Society of Medical Officers of Health: Annual Dinner

1927 BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)  
IMEDICAL JOURNAL 10 the practice of anatomy. He hbad alwalys kept his foot withiln the door of ni edical practice, however, because lie lhad nev-er beeni quite slre that some (lay hie nmiight not lha-e to opoia that (o10 (filite, w-idely aind stL-) iilto hiis ow-ni surgery. He proceeded to make a fcw remiiarks oni the rationalizing of medliciine. The great diffitculty in the way of mriaking me(liciine more strictly a scienice was that of educating the public. Aniy suelh effort would find itself
more » ... t would find itself confronted, for examiple, with the immense autlioiity wlich an address in Harley Street inispired, althoughl to the rational mindl thie name wvould mean nothlinlg at all, " but it does, you kniow." The way in wlhieh the doctor dr-ove up to one's door, or the way in which hiis tailor had sent himi out into the world, should be matters of absolute indiffeieuice to the rational patient, yet the doctor was apt to be assessed, not according to. his professionial wor'th, but accordinig to hiis outward aplrKarance. Every young mani or' wvomanli entolrillg the nuedical pirofessioni was deterninied to be a rational practitioner, with no jot or tittle of quackery; yet the young practitioner scarcely realized what ha was up againist, whliclh was 4nothing less thai human nature, with its complexities and occasional perversities. Nevertlheless, headway was beinig made. In the oldl days ik was the Church that ruled the world; niow it was cominig to be scientific kniowledge. No longer (lid the village surgeon go up) to the rectory and ask whether a certain thing was right to be done, bult the village rector went dowin the st-ceet to the surgery and said, " Wlhat do vou think? Can I preach this next Suniday? SOCIETY OF 31EDICAL OFFICERS OF HEALTH. Free State, t'he United States, and Brazil were all represenited at tlhe tables. Dr. SNELL, ill submiiittinig the toast of " The Ministry of healthl," did Inot tlhinlk it necessary in suheli an assembly to descr-ibe the birth anid the growtll of the Ministrv, but every miedical officei hoped that it would go on progressilng, anl experience no r etrogressive stages. In the eight years durinig whiclh the Ministry lhad been in existence there had been five Ministers. Perlhaps they inov'ed, withlout reluctanlce, to otlher lositions. But Mr. Chamlberlaill lhadl scored a " record " in that he had beeni in office for thlree years. All lpresent kniew Mr. Chaillberlaini's qualificationis. He took his duties so seriously that rec,ently lhe hlad been maki'ng excuriilsions inito valrious pairts of the counttry to stuldy local administration on the spot. There was onie thing whllich probably Mr. Clhamberlaini himiself did not know that lhad resulted from tllese visitsnanmely, that certain local magnates had, for the first tine, visite(I welfare cenltres, tuberculosis dispen-saries, anid other "fads " of their medical officers. Mr. NEVILLE CHAMBEritLAIN, in re-sponiding, said that it gave him the greatest pleasure to be present at that gatherinig in company with so maany fellow workers in the cause of public health. While agreeing thlat the visits to which the chairman had referr ed i migh-t have produced results of wlhich lie was unaware, lhe was bound to confess .that lie did niot kniow wlhetlher nmore to wonder at the .extent and variety of the duties which fell to tlhe public healtlh officials or to admire their skill, resource, and ingenuity. It was a remarkable fact tlhat, altlhouglh the medical officers were concelned nlot so miiuclh witlh tho treatmenit of disease as with its prevenition, the public had so well comprehended the value of the work donie that in these days of lamentation with regard to the burcden of rates ani(l taxes nio single voice was raised ini favouri of cuttinig downi tho prev-enltive services for whichl nimelical officers were resp)onsible. He was glad that ani iniereasiig niuiminber of local autiolrities welre realizinig the advanitage of emp)loying wvhlole-tiimie officers whsose attenitioni was niot likely to be distr-acted by differenit aiid peihliaps competinig coHisi(leirations. It was impolltant, if the best was to be got out of the public