National Health Service Reorganisation

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd January 1974.

Alert me about debates like this

Mr. R. C. Mitchell:

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent discussions he has had with representatives of NALGO concerning the transfer of staff from the local government health service to the National Health Service ; and if he will make a statement.

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

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell) on 14th December—[Vol. 866, c. 221–2.] I am sending him a copy of my letter of 10th December to NALGO. Consultations with the Staff Side are continuing as necessary.

Mr. Mitchell:

Is the Minister aware that there is still considerable alarm and despondency among local government health service workers regarding their future career and employment prospects? Is there anything else that he can say at this stage to alleviate their fears?

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

I respect the hon. Gentleman's judgment. I do not know how recently he has canvassed opinion, but only this month we sent out the latest circular on the protection of employment, which was prepared after long consultation with NALGO and which will, I think, ease the minds of many of the people of whom the hon. Gentleman is thinking.

Photo of Mr Bernard Conlan Mr Bernard Conlan , Gateshead East

Is the Minister aware that in Gateshead the liaison committee set up to consult the staff about the reorganisation has not yet even met, and that many members of local authority health services are so worried about the lack of consultation on salaries and conditions of service that they are applying for and obtaining positions in other sections of local government? Therefore, this side of the health service may be sadly depleted in staff from 1st April.

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

That was, indeed, a fear, but I hope that it has been reduced by the circular issued earlier this month, to which I have referred, and by the promulgation, also this month, of the second-in-line post salaries, which will, I think, show many of the local authority health staff what prospects there are in the reorganised health service.

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

Is the right hon. Gentleman able to give an assurance to the House that by 1st April all the posts will be filled, particularly those of area administrative financial officers, medical officers and district community physicians? These are key posts on which the reorganised National Health Service must rely if it is to work efficiently and successfully.

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

I fully expect that full teams of officers at regional, area and district level will have been appointed by mid-March.

Photo of Miss Joan Quennell Miss Joan Quennell , Petersfield

As my right hon. Friend has so recently sent out a circular, will he consider, as a courtesy, letting me have a copy of it?

Photo of Mrs Renée Short Mrs Renée Short , Wolverhampton North East

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what discussions he has had with NALGO since 17th December on the reorganisation of the NHS.

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

There have been no specific discussions, apart from those taking place in the Whitley Councils on remuneration and other matters, since 17th December, but I am considering comments by a number of staff organisations, including NALGO, on a consultation paper about appeals issued on 30th November.

Photo of Mrs Renée Short Mrs Renée Short , Wolverhampton North East

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he should have consulted NALGO right at the beginning of the reorganisation of the National Health Service? He had not done so by 17th December, and I have received a number of representations from NALGO branches, including my own, expressing concern about appointments. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that NALGO is in such a ferment that there are proposals for strike action, so concerned are its members about the situation in many parts of the country? Should not the Minister get together with NALGO immediately and discuss the matters outstanding?

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

I should like publicly to pay tribute—[Interruption.]—I hope the hon. Lady will have the courtesy to listen to my answer.

Photo of Mrs Renée Short Mrs Renée Short , Wolverhampton North East

I always listen to the right hon. Gentleman.

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

I should like to pay tribute publicly to the continuous and constructive co-operation that the Government have had from NALGO in the consultations on reorganisation, which have been going on for a very long time. It is true that there are some outstanding matters, particularly appeals. It is true that NALGO is not totally satisfied, but it has been very effective in the consultation and has achieved—and perhaps this is associated with the time involved—a great number of improvements for its members.