The Warren Fisher Committee was appointed in 1931 to inquire into the dearth of medical officers in the three medical services.
By 1925, the supply of candidates for commission in the Medical Services had virtually ceased, and the First Warren Fisher Committee had been set up to take evidence and make recommendations. Certain increases in pay were authorized, but this had no permanent effect in encouraging recruiting. Only a few more candidates put themselves forward, so that by 1929, the supply had again almost stopped.
The Second Warren Fisher Committee commenced its deliberations in May 1931. The financial crisis of Aug 1931, however, suspended all sittings until 1932. A report was presented to Parliament in July 1933. The Committee concluded that while poor pay had played an important part in dissuading doctors from seeking a commission, a deterrent of equal importance was the lack of opportunity to specialize.
The services offered few opportunities for post graduate education and specialist work. In addition a career in the services had certain disadvantages. It was too short. Officers retired relatively young and could not educate their families satisfactorily on their pensions or easily obtain good civil employment. Promotion was too slow and few reached higher ranks. The amount of overseas service and the frequent moves were also disadvantageous.
The Committee proposed a reduction in the total establishment of officers by the elimination of posts which provided insufficient professional work. It recommended that officers who made the services their life were to be given an opportunity to specialize. Those who became specialists were to be allowed to spend their career in practicing their specialty. They were to be provided with the opportunity to advance to higher rank, without abandoning professional work for administrative work.
All officers were to be recruited for five years initially. Those suitable for a life career were to be chosen from the cohort of short service officers. Those not selected were to be transferred to the Reserves and given a gratuity large enough to assist them to buy a practice. The gratuity at the end of the five years was to be £1000. Overseas service was to be filled by junior officers of under six years' seniority.