The Gray-Topping survey of hospitals

Surveying the country

Health Minister, Ernest Brown, announced a survey of London hospitals in 1941. This was carried out by Dr Archibald Gray, President of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Dr Graham Topping, deputy medical officer of health of the LCC.

The aim was to collate practical information about the facilities available in hospital and assess the adequacy of these facilities, including the number of beds and clinical conditions treated for planning purposes.

Eventually, nine more surveys were conducted, covering the entire country, concluding in 1944. The Nuffield Provincial Hospitals Trust was co-sponsor of some of the surveys.

The findings

Those drafting the White Paper on a National Health Service (1944) had access to (and were informed by) early findings from the surveys. However, the results were not published until 1945. They revealed the significant uneven spread of hospital beds, bed shortages, poor coordination between hospitals and uneven consultant staffing in voluntary hospitals.

The findings were highly critical of the way the chronically sick were treated. They suggested that people should not be labelled as such, to avoid them being treated as incurable and thus receive a lower standard of care.

The recommendations of the survey received some criticism, especially in areas where hospitals had been recommended for closure. The survey was, however, an essential tool for hospital planners.


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