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Mental Hospital Nurses (Recruitment)

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 15 July 1954

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35.

asked the Minister of Health what progress he has to report on the recruitment of nursing staff for mental hospitals.

Between 30th June, 1953, and 31st March this year the nursing staff in mental and mental deficiency hospitals increased by 119 full-time and 272 part-time. Recruitment measures are still being vigorously pursued.

Has the hon. Lady organised a general recruiting campaign to meet the desperate need for increased staff, and, if she has, will she keep in mind the well-organised meeting held in Huddersfield in March of this year? Secondly, does the Minister propose to implement the recommendation in the report of the Central Health Services Council that there should be training courses for mental nurses which would be recognised as adequate mental training without the necessity for full nursing qualifications?

The bulk of the money available for recruitment has been devoted to the mental health side, but we believe that the money can best be spent on local campaigns because recruits have got to be drawn from the areas within the vicinity of the hospitals. Thirty-six campaigns have been arranged; 18 are completed or on the way to completion; and 18 are still to be completed.

As to the second point, this is a matter for the General Nursing Council but the hon. Member seems to have gone a little astray in his supplementary and I should like to meet him later and discuss it with him.

Is the hon. Lady aware that the figures she has given do not show that the recruitment is being successful? That being the case, will the Ministry consider whether improved salary scales and other conditions are necessary in order to speed up the recruitment of nurses for mental hospitals?

Wage negotiations are a matter for the joint negotiating machinery. There has recently been an increase of staffs in mental hospitals. We are certainly not satisfied with the result of the recruiting campaign, but it is not half way through yet and it is a little premature to condemn the whole campaign in advance.