HC Deb 23 October 1973 vol 861 cc480-2W
Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he is yet in a position to say when the report of the Jarrett Committee will be published.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

The Report of the Defence Medical Services Inquiry Committee is published today. Copies are available in the Vote Office.

The purpose of the inquiry, announced in the House by my predecessor in April 1971, was to review the arrangements for providing medical, dental and nursing services for the Armed Forces at home and abroad for peace and war in the light of developments in defence policy and to make recommendations".

The inquiry recommends against the amalgamation of the three separate medical services but proposes improved machinery in the Ministry of Defence for co-ordination and rationalisation: it makes specific recommendations particularly in regard to hospital facilities, the concentration of some specialised services and of the training of some medical and dental and auxiliary staff. It recommends a reduction both in the total number of hospital beds and in the number of Service hospitals to be provided in the United Kingdom.

The report makes a number of important recommendations about the continued improvement of facilities for postgraduate medical and dental training in the Services, so as to keep pace with the best opportunities available to the medical profession generally; for changes in the nursing structure and in arrangements for recruitment, training and employment of nurses; and for a review of some aspects of administration, especially in regard to hospitals.

The recommendations of the inquiry will now be considered by the Ministry of Defence; in view of their wide range this examination will take time. Decisions have, however, already been reached on two particular recommendations:

  1. (a) It is accepted that there should be no amalgamation of the three separate Medical Services, and new machinery has already been set up, on the lines recommended by the inquiry, for co-ordination between the Medical Services.
  2. (b) The future of the new hospital now under construction for the Army at Woolwich has been reviewed. It has been confirmed that the requirement for a military hospital remains valid, and construction is continuing.

I would like to take the opportunity of thanking the chairman of the committee, Sir Clifford Jarrett, his predecessor, Sir Edmund Compton, and all those who served on the committee for the time and care that they devoted to producing their comprehensive and valuable report.

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