Category Archives: War

These amendments relate to the Britain’s Global Role consultation document.

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Delete last paragraph

Line 39 insert “Challenges to high levels of health status can increasingly arise from factors external to the UK. These include the ongoing need to control or contain contagious diseases now more easily transported around the world, and the need to reduce the number of “failed states” that give rise to increasing numbers of refugees forced to seek safety in other countries – including the UK. Labour should see part of its foreign and aid policy in the light of the contribution it can make to protecting the health status of the UK.”

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Line 31 insert:” Labour should ensure that:

  • the likely health impact upon service personnel and their families of any conflict is taken into account when  considering the use of  military force and the nature of that use
  • the post conflict care of servicemen and their families is planned for and fully resourced from the defence budget
  • the NHS is fully prepared- at all levels – to recognise the signs of ill health arising from military service and to provide an adequate response.
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” Fascism does not believe in the possibility or utility of perpetual peace. War alone sets the seal of nobility.” Mussolini.

” Mankind will only perish through eternal peace . . . Might alone makes right …” Hitler.

” The United States must take the offensive against Russia. It would win for us a popular title ; we would become the first aggressors for peace . . .” Francis Matthews, U.S. Navy Secretary. August 1950,

PUBLISHED BY THE LEEDS & DISTRICT BRANCH OF  THE   SOCIALIST  MEDICAL  ASSOCIATION.

May  1952. 4d.

NOTE.—In February 1952 a special delegate Conference was called in Leeds by the Leeds and District Branch of the S.M.A. This pamphlet contains some of .the material presented to this Conference and is published in response to numerous requests from delegates. For further copies please apply to the Hon. Secretary, Mr. M. N. Tempest, F.R.C.S., Pendragon, Lister Lane, Bradford, Yorkshire.

MODERN WAR—ITS MEDICAL, SOCIAL  AND  ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS

In former centuries it was possible to regard war as heroic and manly, since comparatively few individuals were involved, and the main stream of life was left untroubled. The last two world wars, and wars already in progress in Malaya, Indo-China and Korea, involve whole communities, without discrimination between soldier and civilian. Before dealing with other aspects of modern war it is well to recall briefly some casualty lists of the last world war.

  • U.S.A.     –     1.04 million killed, wounded and missing, including civilians.
  • U.K.        –    0.57 million killed, wounded and missing.
  • Germany-    9.5 million killed, wounded and missing.
  • U.S.S.R. –    13.5 million: over 7 million Soviet soldiers killed.
  • France    –    160,000 military  and 160,000 civilian deaths; 300,000 deaths of prisoners and compulsory workers  in Germany.
  • Poland    –    600,000  killed by direct  war action ; 3,900,000 lives lost by execution and liquidation of the ghetto ;   1,400,000 lives lost in  concentration camps and enforced work.
  • Jugoslavia 1,660,000, including 1,380,000 civilians (i.e., 10.5 per cent of the pre-war population).

The high proportion of civilian casualties is significant. Recent developments have made bombardments of the last war seem child’s play. For instance, the UNITED NATIONS Communique of October 13th, 1950: “Firing at the rate of 15,000 pounds a minute, the U.S. battleship “Missouri” yesterday poured out in less than an hour more than 800,000 pounds of death and destruction on enemy military targets in the city of Chongjin, 35 miles south of the Manchurian border.  . .”

NAPALM BOMBS. This weapon spreads solidified petrol over a huge area, and in a second can transform a town or wood into a mass of flame. Its extensive use in Korea is confirmed in the following official communiques :

“On the Naktong front our airmen have dropped two hundred thousand gallons of napalm on the enemy. . . .” U.N. Communique, September 15th, 1950.

” Planes from U.S. carriers yesterday napalmed out of existence a whole Korean town a few miles west of Panmunjon. . . .” U.S. Navy H.Q., February 22nd, 1952.

FLAME THROWERS. The American National Research Council in Washington (November 1950) devoted a whole session to flame throwers and the mode of death in animals exposed to such weapons. “Deaths for the most part occurred within minutes . . . due primarily to heat, but decrease in oxygen tension and increase in carbon monoxide also important . . . Temperatures may go up to 1,000 degrees Centigrade. . . .”

