HC Deb 25 November 1948 vol 458 cc1403-4
43. Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Health how many more doctors are required to enable the service promised under the new National Health scheme to be given satisfactorily; and what special efforts are being made to train doctors to supply this need.

Mr. Bevan

Distribution is as important as total numbers. The Medical Practices Committee are obtaining reports from all areas in England and Wales as at 31st December and will then be able to assess where the main under-doctored areas are. The medical schools are already filled to capacity.

Mr. Bossom

Is it not a fact that there is a shortage in the neighbourhood of 20 per cent. of the doctors required, and in the circumstances, why is the Minister requiring people to pay for services which he is not able to give?

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member is quite incorrect. Until the Medical Practices Committee has reported upon the matter, neither he nor I is in a position to say how far areas are under-doctored.

Mr. Bossom

Will the Minister urge the speeding up of this report, for the medical profession themselves say that approximately 20 per cent. are required?

Mr. Bevan

I have no information at all that the medical profession does say that. It is a fact, however, that the doctors in particular localities are not anxious to say that their areas are under-doctored.

Mrs. Manning

In view of the fact that this is an important and urgent question and that recruitment to the profession is likely to be very much increased in view of the security now afforded to young doctors, can the Minister have any consultations with his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer about widely expanding the medical schools at a very early date?

Mr. Bevan

The medical schools are already filled to capacity and it is not possible to expand these schools beyond the capacity of teachers available to teach in them. It is not only the size of the medical schools, but the medical teaching staffs, which forms the limitation.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Is the Minister, who has spoken of the fullness of medical schools, prepared to carry out the recommendation of the Goodenough Committee to start another medical school?

Mr. Bevan

A large number of the recommendations of the Goodenough Committee are already in operation, but, as I have said, it is no use operating medical schools if we do not have the medical teaching staff for them.

Dr. Morgan

Are not the teaching staffs capable——

Mr. Speaker

Dr. Segal.