HC Deb 11 February 1943 vol 386 cc1420-2
4. Miss Ward

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is yet in a position to announce the results of his consultations with the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, and the nursing and midwifery organisations concerned, on the subject of securing a better supply and distribution of nurses and midwives?

Mr. E. Bevin

Yes, Sir. The present shortage and uneven distribution of nurses and midwives for civilian work demand special measures. After consultation with the organisations representing the interested parties and in agreement with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, I have decided to appoint a National Advisory Council for the Recruitment and Distribution of Nurses and Midwives to advise me on all questions relating to the recruitment and distribution of male and female nurses and of midwives on civilian work. The Council, which will be presided over by a Parliamentary Secretary to my Ministry and with which officers of the Departments concerned will be associated, will consist of representatives nominated by the various organisations concerned. With the permission of my hon. Friend I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing the constitution of the Council.

I am asking the Council to meet at an early date and to give immediate consideration to measures for increasing recruitment, to arrangements for a special registration of nurses and midwives and to the priority to be accorded to the different demands for the different types of nurses and midwives, as well as to make suggestions for easing the situation in respect of certain types of hospitals with large immediate demands, such as tuberculosis and mental institutions. There is, of course, no intention of changing existing arrangements where those are working satisfactorily.

The administration of such measures as are decided upon will be entrusted to the Appointments Department of my Ministry acting where necessary through the local Appointments Offices, each of which will be assisted in its work by a Local Advisory Committee.

In undertaking this new and important duty, I have been greatly encouraged by the whole-hearted and helpful co-operation which I have received from the organisations I have consulted in drawing up the scheme. On that basis I feel confident that we shall be able to solve the difficult problems with which we shall have to deal and to maintain the very high position which the nursing and midwifery professions deservedly occupy in the public regard.

Miss Ward

Can my right hon. Friend say whether that statement implies that the nursing services of, the Ministry of Health will be transferred to the Ministry of Labour?

Mr. Bevin

No, Sir.

Mr. Messer

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the problem is not limited to nurses and midwives, but that if the denudation of administrative staffs goes on, the nurses will not be able to carry on because of the inability of the hospitals to do their job?

Mr. Bevin

That is another question.

Sir Francis Fremantle

Will the Commission also have power to deal with the nursing services in the three Fighting Services, especially sick-bay rating nurses, who, after their discharge, will be extremely useful?

Mr. Bevin

Anyone discharged from any Service who has such experience will be passed on to the Appointments Department, and will then come under the purview of this Department.

Following is the statement:


Chairman: Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service (Mr. McCorquodale).

Representatives of the following organisations:—

Royal Colege of Nursing 4*
Association of Matrons 2
Trades Union Congress General Council 2
National Association of Local Government Officers 1
King Edward's Hospital Fund (Nursing Recruitment Centre) 1
College of Midwives 2
Joint War Organisation of the Red Cross and St. John of Jerusalem 1
Queen's Institute of District Nursing 1
London County Council 1
Association of Municipal Corporations 1
County Councils Association 1
Association of Councils of Counties of Cities in Scotland 1
Association of County Councils in Scotland 1
Mental Hospitals Association 1
British Hospitals Association 3*
*Including 1 from Scotland.