POISON GAS WARFARE. During the last war new gases were discovered that could act as paralysants of the central and peripheral nervous systems.

BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

A great deal of research was carried out in many countries during the last war. Pilot experiments were carried out on prisoners of war by the Japanese in Manchuria.

Why this interest in biological warfare? The answer may be found in the following statement: “The atom bomb is a poor weapon because it destroys too much property. Although it sounds cold-blooded, the type of weapon we should have is one that will kill people only. Such a weapon would make it unnecessary in a future war to rehabilitate land and property on such a vast scale. . . .” P. B. Harwood (Milyaukee Conference, August 1947).

Most of the available published material is found in the publications of Dr. Theodore Rosebury and his colleagues in the United States. Dr. Rosebury himself is under no illusion about the perversion of medical science involved in this work: “If you want to study biological warfare you must figura­tively stand on your head. It is an upside-down science. Normally we study disease in order to prevent or cure it … but biological warfare sets out to produce disease. It is not natural or normal, but abnormal, and artificial. . . .”

The most “promising” method seems the use of smokes containing toxins and organisms of anthrax, botulism and diphtheria, especially if these organisms are cultured so as to make them resistant to any known therapeutic agent or antibiotic drug. Typhoid, typhus, plague and cholera can be used against primitive communities, though prophylactic immunisation would combat most of these diseases effectively.

The use of such viruses as poliomyelitis, virulent influenza and psittacosis is limited by ignorance of methods to spread these diseases.

Another line of attack is among the diseases of cultivated plants, e.g., the use of Colorado beetles amongst potato crops. Chemical poisons can also be used to damage crops. This weapon has been used by the British Government in Malaya. “Small bombs containing chemical poisons proved themselves particularly effective in destroying crops used to feed rebels in parts of the Malayan jungle. . . .” R.A.F. Spokesman at Kuala Lumpur, April 8th, 1952.

Research in biological warfare continues in America at Camp Detrick in Maryland, and in this country at the Micro­biological warfare Research Station at Porton, near Salisbury, a building described by Chapman Pincher as “the biggest science building in Britain.” (‘Discovery’, December 1950). Military leaders are quite serious about the possibilities of biological warfare. General Alden H. Waitt, when Chief of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, declared:

“I believe it to be a practical form of warfare which has great potentialities … It is neither consistent nor intelligent to talk about the horrors of gas and biological warfare and then condone atomic warfare. I am entirely out of sympathy with talk about the inhumanity of the weapon.” (June 1946).

“Clostridium botulinum is the most poisonous thing known to man. and under ideal conditions, one ounce could probably kill 150 million people. . . .” (March 1949).

General A. C. Macauliff, Chief of US. Army Chemical Corps, said in Detroit (April 18th, 1950): “The Corps is spending more than 4,280,000 dollars annually on research in biological, radiological and chemical warfare. . . .”

Apart from dissemination of disease by bombs, biological warfare can take the form of deliberate withholding medical supplies, either by blockade, or by refusal to give information on new processes, as was the case with the supply of Podbielniak extractors for production of penicillin. Admiral Forrest P. Sherman (U.S. Chief of Naval Staff) before the Senate Armed Services Committee, insisted on economic blockade of China; “Since the Chinese are very susceptible to plagues and contagious diseases, the stoppage of medicines would curtail the mobility of the Chinese Armies. . . .” (” New York Times,” May 31st, 1951). But plagues do not distinguish between soldiers and civilians! They also attack helpless women and children.

Similarly, withholding supplies of insecticides for stock­piling purposes can have disastrous effects. Thus, Prof. M. J. Ferreira (Brazilian delegate World Health Organisation) pointed out: “We are holding down the fire of malaria with D.D.T. If it is withdrawn, the fire will blaze more fiercely than before.”    Millions can die without a single shot being fired.

