HC Deb 13 May 1948 vol 450 cc228-9W
14. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Health how many hospital beds are empty because of the shortage of nurses; whether the number is increasing or decreasing; if he is satisfied with the steps being taken to remedy this situation; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bevan

The hospital authorities returns at 31st December, 1947, give the number of vacant beds for which staff was not available as 61,146. This was about 2,000 less than the corresponding figure at 30th September, 1947. We are doing what we can to remedy the shortage of nurses, but are certainly never satisfied with the situation.

Sir E. Graham-Little

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that beds in hospitals in England and Wales have become, during the past two years, progressively empty owing to nursing deficiency and, as the demands upon institutional treatment must increase with the operation of the National Health Act, what measures he has taken to meet this position.

Mr. Bevan

No. There has recently been a slight increase in the number of beds available. But my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service and I do not of course regard this as in any way satisfactory and we are making constant and special efforts to increase the recruitment of nurses, and otherwise improve the staffing position.