HC Deb 10 July 1934 vol 292 cc173-5

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to enable local and county authorities to provide for domiciliary nursing services. This Bill, which has the support of Members of all parties in the House, is intended to fill a gap in the existing laws which provide for nursing facilities for the sick poor. During the last 60 years in which the deepening sense of social duty has been reflected in the Statute Book, the laws relating to this branch of philanthropy have never been codified. They have been made piecemeal and unsystematically, and the result is that at the present time there is a gap. Since 1875, local authorities have been able to provide hospitals; since 1925 they have been able to subscribe to voluntary hospitals; since 1929 they have been under the duty of preparing schemes for the approval of the Ministry of Health with regard to maternity and child welfare services; but, except in cases of infectious disease, they are not legally entitled to contribute to voluntary associations for the provision of district nurses for the care of the poor who cannot pay for those services.

The result is that in many districts there are no nursing associations or, where voluntary associations are inadequately equipped with money, the work of home nursing and the care of nonpaying patients goes unfulfilled. The possibility of people attending hospitals as out-patients does not meet the case. The hospitals are often distant, and they do not, in any event, meet the need. Many cases of tuberculosis, cancer, ulcer and puerperal complaints are left without nurses, to the great pain of the patient and to the discomfort of the homes and families where they live.

Owing to this disability, there is a considerable shortage of district nurses. In Scotland there is one to every 5,800 of the population, while in certain parts of Glamorganshire where the needs are very great, there is only one to every 35,000 of the population. The Bill is an enabling Bill, purely permissive. It enables county and local authorities to provide district domiciliary nursing services for the sick inhabitants of their district, and, more particularly, to make agreements with voluntary associations and voluntary institutions for the supply of such district nurses. It enables local authorities to appoint and pay nurses, to provide accommodation and, within limits set out in the Bill, to make reasonable subscriptions or donations to voluntary associations. It is a very short Bill, and I earnestly hope it will have the support of the Ministry of Health so that it will have a chance of passing into law. It is approved by representatives of all parties. It speaks for itself, and it needs no rhetoric from me to commend it to the House.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir Gerald Hurst, Miss Rathbone, Miss Lloyd George, Captain Elliston, Sir Francis Fremantle, Sir William Jenkins, Mr. Brocklebank, Mr. David Davies, Captain Fuller, and Captain Cunningham-Reid.