§ 28. Mr. Ronald Bell
asked the Minister of Health what is the deficiency of basic grade pharmacists in the hospital service in the North-West Metropolitan Region; and what action he is taking to recruit more pharmacists.
§ 55. Mr. Goodhart
asked the Minister of Health what action he will take to increase the number of pharmacists employed in the national hospital service.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
There is a shortage a number of areas including the North-West Metropolitan Region. To improve recruitment the salaries of hospital pharmacists were substantially increased earlier this year and ways of improving the career structure are being studied urgently.
§ Mr. Bell
Can the right hon. Gentleman give me the figure for the North-West Metropolitan Region, which is what I asked for? Can he say whether it is of the order of 80 per cent., because, if it is, that is a very serious deficiency indeed which seems to indicate further action beyond that taken earlier this year?
§ Mr. Robinson
There are no fixed standards by reference to which they can be precisely measured. I agree it is serious in the North-West Metropolitan Region but at the last staffing inquiry over the whole country a shortfall of those in post on estimated requirements was 22 per cent. in terms of whole-time equivalents. The last staffing report showed an increase in staff in post—a small increase—from 1,405 to 1,444 in the year ended 30th September, 1966.
§ Mr. Goodhart
Does the Minister appreciate that during last year the number of pharmacists, who are basic to the hospital services throughout the country, has fallen by almost 50 per cent.? Will he press on with a new career structure as a matter of urgency?
§ Mr. Robinson
We are taking whatever steps we can and I think we ought to see how the recruitment position goes following the recent considerable increase in salaries.