HC Deb 05 February 1942 vol 377 cc1265-7
30. Sir Leonard Lyle

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the number of idle doctors in uniform and the shortage of medical men in civil life; and whether he will see that the Fighting Forces provide, where possible, some measure of interworking between their respective medical men so as to simplify and accelerate medical attention and liberate numbers of such medical men after a brief period of attachment to their units to enable them to familiarise themselves with their prospective duties, on the understanding that should any sudden emergency arise they will at once be recalled to their posts?

Mr. E. Brown

All practicable steps to secure the economical use of doctors in His Majesty's Forces and in civilian services, including the measures referred to in the Question, are being examined by the Medical Personnel (Priority) Com- mittee under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Dominions. The scope of this Committee and a summary of an interim report are set out in the replies which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) on 19th June and 2nd October last. I understand that further co-operation between the medical branches of the three Services has already been secured in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee and of the earlier Committee presided over by Sir Arthur Robinson, thus reducing, without any loss of efficiency in the Services, the number of doctors that would otherwise have been required. A system of releasing doctors from the Services to civilian practice, where there are special reasons for this course, is already in operation.

Sir L. Lyle

Is there not a great danger to the civil population, and therefore to the war effort, if the present methods are persisted in, and will not the right hon. Gentleman make a representation to the War Office on the matter?

Mr. Brown

If my hon. Friend will look at the facts, he will see that this work is under the chairmanship of my right hon. Friend, and a most powerful committee.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

In spite of the Minister's reassurance, is he aware that a number of doctors are doing clerical work who might be released for clinical work?

Mr. Brown

If the hon. Lady knows of cases, perhaps she will let me have the facts.

Mr. Buchanan

Whom have we to approach when we are aware of cases in which doctors have been refused by the Army authorities?

Mr. Brown

In the case of England and Wales perhaps the hon. Member had better let me know. In the case of Scotland, the Secretary of State.

Mr. De la Bère

Is it not necessary to separate the true from the false and the real from the unreal?

32. Mr. Messer

asked the Minister of Health whether he will take steps to ensure that, in the calling-up of doctors, the medical staffs employed at factories shall not be depleted to a level impairing efficiency?

Mr. E. Brown

The selection of doctors for recruitment to His Majesty's Forces is made by the Central Medical War Committee and its local committees, with due regard to civilian medical needs, and before proposing a factory medical officer for recruitment these Committees satisfy themselves that suitable arrangements can be made for carrying on his work.

Mr. Messer

Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that some factories are depleted entirely of their medical staffs and that in one case a factory employing 6,000 people has no medical officer?

Mr. Brown

I will consult with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, if the hon. Member will give me the details.