HC Deb 23 July 1941 vol 373 cc879-80
39. Sir F. Fremantle

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why women medical officers recruited to the Navy are not given the rank, status and title accorded to male medical officers in the service?

Sir V. Warrender

Only one woman medical officer is employed, and she holds the relative rank of surgeonlieutenant, R.N.V.R., and receives the pay of an officer of that rank. She wears the distinguishing stripes of a surgeon-lieutenant on her sleeve.

Sir F. Fremantle

Does my hon. Friend recognise that that distinction is entirely insufficient for the duties that are required of the officer in this case and, in general, that the Admiralty are behindhand in not having women medical officers?

Sir V. Warrender

If we were to supply women doctors to look after the W.R.N.S. personnel, it would mean duplicating the medical staff, and that would lead to inefficiency. The W.R.N.S. were canvassed on their wishes in the matter, and only two-and-a-half per cent. expressed a wish to have women doctors.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

That shows how reactionary the Navy is.