HC Deb 25 January 1945 vol 407 cc948-9
12. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will take steps to remedy the lack of institution and hospital accommodation due to shortage of nursing and domestic staff.

Mr. Bevin

The provision of institution and hospital accommodation comes within the purview of my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Health, but so far as the question concerns the supply of nursing staff to enable additional beds to be opened, hospitals and institutions already have the highest priority for such nursing staff as they require urgently. During the nine months ended 30th September, 1944, the net increase in the number of nursing staff employed in hospitals and institutions was approximately 3,500, of which about 600 were part-time nurses. As regards the supply of domestic staff, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Welling-borough (Wing-Commander James) on 7th December, 1944, a copy of which I am sending to him.

Sir W. Smithers

While realising the great difficulties, may I ask the Minister if he will re-examine some of the typical cases I have sent him? Does he realise that wards could be opened, whereas in present circumstances further wards may be closed? Will he do his utmost to ameliorate the position?

Mr. Bevin

I can assure my hon. Friend that nothing has given me greater anxiety than the problem of nursing and domestic staffs in hospitals, but it is only fair that I should remind the House that in wartime I cannot make good the neglect of years, with all the other claims that are made upon me.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

If the Rushcliffe recommendations have failed to popularise nursing, will my right hon. Friend consider whether the wage rates need revising?

Mr. Bevin

I think that the Rushcliffe Report will popularise nursing at the end of the war, when the supply changes; but when there is such a huge claim for personnel for so many purposes connected with the war, I quite understand that it is difficult to get people to take up this career.