HC Deb 01 December 1958 vol 596 cc818-9
14. Mrs. Slater

asked the Minister of Health if, in view of the growing shortage of midwives, he will remedy the position of a State-registered nurse reverting to student nurse's pay when taking midwifery.

Mr. Walker-Smith

This is a matter in the first place for the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council who have it under consideration.

Mrs. Slater

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman really appreciate the urgency of this matter? Is he aware that in Stoke we have only three new applications from State-registered nurses to take the midwifery course and that when canvassed by the doctors the nurses said, "Why should we take the course if we have to revert back to student nurses' pay"? If this continues, will it not create a very serious position? Further, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman if it is true that he takes his advice from the Royal College of Midwives and, if that is so, would it not be wiser for him to take it from the nurses who are about to go in for this new training, or rather refusing to go in for it?

Mr. Walker-Smith

That is a matter for the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council.

Mrs. Slater indicated dissent.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Lady must not shake her head. This is a matter for the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council and, as I explained to the House last week, they are now seized of this matter. It was discussed in the Whitley Council last week, and there is further discussion to come. In regard to Stoke, the hon. Lady will recall that I had the pleasure of making a visit there last January, and I was then made aware of these various local problems.

Dr. Summerskill

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention been drawn to a leading article in the Daily Herald today, page 4, in which it describes conditions of student midwives in certain parts of the country? If he has not seen it, may I draw his attention to it, because I believe that it summarises the reasons why these young nurses are prepared to take the course but not to become practising midwives?

Mr. Walker-Smith

No, I have not seen the article in the Daily Herald—there is so much which appears in it which is not rewarding reading—but as the right hon. Lady asks me to make an exception concerning this article, I will of course do so and read it.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consult his right hon. Friend, who is expected to keep the Government informed on all these matters?