ATOMIC WARFARE

The atom bomb is primarily a weapon of mass destruction. The theory of mass-murder is outlined in an article in the “Washington Times Herald” (quoted by Prof. Burhop in ‘The Challenge of Atomic Energy’): “The object of war to-day is to kill the enemy nation, remove its seat of power and wipe it off the face of the earth as a threat for ever. We do not put armies of young men out to gut one another. We send planes over at forty thousand feet loaded with atom bombs, fire bombs, germ bombs and trinitrotoluol to slaughter babes in the cradle, grandmothers at their prayers and working men at their jobs. , . -”

At Hiroshima, 60,000 people were killed outright, and 70,000 casualties survived. At Nagasaki, 39,000 people were killed, and 25,000 casualties survived. Of these casualties it was found that

(1)  70 per cent were caused by blast and the effects of the shock-wave.

(2) 65  to 90  per  cent  were  burned.  Everything combustible within 2—3 miles caught fire.    This instantaneous fire effect over wide areas is one of the most frightening features of the bomb.

(3) 30 per cent  suffered   from   radiation. Those within half a mile of the explosion received a fatal dose of radiation.

Short term effects involve mainly the various blood-form­ing tissues in the bone marrow, and the lining of the intestines. Destruction of blood platelets interferes with the normal process of blood clotting and may lead to severe bleeding. Damage to the white blood cells may seriously diminish resistance to infection. Interference with formation of new red blood cells leads to a severe type of anaemia. After a period of some six weeks, those patients who have not received a fatal dose of radiation may recover if they have not died in the meantime from blood loss, infection, burns or other injuries.

Long-term radiation effects may take many years to show themselves. In Japan, certain effects on reproduction have been observed. According to the British Mission to Japan : ” Two months after the explosion, miscarriages, abortions and premature births throughout Hiroshima were nearly five times as frequent as in normal times and formed more than a quarter of all deliveries. . . .” From experiments with mice, radiation is known to produce mutations in the germ cells of the parents. A marked increase in the proportion of monsters and abnormal children can be expected in generations yet unborn. Skin cancer may develop after many years as a result of exposure to gamma radiation, and ingested radio-active materials are very potent in producing cancer of the internal organs.

ATOMIC A.R.P.?

It is estimated that one bomb of the Hiroshima pattern (already obsolete) would cause 50,000 casualties if dropped without warning on the average British city. (Throughout the last war, air-raids on Great Britain killed 60,595 and wounded 86,182 civilians). To deal with the effects of one atomic bomb would need a rescue force of some 200,000 trained people, or two-thirds the population of a city the size of Bradford, and would involve elementary training for the whole population and a high level of technical training for some thousands in each town. It will only be possible to rescue a small proportion of the casualties. Indeed, some authorities (cf. “Lancet,” February llth, 1950) hold that it will only be possible to rescue those outside a two-mile radius from the bomb centre.

“The atomic bomb destroys so quickly and completely such a large area that defence is hopeless. Leadership and organisation are gone. Key personnel are killed. With the fire station wrecked and the firemen burned, how control 1,000 fires? With the doctors dead and the hospitals smashed, how treat a quarter of a million injured?”

‘The Atom Bomb,’ published by the Atomic Scientists’ Association of Chicago.

TREATMENT OF CASUALTIES:

Atomic warfare adds two enormous problems—radiation sickness and the treatment of severely burned patients. Large quantities of blood and plasma will be needed. It is estimated that cases of radiation sickness will need 1 pint of fresh blood every second day for six weeks. A single severe burn may need up to 20—30 pints of blood or plasma within the first 3—4 days. Initial grafting of a severe burn to effect early primary healing takes a fully-trained team under ideal conditions nearly an hour. Reconstruction of the damaged region may then require another 20—30 operations spread over a period of years. In Britain we have only two centres capable of dealing with large numbers of severely burned patients—one in Birmingham, one in Glasgow. There is no proper burns centre in Yorkshire. At Hiroshima, one atomic bomb caused 34,000 severe burns.

It is estimated that where the hydrogen bomb is exploded without warning everyone within a radius of 25 miles would be fatally burned. This means that with Leeds as the centre, all the inhabitants of Barnsley, Doncaster, Goole, York, Knaresborough, Skipton, Hebden Bridge would receive fatal burns. . . .

THE DOCTOR’S SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Doctors have the duties of all citizens, but also a special interest by virtue of our profession. We are bound by our ethic to preserve life and to eliminate suffering. Our duty is to mankind as a whole, irrespective of social status, religion, nationality or race.

