Catalogue description Ministry of Pensions, Hospital Management Branch, and Ministry of Health: Registered Files (HM Series)

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Details of MH 120
Reference: MH 120
Title: Ministry of Pensions, Hospital Management Branch, and Ministry of Health: Registered Files (HM Series)

This series relates to the health responsibilities which the Ministry of Pensions assumed in 1917 and those which it kept after 1921. They are concerned specifically with the accommodation of military pensioners of the two World Wars and the pre-1914 period in hospitals and other institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The file series appears to have been raised in the Hospital Management Branch of the Hospital and Organisation Division of the Ministry's headquarters in Norcross, Blackpool, shortly before the branch's transfer to the Ministry of Health in 1953. Many of the files in the series have been reregistered from an earlier series and they cover the whole period of the Ministry of Pension's responsibility for the treatment of disabled pensioners from 1917, when hospitals were the concern of the Medical Services Division, through the transfer of this work to the Local Administration and Organisation and Establishment Divisions which were based at Norcross from the 1940s. There are also some post 1953 files when the branch was part of the Ministry of Health.

As well as general policy matters the files relate to specific hospitals, such as Stoke Mandeville, and the hospitals for Polish nationals at Penley and Iscoyd Park, North Wales, which were set up under the Polish Resettlement Act 1947 and which the Ministry administered on behalf of the Ministry of Health during the period 1947-1953. They are also concerned with the provision of general practitioners in Ireland and with the transfer of hospital staff to the NHS. They include minutes of meetings of the Whitley Council for the Health Service 1948-1958.

Date: 1917-1974
Related material:

See also:

BN 59

BN 75

For further files in the HM series see PIN 38

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: HM file series
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Ministry of Health, Hospital Management Branch, 1953-1955

Ministry of Pensions, Hospitals and Organisation Division, 1952-1953

Ministry of Pensions, Medical Services Division, 1917-1953

Physical description: 58 file(s)
Custodial history: The files relating to the hospitals for Poles were transferred to the Ministry of Health and subsequently, in 1961, to the Welsh Hospital Board and then to the private office of the secretary of state for Wales. The rest of the files in the series were transferred to the Ministry of Health and then to the Department of Health and Social Security.
Administrative / biographical background:

When the powers of the Statutory Committee of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation, set up under the Naval & Military War Pensions Act 1915, were taken over by the Ministry of Pensions, under the Naval & Military War Pensions & (Transfer of Powers) Act 1917, the Ministry assumed responsibility for the health, training and employment of discharged, disabled officers and men. In 1919 responsibility for training was transferred to the Ministry of Labour and in 1921 the statutory responsibility for peacetime death and disability pensions and treatment was returned to the service departments.

Hospital accommodation provided by the Ministry of Pensions was of various kinds. Some hospitals were equipped and staffed by the Ministry and were Crown property. Some were wholly run and staffed by the Ministry but were in buildings which had been leased or lent to it, eg by the Red Cross Society or even by individuals. With general demobilisation in 1919 there was a large increase in the need for hospital beds and the Ministry took over some military hospitals from the War Office and also built new hospitals. Where specialist treatment was not needed men were accommodated as much as was possible near their homes by the Ministry paying for beds in voluntary and civil hospitals. Many of the pensioners eligible for hospital treatment were neurasthenics, paraplegics and epileptics or had advanced tuberculosis and they received treatment in specialist hospitals.

By 1921 the Ministry was maintaining 14,000 beds in 67 hospitals under its direct control. This number decreased from that time and by 31 March 1936 it had only 1,850 beds in 10 hospitals and a further 1,170 beds in non-ministry institutions. During the Second World War the number of hospitals increased but with the establishment of the NHS in 1948 the hospitals were gradually closed down or subsumed into that service.

In 1953 the Ministry of Pension's responsibilities in this area were transferred to the Ministry of Health under the Transfer of Functions (Ministry of Pensions) Order of that year. Leases of six hospital buildings in England and Wales and three units in NHS hospitals were also transferred.

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