HC Deb 09 July 1942 vol 381 cc924-5
24. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the present shortage of nurses and the special value of the profession, he will take further steps to improve the status of the nursing services throughout the country?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Ernest Brown)

I have taken various steps which will, I hope, help to secure for the nurse a more general recognition of her importance and proper status. If my hon. Friend will let me know what further steps he has in mind, I will gladly consider them.

Mr. De la Bère

Is not my right hon. Friend aware of the magnificent service rendered by the nursing services, both past and present, and is he not further aware of the very meagre recognition they have had? Will he take steps really to improve their position, which is not very good at the present time?

Mr. Brown

I think my hon. Friend must have been so busy on other things that he is not aware of the fact that in April, 1941, we set up a special Nursing. Division in the Ministry, to the great gratification of all. We take every opportunity to impress on the public the importance of nursing. As far as improvement in salaries and conditions is concerned, I have set up a Committee under Lord Rushcliffe, and that Committee' is at this moment reviewing the conditions, salaries and emoluments of the nursing service. Furthermore, nursing is recognised as vital war work by the Minister of Labour and National Service. I think my hon. Friend must have overlooked all this.

Mr. De la Bère

Can the Minister tell us what the. Committee have achieved, because nothing has been done as yet? Is he aware that I have plenty of time to deal with things which really matter, and I have gone into this very fully indeed?

Mr. Brown

If the hon. Member has any evidence of a practical character, Lord Rushcliffe's Committee will be glad to have it.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Is it not a fact that nurses are overworked and underpaid?

Dr. Edith Summerskill

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that, however many committees he sets up, while he allows young nurses to be paid £40 a year he will never solve this problem?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Lady knows that that is not quite a fair question. As far as my administrative power is concerned, within two months of my coming to the Ministry steps were taken to improve the conditions of the Civil Nursing Reserve. This Committee was set up for the specific purpose of carrying out what the whole country would desire, a proper recognition of the value of this great service.

Mr. De la Bère

It is a scandal of the first magnitude.

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