asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will increase the number of local authority representatives who sit on family practitioner committees.
The National Health Service Act 1977 provides, in schedule 5, that family practitioner committees must include four members appointed by local authorities; there is provision for this to be varied, by orders made by my right hon. Friend, by reason of special circumstances affecting particular areas and orders have been made providing for one additional local authority member to be appointed in four London areas. My right hon. Friend has no plans for introducing other departures from these statutory provisions.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will review the role of administrators of family practitioner committees acting as secretaries of local medical committees to ensure the interests of patients are properly cared for independently of the interests of general practitioners.
Few administrators of family practitioner committees are also secretaries of local medical committees and I am not aware of evidence to suggest that the interests of patients are not properly cared for because of these arrangements. However, I will consider whether guidance on the matter is required.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many family practitioner committees have invited community health council observers to their meetings; whether the Cleveland family practitioner committee does so; and what further action he proposes to take to ensure such participation.
About half of the family practitioner committees in England have done so. Cleveland family practitioner committee does not invite observers to its meetings but I understand there are regular meetings between family practitioner committee and community health council members.My right hon. Friend is closely watching progress being made by way of local arrangements before deciding whether further action is needed.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take action to ensure that the address and details of appropriate family practitioner committees are published in general practitioners' waiting rooms and in other public places.
The address of local family practitioner committees are already available in most main post offices, libraries, social security offices and in telephone directories. The medical card which every NHS patient should have also carried the address of the appropriate local committee at the time the card was issued.There is no provision in the terms of service of general medical practitioners, which are laid down in the National Health Service (General Medical and Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations 1974 enabling my right hon. Friend to require general medical practitioners to display this information.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will bring forward legislation to clarify the relationship between family practitioner committees and area health authorities making it clear who is responsible to whom.
Such legislation is not necessary. Area health authorities were established by my right hon. Friend in accordance with powers which were consolidated in section 8 of the National Health Services Act 1977 and family practioner committees were established by area health authorities as provided for in section 10 of that Act. The Act also makes various provisions for the exercise of functions.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will bring forward legislation to re-enact section G of schedule 1 to the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 to allow family practitioner committees to admit press and public to their meetings; and if he will instruct family practitioner committees to circulate their minutes and papers to public libraries and appropriate centres for public information in their areas.
I shall let my hon. Friend have a reply as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will increase the powers of area health authorities over the budgets of family practitioner committees.
My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so. Expenditure of family practitioner committees in providing the family practitioner services is funded and accounted for separately, and is not met from area health authorities' revenue allocations. Family practitioner committees' administrative expenditure is however required to be contained within area health authorities' cash limits.