§ 37. Mr. Longden
asked the Minister of Health how many more nurses, male and female, are now needed in the acute hospitals and in psychiatric hospitals, respectively; and what steps he is taking to obtain them.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
Each employing authority determines its staffing needs, and information is not collected centrally about the additional number of staff required to meet those needs. Pay increases are under negotiation in the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council, and I am discussing with regional hospital boards ways of improving methods of recruitment.
§ Mr. Longden
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what the discrepancy is? How many nurses are we short of in these two kinds of hospital? Would it not be a good thing to encourage male nurses in psychiatric hospitals at least not to retire too soon by changing the earnings rule? Now, if they retire and take part-time employment outside the Government service, their pension is not affected, but if they take other part-time employment inside the Government service it is. Would it not help to alter the earnings rule so as to encourage them to stay on after 55?
§ Mr. Robinson
On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, which does not strictly arise out of this Question, the earnings rule is not peculiar to the hospital service. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to put a Question down if he wishes to ask about that. On the first part, the latest figures I have available, for September, 1964, show that the total number of hospital nursing and midwifery staff in all grades is the highest so far recorded.