Student Nurses

Oral Answers to Questions — Hospitals – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 November 1965.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00, 1 November 1965

asked the Minister of Health if he will set up an independent inquiry into the pay and conditions of work of student nurses.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Does my right hon. Friend's Answer mean that he is completely satisfied with the pay and conditions of these young girls? Can he tell me which member of his Department was responsible for the remark, reported in the Daily Mirror some while ago, that these girls might have great prestige to counteract all the disadvantages of possibly low pay? Will he take steps to make certain that that kind of argument is not used to exploit these young people?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I should want notice of the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question about an alleged statement reported in the Press. I would only say to my hon. Friend that I am never completely satisfied, but, as he knows, pay and service conditions are matters for the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council. As he also no doubt knows, student nurses' pay has this year been increased by between £24 and £76 per year, which is between 6 per cent. and 15½ per cent.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that an undue proportion of a student nurses's time is devoted to menial ward work; and what steps he is taking to prevent the exploitation of these nurses as a form of cheap labour.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I have no evidence of this and I do not accept the implications of the second part of the Question.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Will my right hon. Friend take steps to get evidence, because the information I have is that these girls are being exploited in this regard because it is difficult, especially in the urban areas, to get the kind of ancillary workers who are required to do this kind of work? Will my right hon. Friend take steps to get the facts and figures from the hospitals, particularly in the London area?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I shall be glad to consider any evidence which my hon. Friend can put before me. I can give him some facts and figures. The increase in the number of nursing auxiliaries and assistants which has taken place in the National Health Service between 1951 and 1964 is about 100 per cent. In the same period there has also been a 20 per cent. increase in the number of ward orderlies, domestics and other ancillary staff.