asked the Minister of Health if he has now invited the London teaching hospitals to consider the seconding of student nurses to mental and other hospitals as part of their training; if he will publish figures showing the proportion of beds to nurses in the teaching hospitals and in the average general hospital in the London area; and what is being done by regional boards to ensure an equitable distribution of staff within their regions and as between one region and another.
My right hon. Friend is inviting representatives of the London teaching hospitals to discuss the further secondment of student nurses with his officers next month. At 31st December, 1953, the ratio of beds to nursing staff was: in the London teaching hospitals 1·27 to 1 and in general hospitals under the metropolitan regional hospital boards 1·79 to 1. He is satisfied that regional hospital boards are doing their utmost, by establishment control and other means to improve the distribution of nursing staff.
Is the hon. Lady aware that, while I appreciate the work the hospital boards are doing, it is still true that large numbers of general hospitals are grossly understaffed while many of the teaching hospitals are overstaffed?
What is being done to remove that disparity?
There is certainly a different standard and, secondly, my right hon. Friend has continuously been dealing with this question of secondment from the teaching hospitals. We are now working with them to see if further secondment into particular spheres to ease the shortage can take place. I quite agree that we can look for fruitful results from the present negotiations.