HC Deb 07 July 1960 vol 626 cc668-9
8. Dr. Stross

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the need for the expansion of the Colonial Medical Service, and the need for more men and women trained in medicine to serve in these territories; and whether he will take steps to integrate the Colonial Medical Service with the National Health Service.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I am aware of the need for a steady increase in the numbers of doctors available for service in the dependent territories, and my Department has had a fair measure of success in recruiting doctors to meet requests made by Governments. The large territories in East Africa are increasingly using local doctors qualified at the Medical School of Makerere. Arrangements are already in force for doctors in the National Health Service to serve overseas while preserving their pension rights here, and in cases where the home employers are able to keep a post open while a doctor is serving abroad, secondment is arranged.

Dr. Stross

Does not the Colonial Secretary agree, with reference to the last part of his answer, that he has there touched upon the difficulty, and does he not realise that I have asked for integration because it would make it easier for personnel to go out and do a term of service without losing their chances of promotion at home? In view of the experience that he had as Minister of Health, will not he look at the matter again and see what more can be done?

Mr. Macleod

We are looking into the matter. I do not believe that integration in that sense is possible or practicable, because there are so many employers of doctors here and so many employers of doctors abroad. However, we are in consultation with the British Medical Association and will continue those consultations to ascertain what arrangements we can make on the lines of the comment in my main answer to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. B. Harrison

Will my right hon. Friend make certain that there is an adequate number of non-medical people in the administrative services so that he does not have a farcical situation, such as happened at the hospital in Aden, where the doctors were doing the whole of the administrative work and wasting their special skill?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, that is certainly important. With regard to doctors, there are 50-odd vacancies, and a number of these, which are for specialist posts, are rather difficult to fill.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at recent schemes for encouraging teachers to go to the Commonwealth, while preserving their promotion rights and other rights here, and consider whether it would not be possible to have a similar scheme to encourage doctors to do a term of service in countries which need them?

Mr. Macleod

We are looking into all these matters. They figured prominently, as the hon. Member will have seen, in the Conservative Party manifesto at the last General Election.

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