HC Deb 29 October 1956 vol 558 cc1063-4
42 and 43. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health (1) if he is aware that in many hospitals the new scale in emolument charges will result in a substantial reduction in the net salaries of resident doctors; and if he will give instructions that these charges shall not be implemented in retrospect or until the negotiations in regard to the standard of accommodation, which are now in progress, have been completed ;

(2) if he is aware that there is still a shortage of junior hospital medical staff; and if he will take action to ameliorate this situation by abolishing emolument charges for those who are compelled to reside in the hospital in which they are employed, by improving the standard of accommodation for doctors and by providing married quarters.

Mr. Turton

While the charges payable by house officers, who are the most numerous class of resident doctors, are not altered, I am aware that for many doctors in the more senior grades the new charges are higher than those previously paid. They took effect on 1st August in accordance with a Whitley agreement, and I see no justification for suspending the operation of that agreement, much less for abolishing charges altogether. In reply to my hon. Friend's other points, I am sending him a copy of a circular on residential accommodation which was issued to hospital authorities in December, 1954.

Mr. Johnson

Is the Minister aware that resident doctors have to sign a contract which does not state the amount of the emoluments charged and that they have no redress if the emoluments are increased? Furthermore, is he aware that resident doctors have to pay Income Tax on their gross salaries before the charge is deducted? My second question is whether the Minister is aware that the standard of accommodation in some hospitals is still extremely poor? Is it not wrong that doctors, who may be called upon in the middle of the night to perform a difficult operation, should have a bedroom only and no sitting room at their disposal even after six or seven years' service?

Mr. Turton

The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's question is that these charges were agreed by the Whitley Committee and the matter must be left there. With regard to the second part, I am sure that the hospital authorities are as anxious as I am to see that the accommodation provided for resident staff should be as satisfactory as possible. That is the reason for the circular which was put out by my predecessor.

Mrs. Jeger

Is the Minister able to give any special consideration to the case of married doctors who are required to be resident by virtue of their jobs and have to maintain a home for their wives and families away from the hospital? They are particularly hard-hit by the increased accommodation charges.

Mr. Turton

All these factors were taken into account by the Whitley Committee.