HC Deb 12 October 1945 vol 414 cc557-8W
Sir E. Graham-Little

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty when Naval medical officers may expect definite information regarding their release; why this release is considerably behind that of other Naval officers; what reduction is contemplated in the Naval medical service now that the war is over; and how many doctors have been recruited to this service during the past 12 months.

Mr. Alexander

The Admiralty has not yet complete information as to the state of wounded and invalids on the distant stations or of Naval personnel who have been prisoners of war in Japan. It is not yet clear what arrangements can be made for bringing these patients home. Further, it has not yet been settled how many doctors can be recruited into the Navy in the coming months and until these factors are known it will not be possible to give definite information regarding release of Naval medical officers. I am able to say that we expect to release Groups 9–19 by the end of 1945 and up to Group 30 by the end of June, 1946, in each case excluding those officers who volunteer for further service. If it proves at all possible with further knowledge to improve on these figures, this will be done.

At the above rate, release of medical officers will be only one or two groups behind the average rate for Naval officers. The reason for this slightly lower rate of release is primarily that the war in the Far East has been as much a war against disease as against the Japanese. It was necessary to send so many doctors to the East that the Naval requirements of doctors after the end of the war with Germany were actually greater than before. Although 187 doctors had been entered during the past 12 months there was still a very serious deficit. Now that the war with Japan is over, it will become possible to restore the situation fairly rapidly if the factors I mentioned at the beginning of my reply prove favourable. I should mention, however, a difficulty which will become apparent towards the end, that Naval surgeons as a rule are given their commissions several years older than other officers. This would naturally tend to leave them about four groups behind.