HC Deb 18 October 1950 vol 478 cc2029-30
20. Mr. John Arbuthnot

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the establishment of qualified medical officers in the Colonial Service; to what extent the number of doctors falls short of establishment; and what steps he is taking to recruit suitable qualified doctors to make good the discrepancy.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The establishments number about 1,880: the vacancies which I have been asked to fill are at present about 190. Among the measures which have been or are being taken to make good the deficiency are advertisement in the medical Press; personal visits to medical schools; improvement of salaries where this is thought to be necessary and where it is financially possible; the introduction of special terms for doctors with higher qualifications- and arrangements for enabling doctors to transfer from the National Health Service with preservation of pension rights. Large numbers of colonial people are studying medicine in this country and elsewhere, and these are encouraged to return to serve their own people after qualification.

Air Commodore Harvey

When the right hon. Gentleman was in Singapore and Malaya was his attention drawn to the severe shortage of medical officers there, and is he giving priority to these much needed appointments?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, indeed. This is a shortage which confronts us in all the colonial territories, and we are doing our very best to catch up with it.

Mr. Niall Macpherson

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether pension rights are guaranteed by His Majesty's Government, and whether the widows' and orphans' fund is similarly guaranteed; and is he aware of the great necessity to do so if he is to get European recruits for the medical service in the Colonies?

Mr. Griffiths

Arrangements have been made to enable doctors to transfer from the National Health Service and to preserve their pension rights.

Mr. T. Reid

Can my right hon. Friend say what proportion of the medical students who come from the Colonies here go back and serve their own countries and what proportion preferred to remain in this country?

Mr. Griffiths

I cannot answer that question without notice.

Sir R. Glyn

In view of the importance of this matter, will the right hon. Gentleman consider either issuing a White Paper, so that it will be more generally known, or publishing the reply to this Question which he is sending to my hon. Friend?

Mr. Griffiths

I will consider that.