HC Deb 21 March 1960 vol 620 cc28-9
43. Mr. Holland

asked the Minister of Health if he will continue the current special allowance paid to nurses engaged in nursing tuberculosis for a period of five years from November, 1960.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Edith Pitt)

Not in the absence of a Whitley agreement to that effect.

Mr. Holland

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but has she seen in last week's issue of the Medical Officer the article which stated that tuberculosis is still the most prevalent and deadly of our serious infectious diseases, of which there are still more than 345,000 cases"? Further, will she agree that it is just as desirable to make this grant in the immediate future as it has been in the past?

Miss Pitt

I have not seen the article to which my hon. Friend refers. In fact, the death rate for tuberculosis has fallen dramatically and notifications are falling regularly, so there is less need for nurses to be occupied full time in the nursing of tuberculous patients, although they do, of course, very often nurse other chest cases. In any event, this is a matter for the Whitley Council, which now has it under consideration.

Mr. Marsh

Will the hon. Lady agree that there is a case for all staff engaged in close contact with tuberculous patients receiving some extra allowance? Is it not the fact that the only reason for the absence of a Whitley agreement on this is the intransigence of the Ministry's representatives?

Miss Pitt

No, I do not agree with either point. In particular, I must comment on the first point which the hon. Gentleman makes because he refers to this allowance as if it were danger money. This is not the case. It was granted during the war when the incidence of tuberculosis was so high that we could not recruit sufficient nurses to deal with it and the extra money was paid to them as an inducement. Happily, that is no longer the case.

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