HC Deb 19 June 1974 vol 875 cc456-7
5. Mr. MacArthur

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about staffing in the National Health Service.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Robert Hughes)

While there are difficulties affecting particular groups of staff, in general staffing in the National Health Service in Scotland is reasonably satisfactory.

Mr. MacArthur

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we are very glad that the review is now under way, but that we are concerned by his statement, a day or two ago, that it might not be completed until the autumn? Would it not have been much better, and saved a great deal of needless trouble, if the Government had made use of the relativities machinery, which existed and which could have sorted out this difficult problem a long time ago?

Mr. Hughes

There is no reason to suppose that the relativities procedure would have led to a quicker report. As for details of the review body and what might come out of it, there is a later Question on the Order Paper, and when we come to it we can no doubt review these exchanges.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

In view of the slackening in recruitment of those workers who come under special grades—those in charge of support facilities within the hospital system—will the hon. Gentleman give consideration over the next few months to ascertaining the position of those special grades, whose valuable rôle in the hospital service seems to have been ignored in recent years?

Mr. Hughes

Many grades of staff in the National Health Service were ignored by the previous Government. We shall certainly do all we can to improve the position.

Mr. Monro

Does the Under-Secretary accept that two areas have been causing some concern over recent years? The first is that of physiotherapists. How near is the new school at Dundee nearing readiness to accept recruits? Secondly, when will the hon. Gentleman implement further steps under the Melville Report?

Mr. Hughes

I do not have the information about the Dundee school, but I shall write to the hon. Gentleman. On Friday we shall take the remaining stages of the Bill of the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Gray) relating to the Melville Report. We shall make a statement on the other aspects of the report in due course.

Forward to