These reports were produced each year by the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) of a district and set out the work done by his public health and sanitary officers. The reports provided vital data on birth and death rates, infant mortality, incidence of infectious and other diseases, and a general statement on the health of the population. As the work of public health departments expanded, so too did the reports: by the 1930s we are given details on such matters as:
- numbers visiting maternity and child welfare clinics
- pints of free milk dispensed
- statistics for use of venereal disease clinics
- numbers of tubercular children attending open-air schools
- Poor Law infirmaries and municipal hospitals.
While over time the data that was to be included in annual reports was standardised, there was still a large degree of leeway. Consequently the reports show diversity both between different areas at the same time, and for the same place at different times. On top of this, even standard statistics - such as maternal mortality rates - might be presented in various forms by different MOHs, meaning that direct comparisons can be difficult. Furthermore, the permissive nature of the legislation meant that reports varied greatly in length: while interwar Poplar's commonly ran to over 120 pages, those of wealthy Richmond were less than a third that.
These reports are now available online at the Wellcome Library's site here.