HC Deb 24 February 1964 vol 690 cc7-10
10. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Minister of Health who is to be responsible for the salary of Mr. George Wilkinson, who is employed as chief technician on cancer research at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead; on what date a decision on this matter was reached; and to whom this decision was communicated.

Mr. Braine

I should have thought that it would have been better, if the hon. Gentleman had a specific case in mind in this field, where there is a great deal of anxiety on the part of parents, if he had brought it to my attention. I am always willing, as the House knows, to look into each individual case. All I am saying is that in our present state of knowledge it is impossible to say precisely what the need is, but we are going as rapidly as we can and as resources permit in the direction of making additional provision.

The information is as follows:

37. Mr. Randall

asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement on the negotiations to transfer Mr. George Wilkinson, of the Special Gynaecological Research Unit, Gateshead, to employment in the National Health Service; what considerations were involved concerning his grading; when the final decision was made regarding the amount of salary and whether he would suffer a reduction; what official information was given concerning the date he would cease to be employed by the Cancer Campaign Organisation; and if it was intended that there should be no break in his service on transfer.

Mr. Braine

Authority to employ Mr. Wilkinson at the same salary as that paid to him by the British Empire Cancer Campaign was given to the hospital management committee on 12th November, 1963. The Committee were, however, not informed until 6th February that his previous employment had ceased on 31st December; on 7th February he was offered a post in the National Health Service with effect from 1st January. No break in service is intended.

Mr. Montgomery

Is my hon. Friend aware that I have photostat copies of correspondence which proves conclusively that the secretary of the board did not, prior to the date which he is now claiming, know that this man's salary from the Cancer Campaign ceased on 31st December? Would he not agree that there has been a lack of communication in the hospital board which could easily have jeopardised the whole of this very valuable service?

Mr. Braine

The Department gave its authority on 12th November to pay Mr. Wilkinson's salary from hospital funds. I agree with my hon. Friend that there appears subsequently to have been quite a lack of communication. But I am very glad to say that Mr. Wilkinson has been offered a post, which he has accepted, subject to a reservation as to the future. There will, of course, be no break at all in his service.

Mr. Randall

Has the attention of the hon. Gentleman been drawn to statements in the Press which have been made by Mr. Stanley Way, who is a consultant at Gateshead and head of the cancer research unit, which in the view of many people, certainly in Gateshead, are misleading and quite untrue? Would he not agree that there has been no mismanagement on the part of the local hospital management committee? It did not, in fact, as he stated, receive notice that Mr. Wilkinson had finished with the cancer research unit until 7th February. Therefore, the statements made by Mr. Stanley Way are quite untrue. Will the hon. Gentleman consider the wisdom or otherwise of consultants in the National Health Service making public statements in the Press rather than going to the local machinery and dealing with the matter there? Is it a wise thing for consultants to do?

Mr. Braine

I think it is true that, until Mr. Way wrote on 6th February, the group secretary had not been informed that the salary from the British Empire Cancer Campaign had ceased on 31st December. I think it is also true that there has been a general misunderstanding all round. I suggest that, as this gentleman has now accepted a post and there has been no break in the continuity of his service, and as there are lessons to be learnt all round, we should leave the matter there.