We are in intimate contact with the public, and even if we have no special knowledge of politics and economics, we have some insight into the mental processes which lead people to hate and fight each other. Above all, we accept the principle that prevention is better than cure. No matter how-expert the surgeon, he is less effective than the peacemaker. Military preparations directly undermine everything for which the profession has worked—healthier conditions, better houses, better food, and more medical research.

This being so, we consider it our duty:

(1)       To make more widely known the results and horrors of modern war.

(2)       To study the psychological mechanisms by which people are conditioned to accept war as a necessity and something quite natural.

Thus we should expose the psychological “conditioning” which begins as soon as a child can read his weekly ‘ Comic,’ and continues well into adult life, so that he reads without alarm the following typical samples of ‘ news ‘:—

“If anybody commits aggression, we will have a real, good party and kill a lot of people. . , .” (F. M. Mont­gomery, “Daily Herald,” 23rd November, 1949). “An operation which ends with a dead Communist is called a ‘ kill’ in much the same way as one talks about ‘ runs’ on the cricket pitch. Dead terrorists are what count, and the Green Howards have been knocking up quite a score in recent days. . . .” (Military Observer, “Yorkshire Post,” 19th December, 1951).

(3)       To oppose the use of medical science for any purposes other than the prevention and relief of suffering.  Biological warfare is the clearest example of perversion of medical science. It is not without significance that certain Government Biological Warfare Centres are directed by bacteriologists who have not got medical qualifications. The results of this work are kept secret, i.e., not published in medical or scientific journals.  As Dr. Alex Comfort puts it:
” Scientists  now find themselves asked to put unlimited powers of genocide, coercion and destruction  into  the hands of limited groups   of individuals, many of whom show themselves by all their public gestures quite unfit to control a sporting gun, . . .”

(4)       To urge that the energies and money spent in preparation for war against man be directed into the fight against disease and malnutrition.

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE ON SOCIAL SERVICES, DEFENCE, ETC.

 

1950/1 1951/2

£m.

Per £                                                              £m.

Per£

1,589

9/3

Social Services   …..

1,615

7/7

of which :
Education   ..           £250m.
Food Subsidies        £400m.
Nat. Insurance        £400m.
Health                      £400m.
Housing, Local
Govt., etc …..           £150m.

800

4/7

Defence

1,490

7/-

545

3/2

National Debt, etc ………

584

3/-

Other Services :
Foreign   and   Colonial,   and

540

3/-

Agriculture

510

2/5

3,474

20/-

TOTALS             j   4,199

20/-

From ” Labour Research,” May 1951.

£4,700,000,000 TO BE SPENT IN  THE  NEXT  THREE YEARS ON WAR PREPARATIONS.

This Money would provide In Britain:

  • 6,000 Blocks of Flats to let at low rents £1,500,000,000
  • 20 Great Universities at £10 million each in our largest cities £200,000,000
  • 20 Endowments £200,000,000
  • 10 Agricultural £60,000,000
  • 200 Hospitals   £100,000,000
  • 200 New Schools  £50,000,000
  • 400 New Schools  £50,000,000

In the Colonies:

  • 5 T.V.A. Development Projects £1,000,000,000
  • 200 Medical Centres £100,000,000
  • 200 Medical Centres £200,000,000
  • 8,000 New Schools  £1,000,000,000
  • 3 Universities £30,000.000
  • 3 Endowments £30,000.000
  • 10 Agricultural £50,000.000
  • 260 Libraries  £130,000,000

Total ££4,700,000,000

From “Society of Friends ” Peace Leaflet

Excel Printing Co.. 31a. James Street, Bradford.    Tel. 23696.

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Undated – possibly 1943

by a Joint Committee of The Haldane Society And The Socialist Medical Association.

The provisions of the Royal Warrant on Pensions, and other relevant official pronouncements, seem to have been drawn up with a number of points in mind, which need consideration.

