HC Deb 17 October 1946 vol 427 cc1049-50
42. Sir P. Hannon

asked the Minister of Health if he has been informed of the acute shortage of nurses in Birmingham hospitals, and that the Birmingham Public Assistance Committee is now confronted with the possible closing of certain wards in the local infirmary, and if measures can be expedited to augment the essential nursing services.

Mr. Bevan

Yes, Sir. The shortage of nurses is unfortunately widespread, and I know that the Birmingham Public Assistance Committee is in particular difficulty. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and I are doing all we can to increase recruitment, by the improvement of pay and working conditions, publicity campaigns and other similar measures. I understand that the Birmingham authorities are undertaking a special recruiting campaign to deal with their particular problem.

Sir P. Hannon

Does the Minister contemplate the introduction of some national scheme to encourage larger recruitment of nurses for hospitals? The outlook for hospitals this coming winter is very serious indeed.

Mr. Bevan

We have already got under way a national campaign, and when the National Health Bill is on the Statute Book, we shall really have a national scheme.

Mrs. Braddock

In view of the fact that there is a definite shortage, does not my right hon. Friend agree that the time has come when the whole question of recruitment and methods of training nurses should be inquired into?

Mr. Bevan

It is being inquired into now.

Mr. Maclay

Is the right hon. Gentleman giving any consideration to the possibilities of a system of voluntary nursing aid, such as is now in operation in the United States and without which many of their hospitals would have had to close during the war?

Mr. Bevan

Some schemes are in operation here at the moment, but I am ready to consider any suggestion to ameliorate the very great difficulties of some local authorities at the present time

Mr. Stokes

In considering a solution of this problem, will my right-hon. Friend consider the possibility of recruiting from the large number of competent displaced persons who are at present in displaced persons' camps on the Continent doing nothing?

Mr. Bevan

A large number of persons from the Continent are coming over now, and are being employed by hospital authorities.