asked the Minister of Health if, in view of the shortage of nurses, he will reconsider the regulation by which former V.A.D.s and auxiliary nurses, wishing to qualify as State registered nurses, will only be exempted from six months of their four years' training.
This is primarily a matter for the General Nursing Council, who decided after full consideration and discussion that the remission to be allowed in suitable cases should not exceed six months, thus reducing the minimum period of training from three to two and a half years. I have agreed to approve a rule to that effect.
When the right hon. Gentleman uses the word "primarily," will he be good enough to explain whether he does or does not accept Ministerial responsibility for the conditions under which State registered nurses are serving?
Yes, Sir, I believe the ultimate responsibility rests with me, but I am sure the Noble Lord will realise that if you reduce the period of training, the nurse is not necessarily helped thereby, because she has to acquire qualifications in a shorter time, which means a very great strain on those who are at the moment, unfortunately, having to do a great deal of domestic work in addition to their own work as nurses.
In view of the fact that the Minister admits that he is constitutionally responsible for this matter, and in view of the calamitous shortage of nurses, both in municipal and voluntary hospitals, is there any chance that he will be able to make a statement at an early date as to how he proposes to deal with the shortage?
I believe there is another Question on the Order Paper raising that point. I am extremely anxious about the nursing position, and I am taking most urgent steps to deal with it.