HC Deb 22 October 1942 vol 383 cc2077-8
25. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the inadequate accommodation for maternity cases in London, he proposes to take any action in the matter?

Mr. E. Brown

The accommodation for London mothers includes in addition to the beds available in London those available at some 100 Emergency Maternity Homes which were established in the reception areas. The adequacy of the provision in London has recently been under discussion between officers of my Department and of the London County Council. Additional beds are being provided, but the number which can be brought into use depends primarily on the number of trained staff who can be made available. I have framed proposals with a view to ensuring that more of the women qualifying as midwives will undertake to practise as midwives, and after discussion with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service I am in consultation with representatives of employers and employed on this question.

Dr. Summerskill

Is the Minister aware that unless some action is taken in this matter the scarcity will be reflected in maternal mortality figures next year?

Mr. Brown

I am quite aware of the importance of the matter.

Mr. Messer

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Midwives Board has issued a report in which it is stated that there is no shortage of midwives, but that the midwives are not doing the work?

Mr. Brown

As I indicated in my answer, that is the real problem. A number of trained and qualified women are not doing the work.