HC Deb 16 November 1944 vol 404 cc2093-4
14. Mr. Keeling

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the continued shortage of cooks, porters, laundry workers, waitresses, wardmaids, office cleaners and housemaids at the London Hospital and other hospitals in the London region threatens to cause the closing of beds for which patients are waiting; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. Bevin

Yes, Sir, I am aware of the shortage of staff in the London hospitals and I am glad to have this opportunity to make a statement on the position.

During the period of the heavy "flying-bomb" attacks, the London hospitals evacuated a large number of their patients and their staff demands were much reduced. In the last two months these demands, enlarged by the need to replace excessive wastage, consequent upon the dislocation caused by the bombing, again became urgent. This coincided with the need to provide domestic staff for the hostels for building workers brought into London to repair bomb damaged houses, a measure pressed from all quarters as one demanding the highest priority. The extent of this unexpected drain on our manpower resources is shown by the fact that 3,400 domestic workers have been found for these hostels.

Even during this exceptionally difficult period the hospitals were not neglected and in the past two months 63 cooks, 756 full-time and 115 part-time domestic workers and 163 orderlies, porters, stokers and maintenance men were placed. I am sending my hon. Friend details of placings in the London Hospital to which be makes specific reference, and the figures show that of 62 domestic vacancies notified, from 23rd August to 7th November, 51 applicants have been submitted and 44 placed. Further demands have since been received. Now that the staffing of the building workers hostels is almost completed, I hope that it will be possible to make further progress in meeting the demands of hospitals which will enjoy first priority for the supply of domestic labour.

Mr. Keeling

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that it would be a great calamity if beds had to be closed owing to lack of staff, and does he hope that he will be able to avoid that?

Mr. Bevin

I think so; I am pressing on with it, but I would make all urgent appeal to the voluntary hospitals in London to introduce a little more up-to-date personnel management. It would help me enormously if their staffing measures were not so antiquated.

Captain Peter Macdonald

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware not only the London hospitals but other hospitals in the country find themselves in this position with regard to cooks and staff; and will he give as much consideration to county hospitals as he is giving to London hospitals?

Mr. Bevin

Yes, Sir, there is first priority for hospitals all over the country.