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Volume 982: debated on Monday 31 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will study the medico-legal situation which may arise from the introduction of the Medicover service in North London; and if he will make a statement;(2) whether he is satisfied that adequate family medical services can be maintained if an alternative private scheme for domestic consultations, such as the Medicover scheme at present operating in the London area, also operates.

A family doctor is obliged by the National Health Service terms of service to make a home visit when this is necessary because of the patient's condition but he may appoint a deputy to make the visit. This is his choice and responsibility, (subject to the family practitioner committee's consent where a commercial deputising service is used) and he remains responsible for continuity of treatment.The Medicover service, paid for by the patient, cannot be the means through which a general practitioner discharges his obligations under his terms of service without infringement of the requirements as to the acceptance of fees. I know that representatives of family doctors are just as keen as I am to ensure that NHS arrangements are mantained on the basis of continuous personal responsibility of the family doctor for the primary medical care of his patients.