School Clinics (Medicines)
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that, when children are given prescriptions by a doctor at a school clinic, their parents have to pay the chemist for the medicines supplied; and, as this is contrary to the principle of the Health Service, if he will take steps to amend the regulations so as to provide that no charge shall be made.
Any medicines supplied at these clinics are provided free but if a school medical officer thinks a pupil requires a prescription he would no doubt refer him to his National Health Service doctor, who could prescribe for free supply under the service.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the case I sent him a prescription was given by the school doctor, and is it not rather a cumbersome proceeding for one doctor to have to send a child to another already overworked doctor?
No. The school medical service is grant-aided and it would be extremely difficult to operate the National Health Service in respect of this matter through the grant-aided service of the schools. It is also exceedingly undesirable for two doctors to have charge of one patient.
Is the Minister aware that these children are sent to the school clinics by the authority, and surely the doctors there are fully qualified? Is it not advisable that they should be given the same right as any other doctor to give a prescription?
The whole difficulty is to operate the National Health Service through the grant-aided medical service. Very little difficulty need be experienced by a person going to his own family doctor. My hon. Friend knows that it is the intention eventually to assimilate the therapeutical side of the school medical service into the National Health Service because of these difficulties.
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that some opticians are advising applicants for spectacles under the National Health Service that it will be months before they can receive them, whereas if they pay for them they can be supplied with glasses in a few weeks; and whether this practice conforms to his regulations.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) on 17th February. I shall be glad to have inquiries made into any specific cases which are brought to my notice.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has evidence that this is becoming a widespread practice, and is he satisfied that there is adequate local machinery for getting this put straight?
I do not think it is becoming a more extended practice than it was before; I believe that it is getting less. There are, I believe, some opticians who are doing this, and I think it is highly undesirable that it should be done.
asked the Minister of Health why he is unable to ascertain how many persons are now in receipt of payment for jobs in hospitals which were done voluntarily prior to 5th July, 1948.
I could no doubt ascertain the numbers, but do not consider it of sufficient importance to justify asking for a special return from 2,835 hospitals when they are so fully occupied otherwise.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this is a matter of administration which he could ascertain from those responsible for the administration without interfering with the medical service which has to be given in these hospitals? Is not it right that Parliament, which votes this money, should ensure that there is no unnecessary extravagance?
The administration of the hospital is responsible for providing the medical services of the hospital. If the administration have additional work to do they cannot do their medical administration as they should—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] As I have had interpolations of "nonsense" I would point out that it is from the other side of the House that we are continually having reproaches about administrators having to fill up too many forms, and there being too much paper work. Further, it would be necessary to investigate how every voluntary hospital in Great Britain did its work before and compare that with how it is doing its work now in order to get this information.
Would not it be in the public interest if sample inquiries could be made, not necessarily covering all the hospitals, to find out the dimensions of this problem? Surely the Minister realises that his scheme stands or falls by the economical and efficient way in which it is enabled to spend the nation's money?
It is, as hon. Members know, a very remarkable thing today that the whole of the Health Scheme is administered by 10,000 to 11,000 voluntary persons who are not paid anything at all; and that is a very remarkable tribute to the voluntary principle. We cannot call to account officials employed in an official capacity unless they are paid a salary.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that without information of this kind, his denials of extravagance in the administration of this service are worthless?
And without information of this kind accusations of extravagance are nonsense.