§ 25. Mr. Stratton Mills
asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will initiate consultations to create a 1328 Commonwealth Medical Service for use in the developing countries of the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Oram
The medical vacancies which I am asked to fill for Commonwealth countries are almost entirely for short-term appointments. These are best filled on contract or by secondment from permanent employment here. To create a Commonwealth Medical Service would suggest the possibility of a full and continuous career overseas, which Her Majesty's Government could not guarantee.
§ Mr. Stratton Mills
Will the hon. Gentleman arrange to prepare a paper on this for discussion at the Commonwealth Medical Conference to be held in Edinburgh in, I think, September of this year? Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the great attraction of this scheme, namely, that in order to supplement short-term service arrangements the richer countries of the Commonwealth should combine to create a career structure for doctors prepared to serve overseas on a long-term basis?
§ Mr. Oram
This question has been carefully considered, both by ourselves and the preceding Government. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the forthcoming Commonwealth Conference may well provide a suitable quorum for this exploration, but I would not like it to be thought that we have any hope or real wish to create the kind of service which the hon. Gentleman suggests in his Question.
§ Sir G. Nicholson
May not there be some scope for some long-term service in respect of certain diseases? I am thinking particularly of leprosy. Is not there a need to co-ordinate efforts throughout the Commonwealth for the conquest of leprosy, which is a most terrible scourge but which can be dealt with, and in most cases cured, certainly if taken early? In many Commonwealth countries the elimination of leprosy tends to be neglected.
§ Mr. Tilney
Will the hon. Gentleman again look into the possibility of a proleptic appointment so that registrars or consultants can be appointed a year ahead and therefore serve on, possibly overseas in the Commonwealth, while waiting for their permanent appointments?