HC Deb 09 May 1960 vol 623 cc10-1
27. Commander Kerans

asked the Minister of Health what is the number of midwives available in the Hartlepools.

Miss Pitt

Thirty-twofull-timeand seven part-time.

Commander Kerans

Can my hon. Friend say whether she has any plans for increasing the number of midwives in the Hartlepools area, in view of the large population there?

Miss Pitt

I would not have thought that was necessary because, on the figures, the Hartlepools are rather well off for midwives. At present, there are no vacancies for domiciliary midwives in the area and the number of hospital midwives is only slightly under the average establishment for the group, namely, twenty-four whole-time, six part-time and four pupil midwives.

31. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that domiciliary midwives are on call 123 hours a week for a weekly salary of £12; and whether he will take immediate action to improve these conditions

Mr. Walker-Smith

Pay and conditions of service of midwives are matters in the first instance for the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council.

Dr. Summerskill

Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not dissent from the appalling figures which I have given? Surely he should make representations to the Whitley Council? Is he aware that a refuse collector is paid £10 6s. per week for a 44-hour week, and that from next Monday his working week will be reduced to 42 hours? I do not grudge the refuse collector that pay, but, in the light of that, can the Minister justify the present payment to this very fine body of women, the domiciliary midwives of the country?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The system of hours is based on the recommendations of the Whitley Council, and, following the Rushcliffe's Committee's recommendations in the first instance, the hours of work are broken up into spells of three weeks of long hours followed by a fourth week of considerably shorter hours than those to which the right hon. Lady has referred. That and the night rota system, which many authorities have introduced, ease the pressure on the domiciliary midwives in their hours of work.