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Hospital Nurses (Rushcliffe Committee's Recommendations)

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 18 March 1943

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17 and 18.

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether he has considered the letter sent to him by the Middlesex Medical Society in reference to the position of ward sisters as recommended by the Rushcliffe Committee; and whether he proposes to take any action to effect some improvement;

(2) whether he is aware that the recommendations of the Rushcliffe Committee relating to assistant nurses will not encourage suitable women to take up this work; and whether, in view of the special position they occupy through absence of the possibility of promotion, their position can be reconsidered?


asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the dissatisfaction expressed by the 200 doctors of the Middlesex County Medical Society with the Rushcliffe recommendation that a ward sister should be paid only £130 per annum plus £70 living-out allowance; and whether he proposes to reconsider this recommendation?

The recommendations of the Rushcliffe Committee are the result of a full examination of the question by a Committee consisting of two panels representing employers and employed respectively. I have commended to hospital authorities these recommendations, the adoption of which will secure for the first time uniform national scales for all grades of hospital nurses. I do not propose to take any action likely to prejudice the agreement which has been reached.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that as the most progressive public health authority is not represented on the employers' side, the Report in effect makes some of the workers worse off than they were before, and will he give an opportunity for the reconsideration of the matter?

I could not agree with that. The individual representatives of the employers' panels and the Royal College, the trade union concerned, all agree that this is the greatest advance ever made in the history of the nursing profession.

What will be the estimated financial advantage to the nursing profession as a whole if the Report is implemented?

The total additional cost of the proposals in a full year is estimated at £2,000,000.

Is the Minister aware that before a ward sister obtains that position, she has to work for many years, and is also responsible for the training of the students, and can the Minister honestly say that £130 a year, plus £70 living-out allowance, is a fair and just remuneration?

The hon. Lady had better look at the Report. She will see that there are figures for recommended increases in the salary of £130, rising by increments of £10 to £180, with one additional service increment of £20 after 10 years service, so that with emoluments the salary goes to from £230 to £300.

That is not my responsibility. The Royal College, the trade union concerned, formed the panel, and it is to them that the hon. Lady should address her question.

Is it not the case that the Royal College of Nurses is in no sense whatever a trade union and that the trade unions that represent the staffs are appalled at the character of this Report?

Is it not a fact that not only were the nursing bodies represented on the Committee, but that the Trades Union Congress and all the local authorities were represented?

Is it not a fact that the Middlesex County Council has sent a letter to the right hon. Gentleman pointing out the anomalies?

That may be so, but over a large scale of various grades of nurses it is perfectly simple, when long negotiations have taken place and there have been general decisions about a national standard, for any body to say that it does not agree with this, that or the other thing. I am defending what is a great advance on a national basis for the first time.

I beg to give notice that, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.