THE FEDERATION OF MEDICAL AND ALLIED SOCIETIES: Annual Dinner
BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)
The company numbered just over a hundred, and included representatives of thirty-eiglht separate societies of the medical and allied professions. -Sir BERKELEY MOYNIHAN, in proposing the health of Dr. Addison, said that the late Minister of Health had been subjected to a considerable amount of criticism, but that was an atmosphere in which politicians thrived. Some of the criticism had been timely, wise, and helpful; some of it had been silly, displaying poverty of imagination and even of
... n and even of invective; and some of it had been malignant, though in the part of the country from which he came he had never discovered any metastatic deposits from that malignant focus. He knew Dr. Addison many years ago when the future statesman was an anatomist. He bitterly regretted that Dr. Addison had deviated-he would not express it in terms of pathological degeneration -towards politics. Had he remained an anatomist he would now have been the first anatomist in the Empire. He wrote a work on the topographical anatomy of the abdominal viscera, especially the gastro-intestinal canal. "I have perhaps as friendly and intimate acquaintance as anybody," said the speaker amid laughter, "with most of the abdominal viscera, and I can assure Dr. Addison that the viscera appreciate very much the work he has done on their behalf. Those who have to teach the topographical anatomy of the abdominal viscera to students to-day have to refer to the work of Addison. So far at least as -anatomy is concerned, Dr. Addison's name is immortal." Dr. Addison's appointment as first Minister of Health (he continued) was received with acclamation by the whole profession. It needed courage to accept the offlce. It was not incongruous to suggest at that table that there were some present who might well have been thought of in connexion with the post, but he would like to ask them and to ask himself-for the Gentleman with the Duster " had put hiim in the ideal Cabinet as Minister of Healthif any one of them could have done so much and so well in so short a time. There could be no discordant voice in the profession as to Dr. Addison's airns, even though there might be difference as to his procedures. He had had not only to overcome ignorance, but to fight against the stultifyin$ imperviousness to new ideas. And he had done things which no man would ever be able to change. It had to be remembered, of course, that his plans were conceived in a time of national prodigality, and had to be put into practice in a time of national poverty. But he (Sir Berkeley) would plead with those whose voice had any weight with the people in authority that the last direction in which economies were insisted on should be the broad blighway which led to national health. The whole profession owed a great debt to Dr. Addison, who would be astonished if he knew what backing he had from genet-al practitioners. The Federation also owed him a debt because, at the very beginning of its history, he, standing high in the counciJs of the nation, had pleaded for a united profession. Theirs was a profession of divided counsel.h and jarring factions; its interests were not necessarily conflicting, but pains seemed to be taken very often to make them so. The speaker concluded with a happy allusion to the rod of Aesculapius, likening Dr. Addison to the god Mercury, who threw his stafT among the quarrelling serpents, so that they twined themselves around it henceforth in friendly co-operation. Dr. ADDISON, in reply, expressed his thanks for the cordiality with which he had been received, and praised the aim of the Federation to bring together the medical and allied professions, and to foster among them a lively Interest in public questions. To those who had eyes to see it was clear that, whatever might be the ebb and flow of events, society would seek more and more to enlist the aid of those who could best help it to promote the physical well-being of its members and to prevent avoidab-le disabilities. The mass of avoidable disability was strikingly revealed during the war,and it was because of this that the dominant purposu of thXinistry of Health, at least X the early stages of its hist&ry, must be to develop and encourage all preventive agencies. In order to do this a long view was necessaty. Opportunist spectacular performances were not the function of such a Ministry. He might give many illustrations on this point. The Ministry, for instance, had inaugurated a system whereby assistance was rendered to port sanitary authorities in order to prevent the invasion of post-war pestilence. The total cost of this scheme was £65,000 in this year's estimates. Owing to the vigilance and effliciency of the sanitary authorities the country had been kept free from any such epidernic. This trifling insurance had enabled us to escape a disaster which would have been hundreds of times more costly than the insurance itself. -But such a piece of prevention did not lend itself to headlines, and the kind of critic who went in for terminological fireworks could see no definite return for the money spent. The same was true of the expenditure on maternity and child welfare. -The extra grants, entailing the expenditure of a few thousands, which had been made with a view to increasing the efficiency of nurses, health visitors, and others, by means of special training classes, had contributed to no small extent to the striking improvement in infant welfare statistics. A recent vote in Parliame'nt to cover a week's loss owing to the railway strike equalled the total expenditure by the Exchequer on the whole of the maternity and child welfare services in England and Wales for seven years. He was interested to see that one of the most flamboyant critics of his health expenditures had not hesitated to press for one more super-dreadnought over and above the Admiralty requirements, and that leviathan, if it were voted, would bury an amount equal to six or seven years' expenditure by the Exchequer on maternity and child welfare. Frankly, he himself would place the interests of British babies before the building ol barracks in Baghdad. In conclusion Dr. Addison referred to his housing scheme, two features of which, he said, would gradually come to be realized: first, the condition that no local authority or private builder could build more than a certain number of houses to the acre; secondly, the condition, coming into force in 1923, whereby all the major authorities of the country would be required to provide a town-planning scheme to govern the future development of their districts. This would lead to the gradual elimination of the biggest blot on our industrial system-namely, the inconsiderate crowding together of masses of the population, without regard to the needs of the people or the claims of the future. Sir MALCOLM MORRIS, Vice-President of the Federation, was in charge of the toast of the Minister of Health. In propOSiDg it he briefly reviewed the history of the Federation, which began, he said, in an effort to increase the number of medical men in Parliament. The medical men in the House of Commons numbered twelve at the present time. It was desirable that they should have fresh accessions. He hoped particularly that a woman doctor would find her way into Parliament to accompany the solitary lady who at present sat on the green benches. He hoped also that Lady Rhondda, whose interest in health questions was so acute, would secure admission to the House of Lords. The Federation had gone on to a wider effort to bring together the various organizations entitled to speak for the medical and allied professions. The central council of the Federation did not initiate schemes and then appeal to the constituent bodies. The Federation had no central policy, beyond that of providing a round table for conference. Its object was simply to secure the greatest common measure of effective opinion. It was faced with one great difficulty-the aloofness of the British Medical Association. As one of the officers of the Federation he would like again to offer to the British :Vedical Association the right hand of friendship. The Federatiou was not in antagonism to the Association; it-did not want to interfere with the Association's autonomy, and it appreciated enormously the good work which the Association had done in the past. But on these health questions they ought to speak as one body, including all who were immediately concerned in national health. Sir ALFRED MOND, in his response, agreed with the sentiment of the proposer that it was desirable that the medical profession should speak with unanimity and decision on questions of public health. When experts differed it was easy for the scoffer to refuse to listen to either party, and correspondingly hard for those who were responsible for-, a4ministration. Proceeding, he said that he had himself fallen on evil days: not only did a layman succeed a medical 'man, bnt his predecessor began his work at a time when it was assumed that the purse of the nation was bottomless, whereas he took office when the nation was buttoning up its pockeb. A Minister had to keep in his hands the clinical thermom9ter'of the House of Commons and to watch the temperatu chart Qf pulla IN T" bum" Big aDzoAir. JammAs JXU!ll 4, 1921] FEDERATION OF MEDICAL AND ALLIED SOCIETIES.