The best results are obtained only by getting into touch with the men personally

Thousands of wounded or sick troops had now returned home. the nation owed them support for their service. Some needed medical help, others re-training for new occupations, or help finding jobs.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that they have been notified of approximately 2,524 disabled soldiers and sailors discharged into the county. Of the cases now entered upon the Register, which exclude those being investigated, the numbers specifying disabilities are as follows:

Amputation of leg or foot 51
Amputation of arm or hand 34
Other wounds or injuries to leg or foot 353
Other wounds or injuries to arm or hand 147
Other wounds or injuries to head 69
Other wounds or injuries 192
Blindness and other eye affections 77
Heart diseases 217
Chest complaints 93
Tuberculosis 101
Deafness and affections of the ear 72
Rheumatism 151
Epilepsy 37
Neurasthenia 47
Other mental affections 31
Other disabilities 532

Of this number all have been provided with a Medical Attendant [i.e. a doctor] under the National Health Insurance Act, and special treatment, including the supply or repair of artificial limbs and surgical appliances, has been provided in accordance with the recommendations of Military Authorities, Medical Boards or ordinary medical Attendants.

From the 1 April 1917, 280 cases have received Institutional treatment – both in and out-patient – at Military Hospitals, Civil Hospitals, Sanatoria, Cottage Hospitals or Convalescent Homes.
The total number of tuberculous soldiers and sailors to date is 101, and of these 72 have received Institutional treatment within the County under the County Scheme and three have received Institutional treatment outside the County Scheme. This treatment is provided through the County Insurance Committee.

The Committee has assisted with Buckinghamshire War Pensions Committee in the provision of a new wing for Orthopaedic Treatment at the King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor. This, which was urgently needed, and will be of the greatest benefit to men in that part of the county, will be opened in the course of two or three weeks. The Committee has also been instrumental with the Buckinghamshire Committee in obtaining the approval of the Minister of Pensions to a proposed Scheme for the provision, equipment, and establishment of a special hospital for totally disabled soldiers and sailors at Slough and an assurance from the Ministry of adequate fees for maintenance thereof. Her Royal Highness Princess Alice is forming a provisional Committee, and we have every hope that the proposed arrangements will e speedily carried into effect.

The Disablements Committee of the Borough of Reading propose to prmote a Scheme for the provision in the County of a Convalescent Home. They have already an assurance from Sir John Collie, Director of Medical Services at the Pensions Ministry, warmly welcoming the proposal and promising a grant in aid of the initial expenditure and adequate fees for maintenance. In this case your Committee endorse the resolution passed by the Executive of the Committee for the Joint Area to the effect that while they consider “Holmwood”, the residence suggested, suitable as a Home for Neurasthenics, urgently needed, they are not prepared to take any steps to provide or equip these premises for such a purpose, this being essentially a national responsibility. They still hope, however, that an Institution so urgently needed may be provided.

The Committee is of opinion that there is still a deficiency of Hospital accommodation within the County Area, and are glad to be able to report that the matter is under the consideration of the Minister and that special arrangements are likely to be made to increase such accommodation.

Under regulations made by the Ministry regarding Sick Nursing at Home, the Committee is in a position to extend the arrangements previously made with the County Nursing Association for the nursing of sick and disabled men in their own homes.

Medical referees have been appointed by the Pensions Minister to act as consultants within the area dealt with by this Committee.
A Board for the medical examination of deaf solders and sailors sits weekly, this Committee arranging for the attendances of the man for examination by members of the Board and providing treatment recommended by them.

Arrangements are also made under the Ivory Cross for special dental treatment.

TRAINING

During the last year the Committee have received approximately 140 applications for training. 68 of these have been or are being trained as follows:

Electrical training 9
Engineering and motor tractor work 10
Dental mechanics 3
Boot-repairing 11
Agriculture 2
Horticulture 8
Carpentering and joinery 7
Lip-reading 2
Diamond polishing 3
Clerical work 2
Hurdle making 1
Tailoring 2
Fancy leatherwork 1
St Dunstan’s 2
Upholstery 1
Iron moulding – pattern making 1
Hairdressing 1
Stockman 1
Light metalwork 1

Total 68

Of the applications for training, 24 cases received from other War Pensions Committees were found unsuitable. Five men have stopped their training at their own wish and three on account of health. The remaining cases where application was made for training proved unsuitable for various reasons.

The training has been provided at special institutions in London and Swindon and at institutions within the five counties, namely Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Isle of Wight, &c, comprising the area of the Joint Committee.

In Berkshire itself, Gardening in the Royal Gardens at Windsor, Agriculture and Boot-repairing at Basildon. The Committee regret the extremely small number of applications for training in Agriculture, but in explanation they can only suggest that a considerable number of these men whose disablement allows them to do so, return to their pre-war occupation. Of the cases applying from London and other city areas, many of them are found to be tubercular and unsuitable.

The University College Scheme for training in special branches of Horticulture at Shinfield is now ready to receive men for training and will be approved by the Ministry so soon as approval is applied for. Unfortunately, until negotiations pending between the Committee and the Ministry with reference to an increase of allowances sufficient to enable the men to pay the cost of maintenance is settled, the Committee is not likely to find men willing to avail themselves of this exceptionally good opportunity for scientific and practical training.

The Committee has under consideration the advisability of instituting a Scheme for the training of suitable men in Motor Tractor work and Motor Ploughing. Pending a draft Scheme, arrangements have been made for the employment of men by Mr Baker of Compton, Tractor Representative for Berkshire.

During the past five months many men have been placed in employment suitable to their disability, and in addition to these a large number had been previously provided with employment by this Committee or the Labour Bureau, and many have returned to their pre-war occupation.

Information has been received from the Ministry of Pensions as to the establishment of within the area of the Reading Labour Exchange, comprising the whole of the County and County Borough, of a Joint Advisory Committee of members of the Local Employment Exchange, Local Advisory Committee and Local War Pensions Committee.

In the opinion of your Committee this would lead to unnecessary confusion and delay and experience has shown that the best results are obtained only by getting into touch with the men personally. Therefore, the Berkshire Committee has for the present declined the invitation to join the Committee. We have to report that the Committee for the Swindon are has taken a similar course.

Since the last meeting of the Committee, 684 additional notifications of discharged men have been received, bringing the total to 2,524, and have been sent out for investigation by Sub-committees as follows:

Abingdon 64
Easthampstead 25
Faringdon 34
Hungerford 18
Lambourn 7
Maidenhead 107
Newbury 88
Reading (Rural) 54
Wallingford 36
Wantage 36
Windsor 128
Wokingham 87

During the same period 393 cases have been considered and dealt with by the Disablements Committee, and treatment, institutional and otherwise, sanatorium treatment and training, has been, or is being, provided in all the cases that have been found suitable.

Since the last meeting of your Committee the following have been co-opted as members of the Sub-committee:

Sergeant P Lay – to represent discharged soldiers
The Rev. H P Brown, Wallingford
Mr W B Ball, Abingdon
Capt. Peters, to represent the Soldiers and Sailors Help Society
Major Vaughan Williams

Francis Bate, Chairman
20 April, 1918

Report of Disablements Sub-committee to Berkshire War Pensions Committee (C/CL/C1/1/21)

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