In the first place, throughout the Articles there appears a tendency to place the interests of economy before those of justice. With the actual sums proposed as pensions this Committee is not here concerned, but we are agreed that the cond­itions under which pensions can be granted are harsh, and, if strictly interpreted, will discriminate against many claimants whose claims are medically fully justified. We entirely approve of the principle of strict economy in expenditure on the war, but as it is possible to guarantee the railways an income of at least £40,000,000 per annum, it is also possible to ensure that no man or woman injured or ill as a result of service in the Armed Forces is denied an adequate pension.

Wartime Neurosis

Secondly, those responsible for the framing of the Warrant and for the memorandum “Neuroses in War-time” (drawn up by a Conference convened by the Minister of Pensions), appear to be so much obsessed by the fear that malingerers will receive pen­sions that they have made the regulations so strict that many genuine cases will not be able to claim.  In particular, the Conference which produced “Neuroses in War-time” seems still to hold the out-dated view that neuroses and malingering are almost indistinguishable, when they say (page 2), “Such was the appeal of the word ‘shell-shock’ that this class of case excited more general interest, attention and sympathy than almost any other, so much so that it is to be feared that it became a most desir­able complaint from which to suffer”.  The Minister of Pensions has accepted the view of the Conference to the extent that he has stated that during war no person should ordinarily be given a pension on account of neurosis.  One is entitled’ to press for some clarification of the form of treatment or disposal the Government intend to apply to these patients during the war, if their pensions are only to start at the end of it.  Disease may be defined as the partial breakdown of an organism in its efforts to adapt itself to the stresses and strains of its environment. This definition covers both physical and psychological disease, and the Committee wishes to emphasise that experience showed that many of the most severe psychological cases in the last war occurred in men who had shown considerable gallantry and who had for a long time managed to adjust themselves to extremely difficult and dangerous conditions.

This Committee is of the opinion that it is more equitable for a few undetected malingerers to receive pensions, than for many genuine cases of physical and mental disability to be debarred from pensions, in a misguided effort on the part of the Minister of Pensions to eliminate malingerers.

The Warrant states that dependents are only eligible for pensions by the generosity of the Minister of Pensions.  “Pen­sions in respect of deceased soldiers provided under this Our Warrant shall not be claimed as a right, but may be given as a reward of their service”, (Article 51). This Committee, on the contrary, considers that the dependents of men and women in the Armed Forces are fully entitled to compensation from the Govern­ment, especially since the introduction of conscription.  It also considers that any injury or disease, caused or aggravated during war service, should be pensionable. Due regard should be paid to the difference in conditions of civil and military life, and the added stresses and strains, physical and mental, imposed by the latter.

Article 2, section 4.

No mention is made of any special qualifications to be poss­essed by a medical officer or member of a medical board.  It is clear that specialist medical officers or boards should be appoin­ted to consider cases which come within the range of their spe­cialised knowledge.  For instance, a board consisting of medical officers none of whom has specialised knowledge of ear condi­tions, is not in a position to make an adequate decision in cases of deafness.  Similar considerations apply with, especial force to psychological cases.

Article 4; section (d).

The decision that the period during which claims can be made shall be arbitrarily limited to seven years, will give rise to hardship. For example, the Americal authors, Hume and Nattrasss found that, in men who had suffered from “trench fever” during the Great War, 45% showed no clinical evidence of kidney damage nine years after Armistice, but pathological evidence showed that they were almost certainly developing chronic disease of the kidneys.  Similarly, with psychological cases, a great number of claims were made several years after the end of the war.  In such cases, the psychological trouble had not made itself appar­ent until after demobilisation, and in many instances not for several years.  In the opinion of psychiatrists, such cases of neurosis are directly attributable to war service.  In the absence of contemporary record, and there would be none in such cases, it is unlikely that any claim would be allowed, (see Article 5, section 2, below).

Article 5, section 1, (a) and (b).

The wording is not at all clear.  It is presumably intended to differentiate between cases directly attributable to military service and other cases of wounds, injury or disease which arose and were aggravated by war service.  As the Article stands, a wound, injury or disease, which arose during war service, must also be aggravated by war service to a material extent. For example, a soldier driving an army lorry in England, who as the result of an accident suffers the amputation of a foot, would have to prove that his condition, which arose during war service, was also aggravated by war service, before he could claim.

