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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Extension of Responsibility of National Medical Committee

Extension of Responsibility of National Medical Committee

With the outbreak of war the original purpose of the National Medical Committee was extended to enable it to take measures to ensure that the requirements of the Navy, Army, and Air Force were met as far as professional medical personnel were concerned, and to maintain a balance between the needs of the armed services and the civilian population.

On 7 September 1939 the Ministers of Health and Defence gave their approval to control being assumed by the Medical Committee in the matters in which it had been acting in a planning capacity page 19 prior to the war, and the committee became in effect the adviser to the Government on all medical matters in connection with the war. No members of the medical profession, other than those then under obligation to the Army, whether in hospitals or private practice, could be accepted for service until their case had been reviewed by the Medical Committee.

At its meeting on 26 September 1939 the Medical Committee expressed its opinion that, in addition to functions already assumed, it should be given further powers to enable it to be the recommending authority direct to the Minister of Health for utilisation of all medical, nursing, and semi-professional personnel, whether civil or institutional, connected with the health of the community. This included medical practitioners, nurses, dentists, radiologists, pathologists, pharmacists, and masseurs. The recommendation of the committee was agreed to.

In October 1939 a Dental Sub-Committee and a Masseurs Advisory Committee were formed. No control was instituted in regard to the enlistment of chemists, but in March 1940 when the Director of Pharmacy pointed out the numbers of pharmacists who had enlisted and been called up for military service, sometimes with combatant units, the Medical Committee recommended to the Director of National Service that no further pharmacists be accepted unless required as dispensers in the Army Medical Corps.