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Hospitals

Volume 655: debated on Monday 5 March 1962

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Acton Hospital (Nurses)

14.

asked the Minister of Health how many nurses trained in Acton Hospital have become state registered during the past five years.

Seventy-six.

While thanking my hon. Friend for the information, may I ask whether she would not agree that as Acton Hospital is to continue as a general hospital for only about ten years, as I understand the new hospital plan, it will be extremely desirable if the small but particularly efficient unit should continue training nurses until the date of its metamorphosis?

I am sure it will not comply with the new conditions for recognition by the General Nursing Council, by which hospitals, in order to secure approval as training schools, should have a minimum of 300 beds, 240 of them occupied, and, if possible, a student establishment of 100. Acton is nowhere near those figures. Nevertheless it does make a contribution. I understand that it is being considered for training for the Roll, and I hope that will be the outcome.

Hospital Routines

15.

asked the Minister of Health what progress is being made with his campaign to ease hospital routines.

Results are not capable of precise measurement, but the response has been encouraging and further progress in all the fields concerned will be continuously watched.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this campaign has been generally welcomed, but that certain problems arise for hospital administration and nursing staff in adjusting routines? Would he not applaud the quiet and uncomplaining efficiency with which these schemes are being introduced?

Yes, indeed; this must be a continuous process. It is not a thing which can be brought about by decree or otherwise than by continuous study by all concerned.

Nurses

32.

asked the Minister of Health what special measures he intends to employ to increase recruitment of nurses, so that he will be able to implement the additional leave entitlement recently awarded to the profession.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this extra two weeks' holiday, an increase to six weeks for nurses, is not in fact wanted by large numbers of nurses because many of them cannot afford to take the holiday? Many of them are foreign nurses and they have nowhere to go when they have the extra holiday. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the management committee side thinks that this was a disastrous arbitration award, and will he consider making special payments or payments for overtime to those nurses who decide voluntarily that they are prepared to work for the hospitals during some of the extra leave period?

I should not wish to criticise the policy of the award which has been made and implemented. I think that it is a part of the reason for the increase in leave that the leave should actually be taken to afford an opportunity of relief and refreshment to people who work under very great pressure.

Will the Minister tell us whether nurses who feel themselves unable to afford to go away on holiday may none the less, without working, stay on in their rooms in hospital and have nothing to pay, taking a holiday in that way?

Redundancy

33.

asked the Minister of Health what negotiations he has had with representatives of National Health Service staff on the subject of redundancy agreements in the event of staff becoming redundant through the closure of hospitals; and what has been the result.

Measures to deal with any staff redundancy have been discussed with staff representatives and will shortly be notified to hospital authorities.

We all agree that the redundancy will be very small, but is the Minister aware that there is some anxiety among the staffs following the publication of his hospital plan? May I take it that the arrangements which will be published have been reached with the agreement of the representatives of the staffs?

Yes, the arrangements have been thoroughly discussed with representatives of the staff, and I am not aware that there is any—certainly no substantial—disagreement. I expect the arrangements to be published in the next few days, and I shall let the hon. Gentleman have a copy as soon as they are out.

Mentally Subnormal Patients, Manchester

37.

asked the Minister of Health how many mentally subnormal patients are on the waiting list for hospitals in the Manchester Regional Hospital Board area; and what prospects there are of increasing the number of beds available.

Three hundred and forty-four last December; for proposed developments I would refer the hon. Member to Command Paper 1604.

Is that not a very high figure for one type of case? Is the hon. Lady aware that there are waiting lists also in the regional hospital board area for other cases? Is the Manchester region getting its fair share of the resources available? If not, would it not be possible for other regions to help Manchester out with these long waiting lists?

No doubt the hon. Gentleman is aware that Liverpool has an extreme shortage of such beds, and, therefore, beds are pooled between Manchester and Liverpool. The new hospital plan provides for an increase in beds at Cranage Hall Hospital from 524 beds to 924, with an increase for the Liverpool region over the period of 1,500 beds. One further important point which I should add is that the Lancashire County Council has proposals for 14 hostels for sub-normal patients.

Is the hon. Lady aware that this type of case means that those on the waiting lists are waiting for deaths in order to get vacancies? This is a rather different situation from that created by ordinary diseases. Will she give particular attention to the need for beds for this type of case?

The hospital development plan provides for a considerable increase in the number of beds available for subnormal patients. If the hon. Gentleman has a certain case in mind, I will look at it—on the understanding, of course, that I would not want to press for priority for a particular case.

Nottingham General Hospital

39.

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the practice prevalent at Nottingham General Hospital of human bones removed in operations being given to nurses to wear as ear-rings; and what disciplinary steps he has taken or proposes to take.

Then how does the hon. Lady explain that one of the surgeons in the operating theatre admitted that this practice exists and that he and his colleagues have given such bones to nurses, that one of the nurses in the operating theatre has said that this is common practice, and that other members of the staff have freely admitted this to the Press? How can the hon. Lady give such an answer when these statements are all on record? Will she make a further inquiry to see that any other barbaric practices of this kind are discouraged?

Both the nurses and the surgeon have strenuously denied making such statements; 220 nurses connected with ear, nose and throat work in any way have been interviewed and all deny that such a practice could have existed. The bone itself is only 3 mm. and I do not believe that it could even make an ear-ring. I am glad the hon. Gentleman asked this Question because it enables me to nail this lie.

How is it possible to call this barbaric? Even if this thing were true, these are only bone fragments, no longer required, which are taken out, just as gall stones are taken from the gall bladder. Will she not agree with me that even gall stones can be very attractive when polished and threaded and turned into a necklace?

Physiotherapists

41.

asked the Minister of Health what are the salaries now being paid to physiotherapists in the National Health Service.

Between £525 and £1,155 per annum, depending on grade and length of service.

Does the hon. Lady realise that there is a grave shortage of these medical auxiliaries in the National Health Service? How does she expect to have an efficient Health Service when the auxiliaries are paid only a pittance and when applications for increases are turned down by the Ministry through the Whitley Council?

There has been an increase of 22 per cent. in these auxiliaries since 1949. Of course, the work is developing and there is need for more. As I have said before, salaries are a matter for the Whitley Council, before which there is a claim at the moment.

Has the Institute of Physiotherapists asked for an interview with the Minister? If so, what answer has it received? Will he grant an interview?