As already stated, this Committee is of the opinion that all cases of injury or disease, arising from or aggravated by the war, should be pensionable. With this principle in mind, section I of Article 5 should be amended to read as follows:-

(a)  directly attributable to military service during the war, or

(b)  due to a wound, injury or disease which-

(i) arose during war service, or

 (ii) existed before such service and was aggravated by war service to a material extent and remains so aggravated.

Article 5, section 2,

This Article provides that collateral evidence of a wound, injury or disease may not be considered unless contemporary official records are not available. Even in the best of our hospitals in peace-time it is unfortunately true that records are not always by any means complete.  This is even more likely to obtain in war-time circumstances, when also a condition which may later give rise to serious disability is not mentioned, or is minimised in view of another more important.  The use of collateral evidence, as well as the official contemporary official records, should be permitted in all cases.

Furthermore, this section states that “no doubt” must be left in the minds of the certifying medical authorities as to the genuineness of the claims being due to war service. Much hardship will be caused by this provision, as few doctors are willing to commit themselves to this extent.  The words “no reasonable doubt” would be more equitable.

The Committee wishes to make’ the following additional rec­ommendations:

I. As the whole matter of the justice or otherwise with which claims to pensions are granted largely turns on administration, the Labour Party should keep close watch on the administrative aspect, and should ventilate all grievances at once.

II. The Minister of Pensions should be asked, either in the House or in the Advisory Committee, for assurances on the following points:-

(a)     that specialist medical boards shall be set up, including boards qualified to deal with psychological cases.

(b)     that the medical boards shall from time to time be reviewed.

(c)     that a right of appeal to a specialist board shall be allowed as a matter of course if the claimant is dissatisfied.

III. Medical examination on enrolment in the Armed Forces should be thorough and complete, and should be regarded as definite evidence of the degree of the physical and mental fitness at that time. The result of this medical examination should be accepted as a valid record in any later assessment
of the date of onset of disability, and its aggravation if it arose before the beginning of war service.

IV. The regulation that pensions for psychological cases will not be given during the war should be reconsidered. While the patient is still in hospital, the question does not arise, but the Committee is of the opinion that if he is discharged from the service, he should receive a pension, beginning from the date of discharge. However, there is good reason to believe that retention in the service with  seconding to duties of a non-military character at the base
represents an effective way of handling the problem of those who are fit for discharge from hospital.

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Held at the National Trade Union Club London February 14th 1943

At this meeting convened by the S.M.A., it was explained by the Chairman that the Socialist Medical Association was an organisation embracing all socialist workers in the Medical Services and was not therefore a rival organisation of any of the existing professional societies, and that it did not seek to represent any specific section of workers. The aim of the S.M.A. is to be the forum and point of contact of all socialists in the Medical Services; to popularise socialist ideas and policies, particularly as related to the problems of the Medical Services.

With these objects the Association has been the means of forming special groups of its members among doctors, pharmacists, nurses etc.,

The Chairman proceeded to enumerate some of the problems facing Radiographers today, and during the full discussion which followed, agreement was expressed on the following points:-

  1. That the X-ray services of the Country, both Industrial and Medical, were and would continue to undergo a considerable expansion,
  2. That this accentuated the existing problems of the training and supply of Radiographers, and the present and future status of Radiographers.
  3. That consequently, it was probably desirable to press for an extension in the number of training schools, particularly in local authority hospitals, adequately equipped for the purpose.
  4. That the syllabus and training should be improved, particularly with regard to increased attention to Pathology and X-Ray Therapy. That owing to the wide difference between Diagnostic and Therapeutic work, a definite separation in the study of these subjects should take place at a late stage in the training. For instance, if more importance and increased advantages were, attached to the F.S.R. examination with regard to the status of the holder and the types of job available, a definite ‘Specialisation, and separation of Therapy from Diagnosis should take place in this examination.  In this connection, the Report of the Education Committee set up by the Council of the Society of Radiographers is awaited with interest.
  5.  It was felt that any improvement in the status of Radiography was closely bound up with this question of improved training. At the same time it was felt that it would be an advantage if the Society of Radiographers sought recognition as a trade union, and that efforts should be made to break down what remains of the existing prejudice against trade unionism. It was mentioned in this respect that a number of Radiographers have already taken advantage of the existence of the Association of Scientific Workers which is a trade union for which Radiographers are eligible for membership.
  6.  It was agreed that Radiographers in general should be made more aware of these problems and that they should take a more active part in the Society of Radiographers which alone was able to tackle and solve them. To this end it was felt that such matters of policy ought to find a place for discussion in the Journal of Radiography, either in the form of letters or articles, and that local branches of the Society should be made more accessible to provincial members. It was thought that these measures might eliminate the state of affairs described by the President of the Society when he referred to the lack of interest shown by members in the affairs of the Society.
  7. It was agreed that in common with all other employees in the Health Services, Radiographers must play their part in the rationalisation of labour and materials so necessary in hospitals during wartime and particularly in view of the approaching Allied offensive. It was mentioned in this respect that in a number of hospitals joint consultative committees had been established to secure maximum co-operation between all departments of hospital work and had resulted in considerable savings of time and labour.