lhealth service, tihat there slhould be tlhe heartiest co-operatioi) between the Ministry on the onie hanid anid iliedical officers oni the other, anid also between medical officers tlhemiiselves. It was importaint also that tlhe relations betweenl the county medical officers anid distr'ict medical officers should be of the closest possible clharacter. The systemiiatizationi of their work and the friendly relations between those two sets of officers should always bo in tlhe uinid of mnembers of the society. Again, the efforts of local autliorities and their staffs could never reaclh full development unless the public co-operated witlh them; but it was niot reasonable to expect such co-operation uniless the public had soimie uinderstandinig of the dangers to be avoided anid the pu-pose of the inijunctionls laid dowin in hiealtlh matters. There was onie special way in which medical officers couild assist in the education of the public. The Ministry of Healtlh every year asked for a report from medical officers, anid for the most part received it-after a time! Up to last mouith over 130 reports for 1U26 had niot reaclhed the department. Such repor-ts were niot only of great assistanice to the public and to the general body of medical officers, but to the Minister himself, because they furnished a truer and more vivid picture of the coniditionis in the various localities than could be obtainied in aniy otlher way. Mr. Chamberlain thouglht that more uso mliglht be miiade of the m-iedical officers of kealth in tlhe xwork of researelh, not so miiuch in labolatory researelh as in tlle study of the mass of facts in their possessioni on matters witlh regard to whlichi, up to the presenit, there were no gelnerally agreed conlclusionls. It seeme(d to hiim that in regard to the actual results of vaccination-not only in small-pox, hut in otlher ciseases-to the diversity of pr-actice in regard to scarlet fever, and to several other matters, miiedical officers lad before them a vast unexplored field of investigation anId resealrlc. By takinig these mratters inlto their consider-atioli he believed that medical officeis wouldI suicceed in adldiing furthelr laurels to those alr-eady won, and would still futhelr increase the obligation under wlhiclh they ha(l p,laced the whole country. Lord EvrSTACE PERCY, in submittinig the healtlh of the society, begani by paying a tribute to the admir-able way ill w-hiclh it carried out one of its functions-niamiiely, co-op,eration witlh the Healtlh Committee of the League of Nationis in arraniginig for visits to this couintry of mlledical officers from abroadl. No more valuable work could be done in these days thani that whicll drew closer the bonds of internationial fellowsliip and aimed to consolidate the work of public lhea;lthl over the wlhole world. It was with a certaini amount of diffidenece that he spoke of the work of the Boalrd of Educationi ratlher than of the society, but lie migllt he permitted to deal with the main characteristics of medical work in the schlools. The system of miiedical inspection in the schools at thlree periods during schlool life lhad been practically completed, and the service was now colncerne(l with the developimeiit of metlhods of treatmnenit of the defects revealed by such inspections. The tr eatmienit of miinlor ailments lhad incireased from 576,1%3 cases in 1924 to 665,668 in 1926; of visual defects fromii 162,917 to 196,672.; of nose and throat operations from 34,854 to 68,250; alnd denital treatmiient-a part of the service p)articularly necessaiy to develop-from 654,365 to 852,517. S4uch growtll in two years indicated that the medical officers of lhealtlh and the schlool medical officetis wer-e really g;etting to grips with the chief remaining task in thle dlevelopiient of the school medical service. The mlost important feature of the last two years had beeni the developmeint of orthopaedic work throughout the COUnltry. Startinlg with a few authorities who had ortliopaedhic sections, in 1926 there were 132, or 47 more than in 1925, whlile Sschool clinics had increased from 70 to 122. Preventive treatmenlt wvas capvable of expanlsion1 in other directionls. Thle nlumbler of opven-air schools now beings
doi:10.1136/bmj.2.3490.1001 fatcat:ewg3e2e7avdpleu7nnarey26lm