HC Deb 11 May 1944 vol 399 cc2060-1
9. Major Nield

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to relieve the acute shortage of staff in mental hospitals; and if he is able to say what progress has been made in this direction.

Mr. Bevin

Since the registration of all nurses and midwives took place in April, 1943, under the Nurses and Midwives (Registration for Employment) Order, 1943, steps have been taken by my Department to increase the number of new entrants to the nursing and midwifery profession, to secure the return to these professions of women with experience who are not now employed in them, and to see that women with special qualifications are employed in posts where those qualifications will be used. Since August, 1943, nearly 1,800 women have been placed by the appointments offices of my Department in employment, or training in mental nursing work, and, in addition, nearly 550 persons have been engaged by mental hospitals and institutions direct. As a further step to improve the position in this and other shortage fields of nursing work, mental nursing has been included amongst the fields of special service which newly state registered nurses are required to perform for 12 months after registration.

Mr. Bowles

In view of the difficulty indicated, would my right hon. Friend consider consulting the Minister of Health to see whether some of these mental patients could not be let out?

Mr. Bevin

Where should I transfer them to? Here?

Sir Joseph Lamb

When my right hon. Friend refers to mental nurses, does he mean male or female, or does he include both?

Mr. Sevin


Mr. Sorensen

Would not my right hon. Friend bear in mind that in any matters concerning mental hospitals, he should have the closest consultation with the Minister of Health, in regard to patients?

Mr. Bevin

Obviously. All I do is to provide training. The actual work of dealing with the hospitals is my right hon. and learned Friend's job.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that many patients in mental hospitals are quite capable of assisting in nursing?

Mr. Bevin

All questions dealing with the administration of the hospital service should be addressed to my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Health.