§ 44. Sir Francis Fremantle
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give some account to the House of Commons of the arrangements and results of the hospital and medical services in Tunisia?
§ Mr. A. Henderson
I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Following is the statement:
§ Detailed figures have not yet been received from North Africa, but all reports show that the medical arrangements made were highly successful. The medical services which formed part of the North African Force included certain new units which had not previously been employed on active service. Such, for example, were the field surgical units, which were attached either to main dressing stations of field ambulances or to casualty clearing stations. These units are in effect highly mobile operating teams, designed and fully equipped to function as such in forward areas. Associated with them were the field transfusion units, which have revolutionised the treatment of shock in the field. They conveyed and distributed the large quantities of blood and plasma used throughout the campaign, and together with the field surgical units, played a large part in markedly reducing the mortality rate among casualties.
§ The evacuation of casualties on the whole followed lines which had been found successful in the past, but the evacuation was greatly accelerated by the transport facilities now available. These included ambulance cars, hospital trains improvised from rolling stock available locally, hospital ships and aircraft. American aircraft evacuated over 16,000 British and American troops. The divisional medical units on occasion handled as many as 400 to 600 casualties a day. The less urgent cases were sent direct to casualty clearing stations, the cases in need of blood transfusion and resuscitation were retained, and the cases requiring immediate operations were dealt with by the field surgical units. The hospitals in general used to accommodate casualties were general hospitals of 200, 600 and 1,200 beds. The speed with which they opened on new sites and accepted casualties was one of the outstanding features of the campaign from the medical point of view. These hospitals were mainly accommodated in tents, although the administrative parts were often in buildings. Hospitals were provided with the necessary specialist personnel and equipment to deal with cases of all types, including surgical, medical, laryngological, ophthalmological, dermatological, psychiatrical, neuro-surgical and maxillo facial cases. Special depots were provided to care for convalescents and for 996 those who were lightly wounded, and to ensure that they were soon fit to return to duty. The general health of the troops and their standard of hygiene remained good throughout the campaign. This was due at least in part to the improved education of all ranks and to the better understanding by all of the problems involved.