HC Deb 08 March 1955 vol 538 cc150-1
60. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health for Scotland has officially assessed the minimum requirement of health visitors at one for every 2,500 of the population; and in how many, and which Scottish areas, the number of health visitors falls short of that minimum, and by how much.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)

No, Sir. This assessment related to the theoretical requirements for all services operated from a comprehensive health centre. Few areas are staffed on that scale, the average population per health visitor in Scotland being just over 4,000.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Secretary of State realise that it is essential to increase the number of health visitors in Scotland for the purpose, amongst others, of relieving pressure on the hospitals? What steps is he taking in that direction?

Mr. Stuart

The number of health visitors has risen from 1,000 in 1946 to 1,225 in 1954. The necessity for them, or their importance, varies in different areas, and I do not think we get a proper picture if we take an average figure.

61. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that health visitors are required to possess two more obligatory qualifications than hospital sisters but receive less remuneration than hospital sisters; and what steps he is taking to improve the salaries, pensions, and conditions of service, of health visitors.

Mr. J. Stuart

Yes, Sir, but the salaries and conditions of service of health visitors are determined by the Nurses and Mid-wives Whitley Council. Health visitors' salaries are being considered by the Council in the light of a recent award of the Industrial Court for increased salaries for hospital nurses.

Mr. Hughes

Are the people concerned likely to know what the result of that consideration will be?

Mr. Stuart

I am afraid that I cannot give an exact, precise date or answer. The matter is being investigated. The Minister of Health replied to the hon. and learned Member on 21st February on this subject. I should like to quote another reply of a man perhaps greater than myself. He said, "There will be an interval of time but there will be no delay."

Mr. Steele

In view of the return to the House of the right hon. Gentleman—whom we are all very pleased to see again—could he give us the name of his health visitor?

Mr. Stuart

It depends whether I am in Scotland or in London. For some part of the time I was in my constituency, in spite of some Press reports which said I was not in Scotland or in London.

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