HC Deb 02 February 1971 vol 810 cc1452-3
20. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will take steps to encourage and enable local authorities to alleviate the shortage of district nurses and home helps.

Mr. Alison

My right hon. Friend proposes to bring into operation on 1st April Section 13 of the Health Services and Public Health Act, 1968, which makes the provision of home helps by local authorities a duty. I know that local authorities fully recognise the need for expansion. So far as home nurses are concerned, while there may be difficulties in particular areas I am not aware of any general shortage.

Mr. Greville Janner

I welcome the first part of that answer, but does not the hon. Gentleman feel that the second part is unsatisfactory, in view of the fact that a comparatively small expenditure on home nursing can provide a considerable saving in hospital expenses and, in addition, of course, provide comforts for old people, who much prefer to be in their own homes rather than in hospital?

Mr. Alison

I note what the hon. Gentleman says. He will recall that my right hon. Friend had made substantial extra allocations for health authorities for precisely this sort of provision, where it is needed, in the current financial year.

Mr. Alfred Morris

I warmly welcome the Minister's announcement. Is he aware that there are many people who need not be hospitalised if we tackle this problem as keenly as we could? Will he draw attention of local authorities to their new legislative powers in this field?

Mr. Alison

Yes, Sir.