HC Deb 18 July 1973 vol 860 cc462-4
4. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many consultants, general practitioners, nurses, trade unionists and members of local authorities have been appointed to Lanarkshire Health Board.

Mr. Monro

The 14 members so far appointed to the board include two consultants, one general practitioner, five members of local authorities and two trade unionists, one of whom is also a member of a local authority. No nurses have been appointed to membership, nurses in the employment of a health board not being eligible for membership.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction in Lanarkshire because four of the people appointed are out with the Lanarkshire area? Is he further aware that, understandably, the nursing profession is up in arms because it is not represented on these boards? Does the Minister appreciate that there is disquiet in Lanarkshire at the appointment of the chairman, who, so far as we can ascertain, has no experience of hospital boards?

Mr. Monro

All those who have been appointed to the health board either live in or are involved in Lanarkshire in business or in one way or another. Secondly, on the question of nurses, on which there is a later Question on the Order Paper, there is a single structure of line management under the new area health board system, up to chief nursing officer. It would be inappropriate for nurses serving under her to be members of the area board. As my right hon. Friend has said, members of boards are appointed for their skill and knowledge of what they can add to the health board in general, and the Chairman of the Lanarkshire Health Board is a particularly experienced person.

Mr. Brewis

Since teachers can be co-opted to serve on education committees, would it not be possible to deal with the nursing profession in the same way in regard to health boards?

Mr. Monro

There will be a nursing advisory committee on every area health board, so that there is no question of the nursing profession's views not being heard and considered by the boards.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Is the Minister saying that, because general practitioners and consultants are on the boards, there will not be consultative machinery to give other advice?

Mr. Monro

There is consultative machinery, as the hon. Gentleman knows. He also knows that there is a different contractual set-up for consultants and general practitioners, compared with nurses.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is my hon. Friend aware that participation is one of the great new cries at present, and does he not agree that there is much to commend the suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis)?

Mr. Monro

As I have explained, nurses will have a particular say through their own advisory committee. This will be an important means by which they can put forward anything which they feel will be of help to the area health boards.

Mr. John Smith

Since it appears that nurses are being treated unfairly vis-à-vis doctors, if the line management business is causing trouble why cannot the Minister change it and stop the disaffection among the nursing profession before these boards have even got off the ground?

Mr. Monro

If the whole system of line management were to be changed, it would be a major operation, involving the future of area health boards. I am not prepared to contemplate such a change at this moment. Nurses are eligible to be appointed to area health boards if they are not employed by the National Health Service.