28. Mrs. Butler
asked the Minister of Health what is his estimate of the respective cost to mothers of hospital confinement and confinement at home.
Since mothers are being increasingly compelled to have their babies at home because of shortage of maternity beds, and since this involves additional cost, such as domestic help and inflated household costs for the period, does the Parliamentary Secretary really think that the £6 home confinement grant is adequate in the circumstances? Will he have discussions with the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance about an increase in the amount?
§ Mr. Braine
There are no medical costs, because the medical attention is free. There are no nursing costs, because those are met by the domiciliary service of the local authority. The non-medical costs will vary not only according to whether the woman is confined at home or in hospital, but according to her family and economic circumstances. The adequacy of the National Insurance maternity benefit is not a matter for my right hon. Friend but for the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance.
But is it not possible for the Minister to consider this question from a medical angle, because the cost of having a baby at home must affect the mother's medical condition? Does not the hon. Gentleman think that his Ministry should discuss the medical angle with the Ministry of Pensions to see whether some better arrangement can be made?
§ Mr. Braine
I will take note of what the hon. Lady says, but I do not think that we can pursue this matter any further today. Medical costs, of course, are already met. The Cranbrook Committee itself found great difficulty in estimating comparable costs, either to public funds or to the mothers, of hospital and home confinements.