asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the Medical Sub-Committee of the Durham County National Health Insurance Committee have recently fined medical practitioners on the panel for alleged excess in the cost of drugs given to panel patients, asserting that drugs of a less expensive character should have been given and that medicine should have been ordered to have been given at greater intervals: and will he have inquiries made into this with a view to the proper treatment of those suffering from ill health?
In answer to the first part of the question. I would observe that the withholding of remuneration on the ground of excessive prescribing is settled not by a Sub-Committee, but the Insurance Committee itself, who receive independent medical advice from the Panel Committee. I have not yet received the reports of the particular cases to which the hon. Member refers, but I have no jurisdiction to review the Insurance Committee's decisions unless the doctors concerned exercise their right of appeal to me. There must be some safeguard against extravagance in prescribing, but the present arrangements are not working well and are under revision.