It was agreed to make contact with as many other Radiographers in the S.M.A. as possible and convene a further meeting in a few months.

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Memorandum prepared by Socialist Social Workers Association and adopted by S. M. A. 1939 or 1940

Planning for the care of young children is a project which is at any time of great importance to the nation, but in the present circumstances it assumes a special urgency, as we must be concerned not only with the care and safety of the children, but also with the liberation of as many as possible of the young mothers for work of national importance. For while we agree with the Minister of Labour that women with young children should be the last to be called up, we are sure that, if their children can be properly provided for, many young mothers will volunteer for work, and these women will be particularly useful in industry, having only recently left it, and being conversant with modern industrial technique.

The Government takes the responsibility for planning industrial production and for recruitment of women workers, but it cannot do this effectively unless the provision for the care of the children is adequate and efficient. We are of the opinion that the present arrangements for the “Under Fives” is in many important respects unsatisfactory, and as professional workers in the field of social welfare and public health we would like to put forward our criticisms and proposals for the improvement of these provisions.

Criticisms of present arrangements.

The principal defects of the present system are:-

(1)    That the Government does not assume responsibility for the establishment of nurseries, but leaves the initiative to Local Authorities and voluntary organisations, and

(2)    That the present evacuation scheme is not designed to assist in the mobilisation of women, providing adequate facilities only for children accompanied by their mothers, and allowing the evacuation of unaccompanied children in “special cases” only.

Evacuation.

The arrangements for evacuation of unaccompanied children (under five) are in the hands of the W.V.S.  The accommodation is limited to that which voluntary effort and private charity can provide.  The demand greatly exceeds the number who are accepted, as the case records of many social workers show. The official figures, showing that about one-third of the applications are refused is really an under-estimate of the position, as they take no account of the many cases where a mother applies to a local social agency only to be advised that it is a waste of time to send her name forward to the selection panel.

As stated in the W.V.S. circular on evacuation, the scheme caters only for children who “for very strong reasons” cannot be taken out of the danger areas by their mothers or other responsible adults. The selection panel decides whether the applicant’s reason is strong enough.   It is clear that a scheme of this kind is not designed to assist women who wish to evacuate their children in order to go to work. And apart from consideration of the needs of industry, we feel strongly that the decision whether she can and should go away with her baby is a private matter, and should be made by the mother herself without interference from officials or social workers.

It has been urged that it is better for mothers to accompany their children, and this is perhaps one reason why more opportunities for unaccompanied evacuation have not been provided. We agree that in normal tines mothers should not be separated from their children if this can be avoided, but in the present emergency, when every available woman is needed in industry, we feel that young mothers should not be urged to go away, but should be given every opportunity to evacuate their children if they wish to,

A further criticism of the present scheme is that the responsibility for its planning and administration has not been given to the persons best qualified for this work, i.e. trained social workers and nursery workers.

Many social workers feel strongly that in the interests of the children as many of them as possible should be evacuated from the danger areas, and are concerned at reports that there are nearly half a million children under five in evacuation areas.  We consider that day nurseries are a very much less satisfactory solution of the problem of the under fives, and therefore attach great importance to the extension and improvement of the evacuation schemes, both as a safety measure, and as an aid to mobilisation of women.

