asked the Minister of Health if he is aware of the decision of the Annual Conference of Local Medical Committees held on 15th June which registered opposition to the increased prescription charges; and if, in view of this new evidence from the majority of general practitioners in the National Health Service, he will now abolish these charges.
The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes" and to the second part "No".
Is the Minister aware that last Wednesday 80,000 doctors represented at the British Medical Association's Annual Conference also came out against prescription charges? What further evidence does he want us to produce before he will consider changing his pernicious policy?
I am not aware that evidence bearing on the matter was produced either at the debate to which the hon. Member refers in his Question or at that referred to in his supplementary question. Certainly no reasons were given to count against the grounds on which this House came to its decision.
asked the Minister of Health what steps he has taken to ascertain the effects on dispensing chemists of the increased prescription charges; and if he will make a statement.
I am not aware what effects the hon. Member has in mind.
Is the Minister aware of the great dissatisfaction amongst dispensing chemists at the present situation, at the change in the dispensing habits, from people coming at the end of the week—at pay day—rather than at the beginning? Can he tell the House Whether there is any threat of a strike on the part of dispensing chemists? If so, What emergency plan has he to meet the desire of patients to have their medicines?
The second part of the hon. Member's supplementary question seems to be a different question. As regards the first part, I have had no representations on a change in the dispensing habits to which he refers.
Has not the increased prescription charge led to a demand for a very considerable increase in dispensing fees by chemists? Is not the right hon. Gentleman's saving going to be a very expensive one in the end?
It is much too soon to know whether there is any reduction in chemists' income as a result of or since the increase in the prescription charge.