HC Deb 25 March 1963 vol 674 cc926-7
11. Sir L. Plummer

asked the Minister of Health what is the present establishment figure for nursing staff in hospitals managed by the Greenwich and Deptford Hospital Management Committee; and to what extent the present nursing staff falls short of that establishment.

Mr. Braine

There is no recognised establishment for nursing staff.

Sir L. Plummer

Is it not about time there was one? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in one of the Deptford and Greenwich hospitals recently a ward has had to be closed because of the shortage of nurses? This shortage is caused by the regional hospital board giving instructions that recruiting should stop. Will not the hon. Gentleman have a word with his right hon. Friend and demand now that the hospital management committees and the regional board should establish staff requirements and that they should be fully and adequately maintained?

Mr. Braine

As to establishments generally, I think there is some sort of misunderstanding about this. Existing establishments are not based on universally applied criteria. Recruitment hitherto has been on the basis of what the hospitals could get rather than on what they require. This is reasonable so long as there is a shortage of nurses, but the steady improvement in recruitment means that the boards must exercise some control over the rate of recruitment and the deployment of staff.

As to the latter part of the supplementary question, the board has always been ready to consider with hospital management committees any problems arising from the fixing of establishments. They have already agreed to a number of concessions in the case of the hospital in question, and I will give the hon. Gentleman details if he would like them.

Mr. K. Robinson

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the time has now come when he and his right hon. Friend might offer some general guidance to hospital authorities about appropriate establishments for different types of hospitals? I am aware that there are difficulties in this, but is not anything better than leaving the fixing of establishments to the individual hospital, and then not to have them recognised either by the regional board or by the Minister of Health?

Mr. Braine

Yes, this matter is very much under consideration at the moment.