HC Deb 25 February 1986 vol 92 cc794-5
2. Mr. Greenway

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any plans to differentiate between the rates of pay of state registered nurses and state registered midwives; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister for Health (Mr. Barney Hayhoe)

The pay of National Health Service nursng and midwifery staff is determined following the recommendations of an independent review body.

Mr. Greenway

Is my right hon. Friend aware that state registered nurses have to undertake an 18-month course on staff nurse pay to become qualified midwives? Is he further aware that, as they get no extra pay for qualifying as midwives, fewer nurses are undertaking the course? With the birth rate rising, and expected to rise more steeply in the 1990s, where will we find the midwives to deliver those babies? Will we have to adopt natural childbirth?

Mr. Hayhoe

As I said, midwives' pay is being considered by the independent review body, and it would not be right for me to comment upon that. In connection with more general questions, I can tell my hon. Friend that a joint review between the management and staff sides of the Nursing and Midwifery Staff Negotiating Council is under way, and it is examining nursing and clinical grading structures. That will, of course, include midwives.

Mr. Kirkwood

Will the Minister give us an assurance that in future he will fully fund National Health Service pay settlements, especially those relating to care workers? Is he aware that it causes great anxiety and consternation to nurses and midwives when they are told that their pay rise will be taken out of the money available for the care of patients under their charge?

Mr. Hayhoe

No, Sir. The funding of the National Health Service is clearly understood by the House. The funds available for the next financial year are set out in the Government's White Paper.

Mr. Marlow

How does the pay of nurses and that of the professions allied to medicine compare with the pay of school teachers? Has my right hon. Friend received any indication from those professions that if the teachers should have a much enhanced salary review the nurses and professions allied to medicine would not wish the same?

Mr. Hayhoe

If my hon. Friend puts down a question, I should be glad to give him that information.

Mr. O'Brien

Is the Minister aware that people in the profession, including nurses, midwives and health visitors, are becoming disillusioned because they do not have a realistic pay structure and an adequate career structure? Will he give some assurances that nurses, midwives and health visitors will receive proper remuneration, worthy of their value to society?

Mr. Hayhoe

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that that is the position now, what must he have thought at the end of the last Labour Government, because since then nurses' pay has been increased by over 30 per cent. in real terms?

Mr. Holt

Does my right hon. Friend consider that one of the reasons why fewer nurses are going into midwifery may be that they have to provide their own cars and are taxed on their petrol thereafter?

Mr. Hayhoe

I was unaware of that detail, but I shall study my hon. Friend's point.

Mr. Donald Stewart

The Minister talked of "real" terms, but is he aware that on television when the Prime Minister wants to draw attention to high income tax rates she always picks the nurses as an example of people who are especially low paid and heavily taxed? It is plain, therefore, that she regards them as one of the underprivileged sections of the community. What will the Government do about that?

Mr. Hayhoe

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister makes a fair point when she refers to the amount of a nurse's pay that is taken in direct taxation. The Government hope to be able to reduce the levels of direct taxation.

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