32. Miss Ward
asked the Minister of Health to what professional organisations was the memorandum on supply of nursing staff for mental hospitals and mental deficiency institutions submited before issue.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
The memorandum was based on a study of the recommendations made by the Minister of Labour's National Advisory Council on the Recruitment of Nurses and Midwives and my Standing Mental Advisory Committee and Standing Nursing Advisory Committee. As the views of all the professional organisations concerned are fully represented on these advisory bodies, it was 581 not considered necessary to refer the memorandum to the organisations before issue.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that some anxiety has been caused by the issue of this memorandum, especially because it is felt that it may reduce the standard—or suggest an encouragement of the reduction of the standard—of mental hospitals when, if anything, we need to improve and not reduce it?
§ Mr. Macleod
That was the last thing that was in the minds of the very distinguished members of this Committee, and the last thing, as I am sure the hon. Member knows, that was in my mind.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that on this occasion I am in agreement with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop)? Will he bear in mind that this is a matter of principle, that the principle of consultation is a very wise one, and that in future we hope it will be followed more by his Department?
§ Mr. Macleod
On the issue of consultation, which is a slightly different one, all these bodies—and there are scores of them—are represented, either by nominees or by consultation, on the three bodies to which I have referred. It is surely unnecessary after that to refer a document giving advice to all the professional organisations concerned.
§ 33. Mr. K. Robinson
asked the Minister of Health how many members of the General Nursing Council have had experience of mental nursing or mental hospital administration.
§ Miss Hornsby-Smith
Two members of the Council have had mental nursing experience and four have had experience of mental hospital administration. In addition, five members of the statutory Mental Nurses' Committee of the Council have had mental nursing experience and one has had experience in mental hospital administration.
§ Mr. Robinson
Is the hon. Lady aware that the nursing situation in mental hospitals is deteriorating and may soon be quite critical, and that the General Nursing Council, who could do so much to help in this matter, seem to be unaware of the urgency of the problem? Is 582 the hon. Lady satisfied that this is an adequate representation of the mental health field and, if not, will she ask her right hon. Friend to do something to increase it?
§ Miss Hornsby-Smith
I think that the hon. Gentleman is a little unjust to the G.N.C. They are aware of the gravity of the problem. They are certainly being pressed by my right hon. Friend to find all possible methods to solve it.
§ Mrs. Braddock
Will the hon. Lady consult representatives of the Ministry on the General Nursing Council, because it is becoming the opinion of hospital management committees that the suggested alterations in the regulations for the recruitment of nurses that are being pressed by the General Nursing Council are having a serious effect upon the recruitment of nurses?