HC Deb 26 November 1968 vol 774 cc293-4
Ql. Dr. John Dunwoody

asked the Prime Minister if he will transfer responsibility for industrial and occupational health from the Department of Employment and Productivity to the Department of Social Services.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I am not at present convinced that this would be the right decision.

Dr. Dunwoody

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that today we are losing more than 20 million working days a year through industrial diseases and accidents which are largely preventable and that this is a serious burden on our economy? Would it not be easier to solve this problem if there were one Department responsible for all health affairs?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend's statement of the facts. These arguments are very finely balanced. He will recognise that the change for which he is asking appeals to many in industry, including the T.U.C., but that it is important that factory doctors should also be closely identified with the work of the Factory Inspectorate in all aspects of industrial welfare, industrial health and industrial safety.

Dr. Winstanley

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, in view of the shortage of manpower and woman-power in the Health Service generally, we cannot afford not to make the most economic use of existing manpower, that divisions of this kind result in duplication, and that bringing them all under the same umbrella would be an immense benefit to all?

The Prime Minister

It is precisely because of the shortage of medical manpower that the idea of developing what might become a separate occupation in the Health Service is impracticable at this time. From his professional and other contacts, the hon. Gentleman will know of the new proposals for the "A" Doctor system which I think will be of great value to occupational health in industry.

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