It has been suggested that the solution lies in evacuation of mothers with their children to reception areas where they can find work.  Our experience indicates that this is not practicable as a complete solution, though a certain number of women may find useful work in reception areas.  In practice the place to which women and children are evacuated is determined by (1) safety, and (2) available accommodation, and not by facilities for work.  It is found that in areas where there is a great demand for workers, there is hardly enough accommodation for women without their children. This is borne out by suggestions that some areas may be “closed” to all but workers.  Also such areas can never be considered even comparatively safe.

Nurseries in Industrial Areas.

Even with an extension of the evacuation scheme, many women will decide against evacuation, and will wish to have their children near them.  If these women are to be mobilised for regular work  provision for their children must be made in the form of day or residential nurseries near to their home or place of work.  Even part-time workers will need this provision.

The establishment of nurseries lags behind the demands of industry. The initiative lies with the local authority which is permitted, but not compelled, to provide nurseries.  It is often difficult to convince local authorities of the need for nurseries without presenting long lists of names of women who are waiting for them.  In practice it is difficult to obtain them, because women hesitate to demand a service of which they have never had practical experience.  In areas where nurseries have actually been established, they are quickly filled.

Local Authorities who decide to open nurseries find that the work is considerably delayed by the cumbersome method of obtaining Ministry Sanction by submitting detailed estimates, each item of which has to be separately approved before work can be started.

It has been suggested by Government spokesmen that mothers who wish to work should make private arrangements for the minding of their children.  Arrangements of this kind are not only unsatisfactory, but uneconomic in woman-power, for the number of children a woman can mind in her home is very much less than that which a worker in an organised nursery can account for.  Besides this, these arrangements are very liable to breakdown, causing loss of working time.

PROPOSALS.

  1.  The first essential is a national plan, for which the Government should be responsible, for the provision of nurseries in both reception and evacuation areas.  This should aim at ensuring that every mother capable of working should have the free choice of (1) evacuating her young children unaccompanied, (2) of having them cared for in a nursery near her home, or b) of going away with her children. This would free many women for work near their homes, while still allowing them to go away to reception areas with the children if they wish.
  2.  In making this plan the neutral areas should be carefully revised.
  3.  The Local Authorities should be compelled to carry out the plan as it applies to their areas.
  4.  Block grants should be given to local authorities to expedite their work.
  5.  The scheme should be worked out and administered by trained social workers.  The machinery for this work already exists in embryo in the Maternity and Child Welfare Department of the Ministry of Health, with its corresponding departments of the Local Authorities. The workers in the department, with the assistance of the local health visitors, and of the Regional Welfare Officers and County Welfare Adviser, and the factory welfare workers, are in an excellent position to collect the necessary statistics for the plan, and to operate it locally.
  6. Residential nurseries are essential in all areas where shifts are generally worked, to ensure that the mother gets sufficient rest at home, and also to avoid transporting the children at all hours and in all weathers. They are desirable also wherever long hours are the general rule.
  7. Hours of day nurseries should be adjusted to meet local working conditions.
  8. Special arrangements should be made for the supply of food to day nurseries as well as residential, so that children may have their principal meals there.
  9. Staffing, though difficult, is not an insuperable problem.
  10. It is necessary to have all nurseries supervised by trained workers, but a great deal of the work can be done satisfactorily by trainees. This work is just as essential as any other war work, as it frees so many more workers than it occupies, and we consider that recruiting for this work should be included in the general scheme for recruitment of women for war work. A well-organised propaganda and publicity drive should produce a large number of suitable workers and trainees, who otherwise would go into other fields and be less useful.

Conclusion.

We realise that the planning, administering and staffing of a system, of nurseries on the scale that we suggest is a large undertaking and will entail considerable expense and occupy a great number of workers.  But in view of the contribution it will make to the war effort by releasing much greater numbers of women for industry and ensuring that their work will be regular, the under­taking will in the long run prove an economy, besides contributing to the welfare and safety of the children.  Social workers all over the country will make every effort to ensure that the scheme is efficiently operated.

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