HC Deb 11 December 1912 vol 45 cc457-8
71. Mr. BIRD

asked whether the amount of personal time and attention which can be given by a fully-qualified doctor, who contracts to attend 1,000 patients under the National Insurance Act, will be sufficient to comply with the regulations under the Act, seeing that such doctor will have to make on an average sixty attendances a clay, or giving an average of less than five minutes to each patient after allowing for time taken in travelling; and whether any limit is to be put on the number of patients which a doctor can be allowed to contract to attend?


Care will be taken to ensure that doctors do not contract to give attendance to a greater number of insured persons than is consistent with the interests of those persons. The hon. Member is, however, under a serious misapprehension. No doctor will contract to attend 1,000 patients. The contract will be to give such attendance as may be needed by any of the insured persons on the doctor's list. The number of persons on that list may be 1,000 or some other number, but the majority of them will not require medical attendance at all during any given year. This correction in the basis of calculation alone will have the effect of multiplying by several times any estimate of remuneration available or dividing similarly any estimate of work required. Even with this allowance, however, I am unable to follow the hon. Member's figures as to attendances which are not implied by any provision of the Regulations, and appear to be wildly in excess of estimates advanced even by critics of the Act. According to the experience of contract practice in the past, a doctor with 1,000 persons on his list (in respect of whom he would be receiving £350–£375 per annum) would be required to give about twelve attendances a day, including both visits at the patient's home and consultations at the surgery.


Do not the figures stated refer to selected lives and not to lives under the Insurance Act?


No, I do not think so. The lives will be about the same as the 14,000,000 insured under the Act.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the figures given are not founded on the experience of the friendly societies?


Not entirely. They are founded on the general report dealing with contract practice as a whole.


Does not the reply mean that the majority of people are to get no benefit from the Insurance Act?


I am afraid I cannot follow the Noble Lord's method of reasoning.