HC Deb 07 December 1944 vol 406 cc771-2W
Wing-Commander James

asked the Minister of Labour if he will specify the steps that he has taken and those that he intends to take to meet the acute shortage of domestic staffs in hospitals and sanatoria.

Mr. Bevin

I am glad to have this opportunity of informing the House of the more important of the many steps I have taken to assist hospitals to obtain domestic staff. No women domestic workers have been withdrawn from hospitals, and throughout the war hospital domestic work has been regarded as work of national importance carrying the appropriate priority. Following the report in November, 1943, of the Hetherington Committee which I set up for the purpose of recommending wages and conditions for women domestic workers in hospitals, a special priority was accorded to domestic needs of hospitals, and I instituted a widespread publicity campaign, with special local campaigns in areas of particular difficulty, to bring the domestic staffing needs of hospitals prominently before the general public. I also made available the help of my Welfare Officers to assist hospitals in overcoming any difficulties hindering the recruitment or retention of domestic staff.

Between the granting of the special priority and the 8th November, 1944, 38,000 women and 3,000 men have been placed as domestic workers in hospitals, sanatoria, mental institutions and nursing homes. Wastage has, however, continued to be heavy with the result that despite this large number of placings, the number of domestic workers employed in hospitals during the same period January to September, 1944, increased by less than 5,000. The special priority for hospital domestic work is being continued and my Department will continue to make every effort to fill outstanding vacancies.