HC Deb 09 May 1966 vol 728 cc25-6
33. Dr. David Owen

asked the Minister of Health if he will appoint an independent inquiry into the hours and working conditions of junior hospital doctors, in view of the unsatisfactory situation arising from the responsibility in this field of the Medical and Hospital Dental Whitley Council.

Mr. K. Robinson

No, Sir.

I am aware that the living and working conditions, including accommodation, of junior hospital doctors are in some instances unsatisfactory but hospital boards are, within the resources available, trying to remedy the position. Hours of duty are the responsibility, in the first instance, of the employing authority.

Dr. Owen

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a very serious and deteriorating situation? Is he aware that the spate of emotive newspaper articles is not helping confidence? Would he look into this situation and provide some constructive proposals in order to alleviate it?

Mr. Robinson

I agree very much with my hon. Friend about the newspaper articles, particularly in view of the number of inaccuracies in one which I have particularly in mind. The long hours of duty and the exacting work undertaken by junior doctors has been recognised in the substantially increased salaries for these grades which the Prime Minister announced last Wednesday.

Mr. van Straubenzee

Will the right hon. Gentleman also recall the valuable unofficial evidence which representatives of those doctors provided in the recent inquiry and which might well be followed up in pursuing the very pertinent point raised by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen)?

Mr. Robinson

My Department and the profession have established a joint working party on the organisation of medical work in hospitals and this working party may well consider some aspects of this question.