HC Deb 14 June 1945 vol 411 cc1750-1
7. Earl Winterton

asked the Minister of Labour in view of the continued shortage of both nurses and domestic servants in municipal and voluntary hospitals, what steps are being taken to increase the number of persons available for each of these categories of hospital workers in the next few months.

Mr. Butler

I am taking every step in my power in consultation with the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland. For nurses, these steps include arrangements for release from civilian work of practically all volunteers for nursing, and the arrangement for special releases from the Services of certain men and women volunteers with experience of nursing. We are also making extensive use of publicity by means of specially prepared booklets, films and advertisements. The special facilities of Appointments Offices and of the Employment Exchange Service will continue to bring full knowledge of the opportunities in nursing before suitable men and women. On the steps taken to assist hospitals to obtain domestic workers, I would refer my right hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Wellingborough (Sir A. James) on 7th December, 1944, a copy of which I am sending to him. I propose, in addition, to give further publicity to these needs.

Earl Winterton

May I, as chairman of a hospital, ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that the answer to which he alluded refers to a state of affairs which has become worse instead of better? At present a number of nurses are having to perform domestic duties. Is there not need for a drastic overhaul of the policy of his predecessor in the matter?

Mr. Butler

The answer referred chiefly to domestic work in hospitals. In the case of nurses there is some information which I have given my Noble Friend, which he will no doubt study, but in general I cannot say how difficult I think the position is and how much I intend to do my best to help it.

Dr. Edith Summerskill

Do the plans include an increase in the rate of pay for nurses?

Mr. Butler

I must have another Question on that.

Miss Rathbone

Is any kind of domestic help available, other than that under the scheme started by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, for women with children, and women doctors, who badly need service in their own homes?

Mr. Butler

Although this raises a rather wider subject, there has been a recent report on it, and it is one aspect of the matter to which we are giving consideration.