HC Deb 12 April 1945 vol 409 cc1959-60
26. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health what is the approximate shortage of nurses in civil hospitals; the number now training for the profession; to what extent the deficiency is being reduced; and what further steps will be taken to increase nursing, medical and domestic staffs.

Mr. Willink

The total number of additional nursing staff of all grades estimated to be required on 1st November, 1944, at civilian hospitals (other than maternity hospitals and mental hospitals) was 12,355. On the same date the number of student nurses in training in these hospitals was 38,343. The overall shortage has not been reduced during the past year, the wastage having slightly exceeded the considerable intake. Every practicable step is being and will be taken by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service, in consultation with me to induce suitable women to undertake nursing and to redistribute the available nurses to the best advantage. The highest priority is also given by my right hon. Friend to the filling of vacancies in hospitals for domestic staff.

Any general increase of medical staffs is not possible at present owing to the heavy demands on the limited number of doctors available, but where special need is shown the Central Medical War Committee is prepared to consider an increase of the approved establishment.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the right hon. are learned Gentleman appreciate that this matter is rather serious and deserves special attention? Will he give it extra consideration?

Mr. Willink

It would be difficult to give the subject more consideration than it is getting at present. It is considered a most serious matter.

Sir Joseph Lamb

Will the Minister have inquiries made of industrial firms now employing certified nurses on duties which might possibly be done by Red Cross trained women? Will he see if he can get some of these nurses back into the hospitals?

Mr. Willink

That is being taken into account and will continue to be taken into account.