HC Deb 28 February 1955 vol 537 cc1709-10
26. Mr. A. Roberts

asked the Minister of Health how far the number of mental nurses, engaged to date, meets the normal requirements of our mental hospitals.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

There is still a shortage which has been estimated at about 10,000.

Mr. Roberts

What steps are proposed to be taken to stimulate recruitment for mental nursing?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

There are several schemes in operation at the moment. First, the increased capital expenditure on the mental treatment side will provide better accommodation, which will help tremendously in recruiting. We hope that good results will be obtained from the publicity plans this year. They include an exhibition which is being run by the Ministry to arouse interest in mental nursing. Several pioneer schemes are also being undertaken under the auspices of the General Nursing Council in connection with joint training schemes.

Mr. Shurmer

Is the hon. Lady aware that if something is not done very quickly we shall have no nurses at all soon in our mental hospitals? We in Birmingham are very short-staffed. Is she aware that nurses are continually leaving and that something must be done soon?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

We share the hon. Member's concern. The figures are going up, although slowly, and we welcome any support for these campaigns to endeavour to persuade people to come forward and join the mental nursing services.