HC Deb 12 February 1962 vol 653 cc912-3
30. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Minister of Health what is the present shortage of nurses in hospitals; and what plans he has to recruit sufficient nurses to meet the requirements of his new hospital plan.

Mr. Powell

No precise estimate of shortage can be given; but I understand that just under 20,000 vacancies for hospital nurses of all grades were current at Ministry of Labour offices in England and Wales at 31st December, last. The Hospital Plan will not increase the nursing staff required.

Mr. K. Robinson

Can the Minister say to what extent the educational requirement for entry into the nursing profession is affecting, or will affect, recruitment? Can he also say whether the number of pupil-enrolled nurses coming along is anywhere up to expectations?

Mr. Powell

As the hon. Member knows, the question of the educational qualification is not a matter for me. Recruitment figures in respect of students of all types show an upward trend.

Mr. Wilkins

Will the Minister confirm or deny the suggestion made very recently to me in a letter that it is possible for the domestic staff, the unskilled staff if I may put it in that way, in hospitals to earn far more than the professional nursing staff? If this is a fact, would it not be one of the major causes of the lack of recruitment of professional staff in nursing?

Mr. Powell

It is not possible to institute a comparison merely by looking at weekly pay between one grade and another. As I have said, the strength of the whole nursing force is at its highest ever at the moment and the figures for student intake are on the uptrend.