asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the number of idle doctors in uniform and the shortage of medical men in civil life; and whether he will see that the Fighting Forces provide, where possible, some measure of interworking between their respective medical men so as to simplify and accelerate medical attention and liberate numbers of such medical men after a brief period of attachment to their units to enable them to familiarise themselves with their prospective duties, on the understanding that should any sudden emergency arise they will at once be recalled to their posts?
All practicable steps to secure the economical use of doctors in His Majesty's Forces and in civilian services, including the measures referred to in the Question, are being examined by the Medical Personnel (Priority) Com- mittee under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Dominions. The scope of this Committee and a summary of an interim report are set out in the replies which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) on 19th June and 2nd October last. I understand that further co-operation between the medical branches of the three Services has already been secured in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee and of the earlier Committee presided over by Sir Arthur Robinson, thus reducing, without any loss of efficiency in the Services, the number of doctors that would otherwise have been required. A system of releasing doctors from the Services to civilian practice, where there are special reasons for this course, is already in operation.
The selection of doctors for recruitment to His Majesty's Forces is made by the Central Medical War Committee and its local committees, with due regard to civilian medical needs, and before proposing a factory medical officer for recruitment these Committees satisfy themselves that suitable arrangements can be made for carrying on his work.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that some factories are depleted entirely of their medical staffs and that in one case a factory employing 6,000 people has no medical officer?