Nurses

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th November 1971.

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Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North 12:00 am, 9th November 1971

asked the Secretary of State for Social Servies if he will conduct an inquiry into National Health Service nurses' pay and conditions.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

No, Sir. Nurses' pay and conditions of services are matters for the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, under both Governments, we have had that corny answer year in and year out, that the Whitley Council of which he speaks is practically useless and that we continue to take advantage of young women who enter this honourable profession—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] and, I would add, in a most disgraceful way? A young woman who passes her S.R.N. examination and then goes on to take a course in midwifery has to revert to a student's pay. No other profession would stand for such a thing. Instead of giving us excuses about the Whitley Council, will the right hon. Gentleman act as a Minister and stop this abominable practice?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I am not quite sure to what abominable practice the hon. Gentleman is referring. He ought to give me notice of the relatively technical point he has put in his supplementary question. If he wishes I will study that case and write to him, but I am not aware of any abominable practice.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that we will not have to press as we have had to press for so long in the past before we move forward and improve nurses' conditions? Is he further aware that we do not want to hear this answer about the Whitley Council because the management side of it is under the Minister's control? I wish to goodness he would remember that.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

My hon. Friend will be aware that Ministers both personally and ex officio very much want to have a contented nursing profession. It is some satisfaction that over the last year the number of nurses in post has risen by no less than 12,000.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a case came to my notice only yesterday of a fully qualified State registered nurse who is also a qualified midwife and whose last monthly payment amounted to £56 net? Is he further aware that a previous Conservative Minister of Health has said that the Whitley Council machinery is completely unsatisfactory for nurses? Will he make a statement about his intentions to reform a system which is grossly exploiting our nurses?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

The Whitley Council machinery cannot be blamed for the reality, which is that the country has a limited amount of resources with which to meet a multiplicity of demand. If the hon. Gentleman would send me details of this case I will look into it, but we have to take account of the whole range of factors involved.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Photo of Mr Peter Trew Mr Peter Trew , Dartford

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the number of vacancies in nurses' hostels for which his Department is responsible.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash

I regret that this information is not available.

Photo of Mr Peter Trew Mr Peter Trew , Dartford

While I appreciate the difficulty of ascertaining the precise figures, will my hon. Friend consider the possibility of letting any vacant places to students with a view both to improving hostel finances and to easing the student housing problem?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Barkston Ash

Hospital boards do consider the readaptation of vacant premises for other uses of this sort.