HC Deb 16 February 1970 vol 796 cc5-7
8. Mr. Gower

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many hospitals in Wales are not fully operative owing to shortages of nursing staffs; and what steps he is taking to solve these difficulties.

Mrs. White

Almost every hospital could make good use of additional nurses, but there are two, Sully and Morriston where the problem is particularly acute. At Sully, work is to start this year on a creche and improved residential accommodation. At Morriston, where the shortage is of student nurses, the nurse training school is to be amalgamated with that of Singleton Hospital and improvements are to be made to the nurses home.

Mr. Gower

I appreciate the difficulties faced by Ministers in the Welsh Office and by the hospital board. Does the hon. Lady appreciate that this is a far bigger problem than her reply indicates and that most of the resident physician superintendents and matrons to whom I have spoken consider that the problem is likely to get larger during the years ahead? It is not likely to be solved. Will the hon. Gentleman treat it much more urgently?

Mrs. White

Among other things, a very significant addition has been proposed to nurses' pay, which will help with recruitment. The kind of action which I am indicating as being carried out in these two hospitals is a very intelligent way of meeting difficulties which vary greatly from one hospital to another.

Mr. Alec Jones

What effect is the shortage of nurses having on long-term hospitals dealing with mentally sick?

Mrs. White

I cannot give a general answer to that question because the position varies from place to place. If my hon. Friend has a particular hospital in mind, I shall be happy to reply to a question.

9. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the total establishment of all grades of nursing staff in hospitals administered by the Welsh Hospital Board: and by what percentage the present number of nurses falls short of establishment.

Mrs. White

There is no generally accepted basis for determining an establishment for nurses, but the Welsh Hospital Board now employ, in terms of whole-time equivalents, about 13,700 nurses.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

About how much is this under strength? We appreciate the problems that this sphere gives to the country at present.

Mrs. White

If I am not able to give a precise establishment figure, obviously I cannot say by how much we shall fall short of it. This is a complicated matter. It has been referred to by the Public Accounts Committee. If the hon. Gentleman would care to talk to me about it afterwards, I should be happy to see him.