Nurses (Recruitment)

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd February 1972.

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Photo of Mr Harry Gourlay Mr Harry Gourlay , Kirkcaldy District of Burghs 12:00 am, 2nd February 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement regarding the recruitment of student nurses in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) on 18th January which indicated a steady improvement in recruitment.—[Vol. 829, c. 146.]

Photo of Mr Harry Gourlay Mr Harry Gourlay , Kirkcaldy District of Burghs

I am interested in those figures. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some hospital boards of management in Scotland have had to postpone recruitment of student nurses because of financial limitations? In view of the introduction of a 40-hour week for nurses and the clamant need for trained nursing staff, is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a danger of reduction of standards of patient care in hospitals in Scotland? Would he undertake to see that sufficient funds are made available to regional hospital boards to try to maintain or even to improve the standards of patient care?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

It is for the board of management to determine how the funds which it is allocated can best be spent. But I will bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said, and if he has a particular case in mind I will look at that urgently.

Photo of Mr Henry Brewis Mr Henry Brewis , Galloway

Would my hon. Friend see that facilities in nurses' homes are continually being improved by things like extra telephones for nurses, which at present are usually provided by the friends of the hospital rather than the hospital board?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

I thank my hon. Friend for that suggestion. It is certainly something that regional boards and boards of management are examining carefully. The nurses' homes that I have visited in the past six months have impressed me with the conditions available.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Whatever the recruitment figures might be, is there not considerable wastage caused by trained nurses leaving the profession, due in large measure to the gross exploitation of these young women and the shocking inadequacy of their pay? Will the hon. Gentleman undertake that the current pay claim by nurses is expedited by the Government and that the Government will take steps to ensure that they do not impose an arbitrary 8 per cent. annual increase on the nurses?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfriesshire

I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's approach to this matter. I hope he will realise that for student nurses, to which the Question refers, the wastage has been falling in recent years, and this is a very good trend. The wage claim is now before the Whitley Council and it will come to the Government in due course.