HC Deb 05 February 1962 vol 653 cc28-9
38. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health whether he will take steps to ascertain the number of British doctors who are yearly emigrating; and what are the reasons for their thus not being available for recruitment to the National Health Service.

Mr. Powell

I have no practicable means of obtaining this information.

Dr. Johnson

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that this is the 64,000-dollar question as regards the future of the Health Service? Is he not aware that it is useless to talk of increasing the number of medical students by 10 per cent. or even more if they fall through the sieve in this way? Will he not see whether there is an accurate method of assessing this movement of doctors, even if it means going to considerable trouble to do so?

Mr. Powell

This is obviously an important question, but in the sector where there is information—that is, the difference between net intake and net export by sea—the net export in 1960 was only 190, and, of course, these figures include Commonwealth doctors returning.

Mr. Wilkins

Can the Minister of Health give any information about how many doctors in our hospitals have been immigrants from the Colonies and Dominions? Has he any fear that Questions of this kind on the Order Paper foreshadow possible legislation to control emigration?

Mr. Powell

No, this is a perfectly legitimate Question, and I do not think that it foreshadows anything of the sort. If the hon. Member wants statistics on doctors in the hospitals, I will be glad to give them to him if he will put down a Question.

Mr. P. Williams

Does not my right hon. Friend's Answer show conclusively that the Government are not able to get the figures they need? Does not this sustain the argument of the Migration Council that there should be a more adequate check on people leaving the country so that these figures could be available?

Mr. Powell

If so, that is not a question for me.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that long before the Health Service we sent doctors all over the world and that a large part of Scotland's medical products formed the Indian medical health service? It would be tragic if British doctors were to be prohibited in any way from making their contribution to the rest of the world.

Mr. Powell

I do not think it is suggested in any quarter that British doctors should not go overseas. The Question relates to the balance between intake and output, and I have suggested that the balance is not as adverse as has recently been suggested.

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