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Maternity Cases (Accommodation)

Volume 390: debated on Thursday 3 June 1943

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59.

asked the Minister of Health whether in his consideration of future adequate national health and medical services, special attention is being given to the need of providing efficient municipal maternity homes throughout the country; and whether he will state the present number of private and municipal maternity homes and their respective number of beds?

In the schemes for the future the provision of adequate accommodation for maternity cases is being considered in common with all other classes of case needing institutional care. According to the latest figures in my Department, there are some 4,100 maternity beds in voluntary institutions, 8,000 in municipal homes and hospitals and over 3,000 in the emergency maternity homes established by my Department, making a total of between 15,000 and 16,000 beds in all.

In view of the shortage of beds in maternity hospitals at the present time, can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that plans are being prepared to see that every area in the country has an adequate maternity service?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has given that answer on many other occasions? Is he further aware that expectant mothers are turned away from hospitals in this country every day, for lack of accommodation?

No doubt the hon. Lady knows that there are thousands more beds than there were when the war broke out and that their number is still being added to.

To what extent has the recent call for an increased service of nurses and midwives affected the situation?

I would like to see that question on the Paper. As the House knows, we have been taking very active steps in this matter.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman make a special inquiry into this urgent matter?

There is no need for a special inquiry. We know the facts, and we are working hard to make the maternity services as effective as they can be made.