5 MAY 1961, Page 14


SIR,—I think Frank Hart refers in 'The Hospital Committee' (April 14) to an incident in which I was concerned. This was an interview at a hospital to which I accompanied a lady making complaints about the maternity department. I was invited as a mem- ber of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services to help the lady in putting her case. Present were an Administrative Assistant of the Hospital Group (Chairman), the Secretary of the Hospital, a Consultant (meetly promoted from Registrar) and the Matron of the Hospital. It at once became obvious that the consultant intended to silence me as 'an observer only' while he bullied the complainant into taking back all she had said in her initial letter of complaint. The meeting was therefore not good from a public relations, or any other, point of view.

The patient had been admitted to an emergency bed at the request of her doctor and had been rightly or wrongly given to believe that a surgical induction of labour would be performed almost at once. Her psychological' state was bad. We inquired why she had not been examined by a doctor for two full days after her admission. The consultant replied: (a) It was a weekend.

(b) There was a houseman on duty in case of emer- gency.

(c) He (the consultant) had 'seen her papers.'

(d) He had only time to take care of her body. If she expected to have her mind taken care of she would have to go to private practice.

We thought these admissions lamentable. The last is the one to which I think Frank Hart refers. It per- haps does not amount to a formal statement from the Management Committee and it is fair to add that the Chairman of that body, later having seen the patient's full report (copy herewith), invited her to meet him. For family reasons she had to decline.

The report alleges further that, when the patient had been discharged, and readmitted in labour almost immediately, in the course of a protracted labour

she was not examined by a doctor for thirty-six hours. Surely at the very least we can expect a patient to be examined by a doctor within twenty- four hours?—Yours faithfully,

37A Queen's Road, Kingston, Surrey