HC Deb 22 October 1942 vol 383 cc2078-9
27. Mr. Messer

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the serious position facing the hospital services in consequence of depletion of staff; and whether, in view of the danger of a breakdown of the services, he proposes to take any steps to deal with it?

Mr. E. Brown

I am aware that there is a shortage of staff at a number of hospitals, though my information does not suggest that there is any danger of a breakdown of the service. Both nursing and domestic work in hospitals is regarded as vital work for women of all ages, and I would refer, on this Question, to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service to my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) on 6th October, and to my hon. Friend the Member for Dud-deston (Mr. Simmonds) on 8th January. So far as trained nurses are concerned the total number of trained nurses available is insufficient to meet adequately the whole of the war-time demands upon them, but I believe that improvements can be secured by better distribution of those available, and after discussion with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service I have framed proposals with this object, in regard to which I am in consultation with representatives of employers and employed.

Mr. Messer

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not merely a question of nurses, but that the administrative staff has been cut to the bone, and that in one place which I could name there have been no fewer than six assistant masters within 12 months, and that now they cannot get anybody to replace one who has been called up?

Sir Joseph Lamb

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a large number of trained nurses are now being employed in Red Cross work in factories?