HC Deb 18 March 1919 vol 113 cc1883-4
9 Major MOLSON

asked the Secretary for War (1) whether, in view of the fact that doctors and nurses have been demobilised at a slower rate than other ranks, he will state if all field ambulances and casualty clearing stations have been demobilised in areas where hostilities have ceased; (2) whether, in view of the fact that doctors and nurses were demobilised at a slower rate than the rest of the Army during the first four months since the Armistice, and that Territorial and temporary commissioned doctors could only be demobilised on application being received from the Ministry of National Service, he would give orders to remove that restriction in order to meet the present urgent public needs for medical service, and also that the doctors' own applications for discharge be considered?

61. Lieutenant-Colonel WEIGALL

also asked the Secretary for War what is the reason for the slow rate of demobilisation of Army doctors?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Churchill)

I was informed that the delay in the more rapid demobilisation of medical officers was, in the main, due to the fact that since the Armistice military hospitals have had to deal with large numbers of repatriated prisoners of war, the greatly increased numbers of enemy prisoners, and with hospital population which was transferred to military hospitals both at home and abroad on the closing of auxiliary American hospitals and those belonging to the Dominions. It was also stated that the large number of civil medical practitioners released by the closing of the other hospitals mentioned was not included in any returns of the numbers demobilised. However, as I told the House, I did not consider these reasons sufficient to explain the proportion of doctors and soldiers, respectively, demobilised. I have, therefore, given directions for a prompt and more general demobilisation of medical officers from the Royal Army Medical Corps. In consequence, the Minister of National Service has agreed with the War Office that the restricted procedure of selection of individuals for release shall be discontinued. There has not been much time for the fruits of these measures to become apparent, but I may add that as the result of the directions given the rate of releases both of doctors and nurses has greatly increased. In the past week, for example, about 700 doctors have been released.