HC Deb 16 February 1959 vol 600 cc27-8
52. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Health whether he will publish the findings of the progress reports he has received from hospital authorities on the introduction of the shorter working week for hospital nursing and midwifery staff.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I do not think these reports are suitable for publication as they stand, but I am considering whether they contain anything which I could usefully pass on to hospital authorities generally to help those who have not already introduced an 88-hour fortnight to make better progress.

Mrs. Castle

Is the Minister aware that the House would be very interested to see the evidence on which he based his statement to me last week that a considerable measure of success has been achieved in reducing the hours of work without additional financial cost? Will not he, therefore, issue in the OFFICIAL REPORT a summary at any rate of the findings of the progress reports so that we may know in what percentage of hospitals the hours have been reduced under present arrangements and for what percentage of the staff?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Lady need not wait for that information. Four reports are still outstanding, but I can give her the broad conclusions which I have already drawn from the analysis of the reports concerned. In the general hospital groups, the 88-hour fortnight has been introduced, in full or substantially, in 69 per cent., partially in 21 per cent., and not at all, or only negligibly, in 10 per cent. The equivalent percentages for the mental hospital groups are 54 per cent., 14 per cent., and 32 per cent., respectively.

Dr. Summerskill

Does not the Minister think that he should draw to the attention of those hospitals that have failed to take action or have taken only partial action, the recommendation that more auxiliary workers should be used? That, in itself, might solve the problem.

Mr. Walker-Smith

There are various ways in which I think I can help, and that, no doubt, is one of them.

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