HC Deb 03 March 1969 vol 779 cc37-8W
Mr. McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give the total number of qualified doctors employed full-time by his Department; and what progress has been made in integrating the medical services of the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.

Mr. Reynolds

1,756 qualified doctors are currently employed full-time. This number includes 172 retired Service doctors employed as civilian medical practitioners.

As regards the second part of the Question, the possibility of integrating the three medical Services into a single Service has been examined on a number of occasions during the last 25 years. On each occasion the conclusion has been that this is not practicable for a number of reasons. However, Departmental machinery exists for keeping under review, and co-ordinating as appropriate, medical activities common to all three Services. Rationalisation of such activities continues to take place where it can be demonstrated that this leads to greater efficiency and economy. For example, Service hospitals have for some years accepted patients from all three Services, as well as from the National Health Services: medical stores and equipment are supplied by a single central depot for all three Medical Services: and common training arrangements have been made on an inter-Service basis in certain medical trades.