§ 16. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take steps to ensure that the pay and conditions of nurses within the National Health Service are soon improved.
§ Dr. Owen
Improvements to nurses' pay and certain conditions of service are included in a general settlement which has recently been negotiated and agreed by the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council and which will come into operation from 1st April. We are aware of the concern of the nursing organisations over their claim for a general revaluation of salary scales and my right hon. Friend hopes to meet representatives of the staff side shortly for a general discussion on their problems.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Does my hon. Friend realise that many nurses regard the Whitley Council machinery as grossly unsatisfactory and unrepresentative of their views? Will he follow up the suggestion made by the President of the Royal College of Nursing only yesterday that there should be an independent inquiry into the pay and career structure of the nursing service, and that such an inquiry should report within a time scale comparable to that applicable to the inquiry into the mining industry?
§ Mrs. Kellett-Bowman
Does not the hon. Gentleman regret that the Government are preventing the nurses from going to the Relativities Board, which would have given them a square deal?
§ Mr. Ashton
Does my hon. Friend realise that, now that supplementary benefits are to be increased, many people will be going to work for less than they 267 could get by staying off work? Is there any intention to introduce a national minimum wage or any other measure for lower-paid workers?