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Doctors' Ancillary Staff (National Insurance)

Volume 951: debated on Tuesday 13 June 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many representations he has received about the advancement from 31st to 6th March 1978 of the deadline for application to the new scheme for direct reimbursement of employers' national insurance contributions for doctors ancillary staff; how many such staff have been in consequence refused access to the scheme; and if he will make a statement.

The arrangements for general practitioners to be directly reimbursed the employer's national insurance contributions that they pay for their ancillary staff came into effect as intended on 1st April last. It was the date for occupational pensions schemes that was brought forward. I have received only a few letters about the change from individual doctors, though representations on behalf of the general practitioners as a whole have been made by the profession's representatives. Following consultations with the profession, detailed guidance on the acceptability of claims should shortly reach family practitioner committees.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have doctors in my constituency who were told about this pension scheme on the very day that they were also told that the closure date had been brought forward? Cannot he see that that looks like sharp practice to ancillary staff in the National Health Service? Can he tell the House whether the Department calculated the additional amount that would be needed to include everyone who applied by the original closing date of 31st March?

I reject allegations of sharp practice, since all that was done was done by joint agreement between the Department and the profession after discussions on the principle. No calculations have been made about any increased costs which would arise if all the claims were met.