HC Deb 27 January 1969 vol 776 cc908-9
9. Mr. Dean

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has to assist hospitals fill medical and nursing staff posts which are vacant owing to lack of money to pay salaries.

Mr. Ennals

It is for hospital authorities to decide priorities for expenditure within the resources available to them.

Mr. Dean

Does the Minister recall that when this Question was last asked on 2nd December the House was told that the Secretary of State was giving this problem his urgent attention? Does he agree that vacancies are still not being filled for nurses and doctors, because there is not sufficient money to pay their salaries?

Mr. Ennals

I am afraid that we do not keep a special record of vacancies which may be due to lack of finance within a particular hospital authority, or which may be due to the non-availability of nurses or medical staff. But there are some such cases and, as I said in my original reply, this is, of course, the responsibility of the hospital authorities, but we are doing a good deal to help in this respect. After all, there was an increase in pay for nurses in January this year and we are also doing as much as we can to relieve nurses of some of their responsibilities, which would enable them to make fuller use of their time.

Mr. Pavitt

Will my hon. Friend confirm that, in hospital budgeting, this sector is the most crucial of all the financing that we do? Second, would he call for a further review of the establishment of hospitals, since many of these vacancies appear because many of the establishments are not realistic?

Mr. Ennals

I will look into the last part of that question. On the first part, my hon. Friend is absolutely right.