HC Deb 25 May 1960 vol 624 cc415-6
1. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many cases have come to his notice during the past year of National Service air personnel being employed in Air Force hospital wards in providing intimate nursing assistance for female patients and upon bottle-feeding small babies; and what specific steps he is taking to instruct officers commanding hospitals and matrons to avoid such procedure henceforward.

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. W. J. Taylor)

There are strict standing instructions about assistance by male attendants to women patients in R.A.F. hospitals. I know only of the one minor breach which my hon. and gallant Friend has himself brought to my notice.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Will not my hon. Friend agree, from the case I have taken up with him, that whilst it is appreciated that National Service men may be asked to carry out all sorts of duties, it really is taking things a bit far to get them to carry bedpans for female patients, attend the needs of girl toddlers, and feed a baby with a bottle? Surely the next duty they may be asked to carry out may well be to read bedtime stories to all these toddlers, for instance, all about Peter Rabbit and the Flopsie Bunnies, Tabitha Twitchet, Jemima Puddleduck and even Squirrel Nutkin.

Mr. Taylor

As my hon. and gallant Friend has said, we use some National Service men because at present we have not enough Regulars. Male attendants are never employed in the maternity or gynaecological departments. Since we are short of female attendants, we cannot debar male attendants from all work in wards for females. They are, however, on duty only during the day and always in conjunction with the female staff. They must not undertake any intimate personal attendance. These matters are covered by specific Air Ministry instructions of which hospitals have just been reminded.