11 JANUARY 1963, Page 11

While the Iron is Hot

The Barking power-station workers who said they would willingly work without pay to keep hospitals functioning properly provide an almost classic example of shutting the stable door when the horse has bolted miles away. And it is no use the go-slow leader, Mr. Charles Doyle, remonstrating that power could have been trans- ferred from other stations—the whole point about the Wanstead incident was that the go-slow took effect too suddenly for any emergency action. For all that, the icily angry—though distortedly sensational—letter that Mr. Musgrove wrote to The Times does bring to light the appalling risk all hospitals run of even ordinary power break- downs. Though 90 per cent. of our operating theatres have some means of emergency lighting, a sudden power failure could leave every other department literally powerless—incubators, lifts, X-ray machines would cease to function, and - indeed did at Wanstead Hospital last Thursday. Incredible as it seems, no thought has ever been given to emergency plans for any part of hos- pitals except operating theatres: I trust that we won't have to wait for a' national disaster before emergency plans are made.