HC Deb 31 May 1945 vol 411 cc350-1
57. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the conditions of nurses in tuberculosis sanatoria; what is the minimum age for such nurses; how it compares with that for other nursing; if he has particulars respecting the number of nurses who catch this disease; and what precautions are urged on all hospitals to safeguard nurses, especially young nurses.

Mr. Willink

Yes, Sir. In co-operation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service, I have had under consideration the conditions in a number of sanatoria. Many are satisfactory; others have defects that could be remedied only by building that cannot at present be undertaken; others are in isolated situations, so that the provision of certain amenities is difficult. Such steps as are practicable in present circumstances are being taken to remedy these defects. There is no prescribed minimum age either for tuberculosis nursing or for other types of nursing. It is preferable that girls undertaking nursing should not be under 18, and the Athlone Committee, which reported in 1938, considered that 17 should be the minimum age. Statistics as to the incidence of tuberculosis among sanatorium nurses are not available, but the general opinion of experts is that the sanatorium nurse is at no greater risk than other nurses. An inquiry is in progress, under the auspices of the Joint Tuberculosis Council. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of a Circular that I issued in March of last year, on the subject of the last part of the Question.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that quite a number of medical experts, including medical officers of health, declare that some of the younger nurses are more prone to catch this disease than the older ones? Will he give an assurance that he will pay particular care to the incidence of this disease among nurses, particularly among young girls, and will he ensure that no girls under 18 are employed as nurses in sanatoria?

Mr. Willink

On the first point, I am sure that the inquiry will take into account the considerations mentioned by the hon. Member. On the second point, he will understand that I must have notice on a question of that kind.