HC Deb 19 December 1955 vol 547 cc1632-4
29. Mr. Owen

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the wastage of qualified staff at St. George's Hospital, Morpeth, and St. Mary's Hospital at Stanningate; and what steps are being taken to encourage recruitment.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

Yes, Sir, my right hon. Friend understands that there has been some net loss of qualified male nurses during the past year. The hospital management committees are advertising the vacancies, and they are in touch with the Nursing Appointments Officer of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, who is doing everything possible to help them.

Mr. Owen

Is the hon. Lady aware that some of the main deterrents to recruitment for these hospitals arise from the physical conditions there, the limited amenities available to the staff and the general feeling that promotion on the male side is very slow? Would she be good enough to make further inquiries into this matter?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

Certainly, I will look into the points that the hon. Member has raised. I recognise the difficulties of these two hospitals. St. George's is in keen competition with local industries, which also are short of staff, and St. Mary's is in an isolated position, which makes recruitment difficult. I assure the hon. Member, however, that by a cadet scheme and by advertising, we are doing our utmost to increase the staff; while there has been a reduction in the male staff, I am glad to say that there has been a net gain of female nursing staff.

30. Mr. Owen

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the serious overcrowding at St. George's Hospital, Morpeth; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Yes, Sir. Eighty new beds have come into use at this hospital in the last few months and further extensions are planned.

Mr. Owen

Is the Minister aware that St. George's Hospital is a hundred years old, that a ward designed for 48 beds now has 126 beds, that the beds are so close together that it is almost physically impossible to make them; and, further, that on the adjoining farm, as I can assure the Minister from a personal visit, the animals seem to have very much more room than patients in some of the wards of the hospital?

Mr. Macleod

I assure the hon. Member, also from personal experience, that I know the hospital and I know even that ward. We have been doing what we can to give it priority, and there are schemes to the value of more than £300,000 which will very greatly help to relieve the overcrowding there.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the Minister satisfied that there will be sufficient current funds available for running expenses to maintain any developments that may be approved on the capital side?

Mr. Macleod

Of course, we never go ahead with capital expenditure until we are satisfied that we can carry the additional maintenance burden.