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Over-Prescribing

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 15 July 1954

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19 and 20.

asked the Minister of Health (1) the administrative cost of enforcing the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Prescribing, namely, the analysis of prescription returns, the investigation of cases of apparent above-average prescribing and the conduct of proceedings against doctors alleged to have failed to comply with the recommendations;

(2) how many doctors have been fined for failing to comply with the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Prescribing; what is the total amount of those fines; and what is the total above-average cost of the prescriptions involved in such cases.

My hon. Friend seems to be under some misapprehension. The Joint Committee's recommendations are not matters for legal enforcement, but doctors are asked to co-operate voluntarily in carrying them out. Penalties for excessive prescribing are governed by the statutory regulations, operative since 1948.

Have not the regulations been in force since July, 1943, entirely on the basis of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Prescribing, and cannot my hon. Friend supply me with the information asked for by the Questions on that basis?

The two matters are not connected. The question of prescribing, which is governed by regulations operative since 1948, has resulted in 21 cases being referred to the local medical committees. Perhaps, rather than take up the time of the House now, I could explain to my hon. Friend at some other time the complete difference between the two issues. The question of the Joint Committee's recommendations is a matter for voluntary co-operation from the doctors, which, in the main, we have received.

Having regard to the implications in these Questions, will the Minister undertake not to diminish her efforts to prevent over-prescribing and, indeed, profligate prescribing?

Is any action taken against patients who badger and bully doctors into giving them the kind of prescription they want on pain of their going elsewhere if they do not get it?

The executive councils can receive complaints from both patients and doctors and can investigate them.