asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that there is a shortage of qualified pharmacists; and if he will make regulations to admit sergeant dispensers, demobilised from the Forces as qualified pharmacists and thus reduce the shortage.
Has my right hon. and learned Friend any special steps in mind to increase the supply of qualified pharmacists? Would it be possible to discuss with the Pharmaceutical Society whether these sergeant dispensers could have a short course—shorter than normal—and then be qualified?
As my hon. Friend may be aware, under the Pharmacy Act, 1954, there is statutory provision in regard to the making of byelaws which can allow for the admission of military dispensers without full examination in certain circumstances. So far as my own action is concerned, I am in consultation with the Central Health Services Council and my Standing Advisory Pharmaceutical Committee as to the best advice I can give to hospitals about the reorganisation of their pharmaceutical departments so as to make the best use of the available trained manpower.
I think that the training they have is somewhat shorter than the corresponding civilian training which leads to admission to the Register at present. I think that that is why advantage has not been taken of the statutory power to make such byelaws as those to which I have referred.
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the military training is probably about two years, compared with four or five years—in other words, there is a very substantial difference indeed?