§ Mr. Gorst
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether all necessary steps have been taken to protect patients and public in West Hendon against smallpox following the admission and subsequent death of two suspected sufferers; why they were admitted to West Hendon Hospital in view of their previous contacts; how many other such cases have 181W been notified and where they are being observed; and if it is intended that future suspected sufferers will be dealt with at West Hendon or Long Reach Hospital, Dartford.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Without prejudice to any conclusion reached by the forthcoming public inquiry, my information is that after it was recognised that the two persons concerned were suffering from smallpox, all necessary steps have been taken to protect patients and public in West Hendon. The question of why Mr. and Mrs. Hurley were admitted to West Hendon Hospital is a matter for the inquiry.
No further case has been notified. Five people are under observation at Long Reach Hospital.
Where the possibility of smallpox cannot be definitely excluded action will depend upon the circumstances of the case and it is the responsibility of the medical officer of health to reach a decision. Guidance given by the Department is that even very doubtful cases should be admitted to a smallpox hospital, or a unit offering a comparable degree of isolation, if home isolation is not practicable.