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asked the Minister of Health whether he will give an assurance that employees at the Chelmsley, Marston Green and Coleshill Hall Mental Hospitals will receive their wages promptly in future, and that patients at both hospitals will not be affected by the Minister's disagreement with hospital clerical and administrative workers.
I am informed that the responsible hospital management committee has given instructions for priority to be given in future to the payment of wages and that last week they were in fact paid on Friday. I have no evidence that the patients are being or will be affected.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that 1,100 patients are in these two hospitals and that if this situation continues trouble is expected in the future? Is he further aware that in January the nurses are to suffer from a ban on overtime and that the local management committee thinks that this may well affect the patients in the long run?
My information is that there is no evidence that the overtime ban is affecting patients at this hospital. If the hon. Member has apprehensions in this regard, perhaps he will be good enough to particularise them and to write to me about them.
As I was present with my hon. Friend at this hospital, may I ask the Minister to consider how serious it is that this hospital cannot continue without overtime, and especially that wages could not be paid without the clerks having to work overtime to calculate and pay out? Quite apart from the dispute, it is a serious matter.
The wages for last week were punctually paid. It is the intention of this hospital management committee to pay two weeks' wages on Thursday next in order to cover the Christmas holiday period.