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Volume 654: debated on Monday 19 February 1962

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asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement on the shortage of physiotherapists in Northumberland; and what estimate he has made of the effect of present salary scales on the position.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) on 29th January.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that, despite the Answer to the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), there is still considerable disquiet, not only among physiotherapists in Northumberland, but throughout the country? Will she therefore look into the matter?

I know that there is a shortage of physiotherapists, particularly in the North, but the key to this situation is the shortage of teachers. We arranged a shortened course, a six-month course, for physiotherapy teachers. That is about halfway through, and I hope that it will alleviate the position.

While the question of teachers of physiotherapy is a factor in the shortage of physiotherapists, there is also another very important reason for the shortage, and that is the very low rates of pay which physiotherapists receive. Is the hon. Lady aware that what her right hon. Friend the Minister says about this matter, namely, that he cannot abrogate the Whitley Council machinery, sounds very hollow to these people in view of the fact that the Whitley Council machinery has been abrogated in connection with other industries? Will the hon. Lady have another look at the matter to see whether something tangible can be done to put these salary scales right?

This is essentially a matter for the Whitley Council, which was set up by hon. Members opposite when they were in power to deal with pay and working conditions. We cannot think of physiotherapists in isolation. There are other professions which must be considered.