§ 46. Mr. Blaker
asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement about the arrangements to exempt resident junior hospital doctors from payment for 77 lodgings; and what consequential adjustment is being made in the cost of meals to them.
§ 58. Mr. Goodhart
asked the Minister of Health whether he will reduce the charges for meals imposed on medical staff in hospitals.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
By agreement with the profession new arrangements for lodging and meal charges for resident hospital doctors were introduced on 1st February. Formerly, all such doctors paid an inclusive board and lodging charge. Now doctors who are required to live in hospital pay nothing for lodging and a moderate charge for the meals they have.
§ Mr. Blaker
Is the Minister aware that there is resentment on the part of junior hospital doctors on the ground that the new arrangements, while purporting to improve their conditions, in fact, because of the increased cost of meals, leave them very little better off than they were? Can he give the House any facts and figures about that?
§ Mr. Robinson
Yes, these arrangements were all agreed with the profession, and I think it is true that the junior doctor who is required to live in would gain less than he would have done if the old residence charges had not been so substantially subsidised. Nevertheless. a doctor who is compulsorily resident who takes all his meals in hospital is not likely to pay more than about £160 a year. This compares favourably with the former charge for board and lodging which ranged, according to grade, from £175 for house officers to £225 for registrars.
§ Mr. Goodhart
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at King's College Hospital, for example, medical staff were charged less than £4 a week for board and lodging, on which they usually claimed tax allowance, but now if they have all their meals in, they will be charged £4?
§ Mr. Robinson
If the hon. Gentleman will put down that question about a specific hospital I shall be very glad to answer it.