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Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 22 March 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland in how many cases in Scotland was analgesia administered by domiciliary midwives or nurses trained in midwifery in the years 1938, 1944, 1947 and 1948, respectively.

There could not have been any cases in 1938 and 1944 because it was only in July, 1946, that the Central Midwives Board for Scotland authorised the administration of analgesia by midwives. In 1947 there were 120 cases and in 1948, according to preliminary returns, about 800.

Will the right hon. Gentleman do everything in his power to make sure that this service is extended and is known and encouraged by his Department, because it is not so at the moment?

Would the right hon. Gentleman say, of the figures he has given for 1947 and 1948, how many of those cases were treated without the presence of a doctor?

In Scotland more than half the cases of births outside hospitals were treated with a doctor present, and in every case the doctor has the authority over the case.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say what proportion of the total number of births these figures represent?

About half the total number of 116,000 births in Scotland take place in hospital, more than half of them are under the care of a doctor, and less than half of them have the midwife only present at the birth.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is a terrible percentage in Scotland as compared with the figures which the English Minister gave the other day?

I think my hon. and gallant Friend is mistaken because in Scotland the tradition is different. As I mentioned last week, the doctor is in charge of the case, and until 1946 midwives were not allowed to take charge.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland at what rate he expects that midwives, and nurses qualified in midwifery, in Scotland will be trained during the next two years in the use of analgesia; and when he anticipates that such training will be completed.

Training in analgesia is now being given to certified midwives at the rate of almost 250 a year, and to all student midwives numbering about 600 a year. I have every hope that by the end of 1950 over three-quarters of the midwives then practising in Scotland will have had this training, and my aim is to have the process substantially complete by the end of 1951.

Does that figure include, not only midwives, but nurses qualified in midwifery, which is not quite the same thing?

The Question relates only to midwives. I take it that all the nurses are being trained.

If they are qualified in midwifery they have been trained in the use of analgesia.

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that the mothers of Scotland, who have expected and been entitled to the services of a doctor, will not now be fobbed off by midwives; and will he hand the midwives over to hon. Members opposite who have been in labour pains since the General Election of 1945 and who have not yet produced a policy?

In view of the last question, is the Secretary of State aware that the midwives of Scotland will not like to be regarded as "fobbed off"—and may I ask him by what date he considers there will be a sufficient number of doctors to attend all confinements?

In Scotland the number of cases in which the doctor himself is present at confinements is increasing. We certainly have no intention of taking away from the doctor the responsibility of doing the job.