§ 19. Mr. K. Robinson
asked the Minister of Health what advice he has given to hospital authorities regarding the recruitment of nursing staff, following his meeting with representatives of the Royal College of Nursing; and whether additional Exchequer funds will be made available for this purpose.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. J. Enoch Powell)
I have draw their attention to my letter to the Royal College after the meeting. I am sending the hon. Member a copy. Additional expenditure is not involved.
§ Mr. Robinson
Perhaps I may save time and trouble by saying that I have a copy of that letter. Is the Minister aware that all the pious hopes he expressed in the letter are completely nullified by the sentence at the beginning, which says that hospital management committees must keep within their budgets? Is he aware that nurses training schools are cutting down their intakes in some cases by 50 per cent. and some are stopping recruiting altogether because money is not available? Is he aware that this cannot be put right unless some additional funds are made available in the current year?
§ Mr. Powell
On the contrary, the allocations in the present year allow for substantial development and expansion 552 of staff—which has indeed taken place on a considerable scale. Following my letter, I believe that better attention can be paid during the remainder of the year to priorities, including the recruitment priorities indicated in my letter.
§ Mrs. Braddock
In view of the fact that the estimates for the next year are being prepared by regional hospital committees and boards of governors, will the right hon. Gentleman make certain when he receives those estimates that regional boards have taken account of the staffing facilities that the management committees have said are necessary? Is he aware that regional hospital boards are refusing to take note of the establishment figures given to them by management committees and are sending to him estimates for next year based on what they consider are the figures, and not on the figures supplied by those who work in hospitals and have responsibility to the management committees?
§ Mr. Powell
One of the important responsibilities which rests on regional hospital boards is the decision, in the light of circumstances in individual hospital groups, whether they should make and ask for allocations for increases of staff, among other purposes.