Vote 11. National Health Service, Scotland

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 1959.

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Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire 12:00 am, 12th March 1959

The hon. Gentleman will realise that the ambulance service had to be built up to start with. No doubt an estimate was made of the time the vehicles would run and some vehicles did not last that long, hence the need for the urgent order. That is what I suppose to be the case, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that what he has said will be carefully looked at.

The hon. Lady asked about midwifery staffing and whether there was an adequate service in every part of Scotland today. She may like to know that, on average, there are about 48 confinements per midwife per year and the Working Party on Midwives which reported in 1949 regarded a case load of 55 a year as reasonable. The case load for midwives in hospitals has been maintained at 35 per midwife per year. It was at that figure in 1950 and the figure was still the same in 1957.

The main point made by the hon. Lady related to the question of maternity beds. It is accepted by all concerned that additional maternity beds are required in Glasgow which has the lowest proportion of institutional confinements in the four cities. The figure which I have does not quite accord with that of the hon. Lady. It is 62·4 per cent. compared with 70·2 per cent. for Scotland, but, in any case, we are agreed that it is low.

On the basis recommended by the Maternity Services Review Committee—the Montgomery Committee—about 850 maternity and ante-natal beds would be needed for Glasgow. At present, there are 693 beds. Work is expected to begin in the spring of next year on the 112-bed Yorkhill Maternity Hospital, the plans for which are now in final form. Twenty additional beds will shortly be available at the maternity unit at Robroyston Hospital through the conversion of existing accommodation there. Plans for a 53-bed unit at the Belvidere Hospital have recently been submitted by the regional board to the Department of Health, and are receiving urgent consideration.

In Lanarkshire, work is in progress on a new 120-bed maternity unit at Bellshill which it is expected to complete in 1961. Thirty additional beds have already been brought into use as a temporary measure in accommodation vacated by nurses, and 14 other additional beds will come into use shortly at Hamilton and Lanark. In Renfrewshire, Thornhill Maternity Hospital has recently been extended to replace the out-moded maternity unit at Barshaw, which is now being converted for geriatrics. In Dunbartonshire and Dumfries, also, there are improvements under way.

We appreciated the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Glasgow, Kelvin-grove (Mrs. McAlister). We are attaching the greatest importance to this in Glasgow. It could be said that the regional hospital board puts the first priority on maternity hospitals and the care of old age.