Nurses

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Health – in the House of Commons on 20th October 1942.

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Mr. De la Bère:

asked the Minister of Health whether he is now in a position to make a statement regarding the Government's proposals for securing an increased supply of trained nurses; and the Government's proposals for ensuring a better standard of livelihood for those so engaged?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

Proposals for securing a better distribution of certain nurses, after discussion with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service have now been put to representatives of the nurses and of their employers. With regard to the salaries of nurses, my hon. Friend is already aware of the committee under the chairmanship of Lord Rushcliffe which is considering this matter.

Mr. De la Bère:

This has been going on for a very long time. The nurses' standard of pay has not improved, and nurses are not becoming more numerous. It is necessary to do something now. It is no good referring it to committees. We want some practical action.

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

The number has increased very largely, but I am not entirely satisfied that we could not at this time be training another 2,000 or 3,000 who wish to become trained nurses in the future. We could also do with another 10,000 nurses throughout the country. There has also been an interim increase in salaries pending the result of this committee of inquiry.

Photo of Sir Frederick Messer Sir Frederick Messer , Tottenham South

Is it not a fact that the increase is mainly in student nurses, and there are many trained nurses who will not come back into the profession because they are better paid outside?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

No, there have not only been students. There has been an increase in trained nurses as well as student nurses throughout the country. I think at present nearly all the trained nurses in the country are working. If the hon. Member knows of any who can be released from other jobs, I shall be glad to hear of them.

Mr. De la Bère:

The pay is quite inadequate.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

In spite of the increase, is it not a fact that we have not been able to open certain sanatoria because of the shortage of nurses?

Photo of Dame Florence Horsbrugh Dame Florence Horsbrugh , Dundee

We are arranging for a better distribution of nurses. We have to have a ratio of trained nurses and nursing auxiliaries. One of the difficulties has been to get the right distribution.