HC Deb 16 December 1948 vol 459 cc1361-2
13. Mr. William Shepherd

asked the Minister of Health what percentage of beds is vacant in tuberculosis sanatoria through lack of nurses.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)

Eighteen per cent.

Mr. Shepherd

Will the Minister say, in view of the urgent need for these facilities, what additional steps he is taking to try to get the necessary staff to man these beds?

Mr. Bevan

Higher salaries and service allowances are now paid for nurses in these institutions, and we shall have to wait a little time to see whether these will have the proper effect. We are hoping they will.

14. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Minister of Health what is the average waiting time for entry to sanatoria by those suffering from tuberculosis.

Mr. Bevan

This information is not available; and waiting time varies so widely according to individual circumstances that an average, as such, has no value.

Mr. Shepherd

Would not the Minister admit that, in many cases, the waiting time is as long as 10 months, and in view of the distressing results that might accrue from it, will he say whether he is prepared to institute medical priority?

Mr. Bevan

I think the hon. Member will find that, as a general rule, medical priorities are in operation. I would also like to call his attention to the fact that had those changes in nurses' salaries and allowances taken place much earlier, we might have had many more nurses.

Mr. Donner

Could the right hon. Gentleman approach the Chancellor of the Exchequer to obtain foreign exchange for those who want to go to Switzerland to be cured, who are on the waiting list now, and who cannot be cured in this country?

Mr. Bevan

No, I am certainly prepared to do so.

Hon. Members

Why not?

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

As this question is apparently concerned with the shortage of nurses, can the Minister tell us whether any steps are being taken to get foreign nurses over here in order to relieve these difficulties?

Mr. Bevan

Certainly, foreign nurses are in employment in this country, and large numbers of domestic staff from other countries are in employment in our hospitals and sanatoria in order to relieve British nurses.

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