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Public Health

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 25 March 1943

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Civil Nursing Reserve, South Wales (Wage Rates)

26.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction in certain South Wales hospitals as a result of the Welsh Board of Health refusing to allow boards of management to pay the same rates of wages to members of the Civil Nursing Reserve as are now to be paid to the normal staff; and, as all these nurses are performing similar duties, will he reconsider the attitude of his Department to this problem?

The recommendations of the Nurses' Salaries Committee cannot be automatically applied to members of the Civil Nursing Reserve, whose conditions of service are in some respects different from those of normal hospital staff. I am now reviewing the rates of pay of the Civil Nursing Reserve, in the light of the recommendations of the Nurses' Salaries Committee, but new rates cannot be paid until the review is completed. Any changes will operate, retrospectively if necessary, from the same date as the scales proposed by the Nurses' Salaries Committee for the ordinary staff of hospitals.

Can my right hon. Friend give an indication of when he is expecting a decision?

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the payment of allowances to the Civil Nursing Reserve without deduction of Income Tax?

Venereal Disease

27.

asked the Minister of Health whether any action has been taken hitherto to give effect to Regulation 33B in relation to contact cases?

I am not at present able to say to what extent the compulsory powers conferred by the Regulations have as yet been exercised, but I hope shortly to receive reports which local authorities were asked, early in January, to submit quarterly.

War-Time Nurseries

28, 29 and 30.

asked the Minister of Health (1) why the Burnley Corporation tender of £1,832 8s. 8d. for a war-time nursery at Rosehill School, being the only tender submitted, has been refused by his Department and the local authority instructed to incur further expense and delay by re-advertising;

(2) why the Burnley Corporation Works Department tender for a war-time nursery at St. Mary's School of £575 9s. 6d., being the lowest tender received, has been rejected by his Department in favour of a higher figure from a private firm, there being no question as to the quality of the work of the local authority's works department;

(3) why the Government have a different form for assessing expenditure on works carried out by local authorities from that used for private contractors with the result that, although equal in quality and cheaper in price, the tenders of local authorities are frequently refused; and whether he will take steps to alter this system?

The Burnley Corporation has in hand proposals for the provision of two nursery classes, and I am prepared to repay to the Corporation the approved cost of their construction. The question at issue is whether the basis of repayment shall be the actual cost of the work to the Council or an estimate of the cost made in advance, and the Council are not prepared to proceed with the work unless the second basis is adopted. Where a tender from an outside contractor is accepted, the estimate contained in that tender is the actual cost to the Council and therefore a proper basis of repayment. An estimate by the works department is not necessarily the actual cost and is therefore not a proper basis of repayment. No special form is prescribed by my Department for assessing expenditure on works carried out by local authorities.

Is it not a fact that because the allowance made for superannuation purposes to local authorities is restricted to a definite amount, they cannot meet that charge, because their labour costing is different; nevertheless, they can make that up by other means, and supply, without exceeding the limits, at a cheaper rate than the other people, but because of that particular formula, they are in difficulties?

I think we had better see whether we can resolve this matter by local discussion.

34.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the strong demand for a nursery school at Elm Park to enable married women to take part in war work; and whether he will take steps to hasten its opening?

My attention has been drawn to the demand for a war-time nursery at Elm Park, and my regional officer has agreed to the use of certain premises for the purpose. Subject to labour and materials being available for the necessary adaptation, every effort will be made to get the nursery opened at an early date.

Doctors' Practices (Sale)

36.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in adopting the medical recommendations of the Beveridge Report, he will safeguard the position of doctors who have planned to make provision for their retirement by selling their practices with or without houses and surgeries?

My hon. Friend may be sure that this factor will be fully appreciated in considering the new arrangements.

Milk (Pasteurisation)

37.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the conflicting policies which still obtain in regard to the pasteurisation of milk supplies in Great Britain, he will institute a comprehensive inquiry to establish a final settlement of the issues at stake in the light of all available scientific and economic evidence?

No Sir. I am advised that the facts are well known, and I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by the course suggested.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that pasteurisation will not be made compulsory?

Institution, Moss Side (Dental Treatment)

38.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will hold an inquiry into the provision made for the dental treatment of patients at the Moss Side State Institution for Mental Defectives, in view of the fact that a patient, with only one tooth with which she was able to bite, was not considered to need partial artificial dentures and these were recommended by the dental surgeon at another institution immediately she was transferred there?

Maternity Homes (Staff)

39.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the acute difficulties with which nursing homes, catering for maternity cases, have to deal in respect of shortage of midwives and domestic staff; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter?

I am aware of the difficulty experienced by maternity homes, owing to the general shortage of midwives, nurses, and domestic staff. Measures for improving recruitment and distribution of midwives and nurses are now being considered by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service in consultation with me and with the assistance of the National Advisory Council which he has recently set up. As regards domestic staff, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) on 18th March.

Psychological Medicine

52.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that no specific representative or specialist of psychological medicine sits on the Representative Medical Committee; and whether he will take steps to remedy this?

I do not think I should be justified in enlarging the Medical Advisory Committee at this stage, but it has always been contemplated that the Committee's membership should be periodically renewed, and I will bear this suggestion in mind.

Will the Minister meanwhile consult the accredited organisation of those engaged in psychological medicine with a view to an appointment when a vacancy occurs?

Misleading Advertisements

54.

asked the Minister of Health to what extent his Department concerns itself with the bona fides of the many products which are advertised as containing large proportions of vitamin C.

My Department is not directly responsible for this matter, but local food and drugs authorities have power to take proceedings against any person who publishes, or is a party to the publication of, an advertisement which falsely describes any food or drug or is otherwise calculated to mislead as to its nature, substance or quality.

Is the Minister really satisfied that there is such a thing as vitamin C?