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Analgesia (Training)

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 21 June 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many local health authorities in Scotland have submitted schemes under the National Health Act; how many of these schemes make provision for the training in analgesia of midwives at present on their roll; and how many make full provision for transport for analgesia equipment.

All Scottish authorities are operating under approved statutory proposals requiring them to make provision on both points mentioned in the Question.

Have the schemes which have been submitted already given full satisfaction in those areas? Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long, on the average, it will be before all the midwives at present on the rolls will be trained under the schemes?

I think, speaking from memory, it is about two years—it is less than the period specified in the Measure brought before Parliament—before all our midwives can be trained. There has been some delay because some of the local authorities and some of the medical authorities have different views on what type of analgesia should be used, and some have different ideas on the economy of the different systems.

Does my right hon. Friend consider it advisable, in view of the dreadful housing conditions in Scotland, to encourage domiciliary midwifery?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many areas in Scotland where not a solitary midwife is trained at all, and that there are also many areas where there is no transport provided for any of the midwives?

I think I have explained to the hon. Gentleman before that that arises because in Scotland—in theory at least—every woman in confinement is entitled to the services of a doctor, and the doctor is in charge of her case and can utilise any method whatsoever to relieve her pain.

But is the right hon. Gentleman not quite well aware that, whatever the theory be, there are numbers of women in Scotland who do not have a doctor attending them in childbirth, and who are dependent on the services of midwives, and that a wholly inadequate service is provided in this regard?

I think the hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken. There is a greater and greater number of patients who are actually treated by doctors at the time of their confinement, and it is the practice of doctors wherever possible in Scotland to be personally present at the confinements.