive the consideration which its importance deserves; but at present the Local Government Board do not consider that any sufficient advantage 489 would result from the appointment of a Select Committee of the House as suggested.