HC Deb 11 February 1943 vol 386 cc1422-4
12. Sir Joseph Lamb

asked the Minister of Health whether he has any statement to make about the Report of the Committee on Nurses' Salaries and the action he proposes to take thereon?

Mr. E. Brown

Yes, Sir. I have received from my Noble Friend Lord Rushcliffe the first Report of the Committee which I appointed under his chairmanship on the salaries, emoluments and other conditions of service of nurses. This Report deals with female nurses in hospitals and will thus cover the majority of the nursing profession. The Report is being presented as a Command Paper and copies will be available to-day in the Vote Office.

As Members will be able to see from the Report and its schedules, the scope of the Committee's work has been intricate and far-reaching, and the House will, I am sure, agree with me in congratulating both Lord Rushcliffe and the representatives of employers and of nurses who have constituted the two panels of the Committee on their successful efforts to reach an agreement and to put on an improved and uniform basis salaries and other conditions of service of nurses. It is estimated that the total additional cost of bringing these recommendations into operation will be between £1,500,000 and £2,000,000 per annum. I am to-day communicating with local authorities and voluntary hospitals commending to them the recommendations made in the Report and with the agreement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer am informing them that the Government are prepared to pay both to local authorities and to voluntary hospitals 50 per cent. of any increased expenditure in which they are involved in giving effect to the recommendations.

The Committee are already considering the salaries and conditions of service of other groups of nurses, and have stated their intention of recommending that the proposals they formulate for them shall operate from the same date as the recommendations made in the present Report. I am informed also that the Midwives' Salaries Committee will recommend that their proposals about midwives shall operate from the same date. I should like to take this opportunity of paying a special tribute to nurses and midwives, whose work during the long years of war has been such a vital contribution to the national effort, and will be no less vital when peace is restored.

20. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Health whether he can now make a statement regarding the effective working of the Central Midwives Board; and when the Report and statement by the Rushcliffe Committee can be expected regarding the whole question of the supply of midwives throughout the country?

Mr. Brown

I believe the Central Midwives Board to be working effectively, as in the past. I am informed by my Noble Friend Lord Rushcliffe that the Committee on the salaries and emoluments of midwives, of which he is Chairman, is actively considering the matters within its reference and will report as soon as possible, but he is not yet able to give an indication of the date. I would also refer my hon. Friend to the statement just made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service about the recruitment and distribution of mid-wives and nurses.

Mr. Be la Bère

Is the Minister aware that while admitting that the Central Mid-wives Board are doing their best, they are a law to themselves, that it is absolutely imperative that something should be done immediately to ensure an adequate supply of midwives, and that the matter is not one to be lightly played with?

Mr. Messer

Is it not true that there are a large number, a really big number, of registered midwives who are not doing midwifery work?