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Volume 641: debated on Friday 5 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Health in what areas, and in what specialities, there was a shortage of doctors in Great Britain in 1960.

I assume the hon. Member refers to hospital doctors. Vacancies in the grades of registrar and below were slightly under 9 per cent. of posts, varying between 6 per cent. and 17 per cent. in different regions, but some vacancies were filled by locums. In senior grades there were few vacancies apart from those arising in the ordinary course.

What long-term steps are being taken to remedy this state of affairs? In view of the founding of more universities, is the right hon. Gentleman having discussions with the University Grants Committee with a view to founding new medical schools in these universities?

I have referred in Answer to a previous Question to the steps being taken to revise the statistical basis of the estimates of doctor requirements.

But is the right hon. Gentleman taking any particular steps now? Surely with the new universities it would be possible to start one or two new medical schools almost at once?

Starting new schools is not a matter for me but some estimation of the requirements of the Health Service is, and I have referred to that in a previous Answer.

Regarding the shortage of consultant posts, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the statement of the number of vacancies is not a fair assessment of the position, since large numbers of regional boards want additional posts established which his own Department does not permit them to establish?

Vacancies are the only statistical figures which I have available to give to the hon. Gentleman. But the number of posts in 1960 for which approval was withheld because there were no applicants available to fill them is comparatively few.