§ 14. Mr. JOHNSTON
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health whether he is aware of the delays which 216 take place in Scotland in the payment of sickness benefit to persons insured under the National Health insurance Act; and whether he will take steps to prevent health insurance societies delaying payments of sickness benefit while corrections of a trivial and technical nature are being made on the claim form or the proposal form where these conflict?
§ Major ELLIOT (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, Scotland)
I am not aware that any considerable delay takes place in Scotland in the payment of sickness benefit to insured persons. This question was recently considered by the Royal Commission on National Health Insurance, to whom evidence was submitted by the Scottish Board of Health on an analysis of 8,000 cases. Of this number it was found that more than 83 per cent. of the insured persons involved received payment within four days to a week of the dates of the claims; about 14 per cent. received payment within 14 days, and that therefore only a very small residue of cases were delayed longer than a fortnight, sometimes on account of causes for which the insured persons were themselves responsible. I do not think therefore that any action on my part is called for such as is suggested in the second part of the question, but if any case where avoidable delay has taken place is brought to my notice I shall make inquiries.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Would a Circular Letter from the hon. Member's Department to the committees of these societies, referring them, perhaps, to a case where, say, a woman has been designated as a widow for over 50 years and by mistake of the office becomes a spinster and fails to get her sickness benefit for five weeks, be a sufficient remedy?
§ Major ELLIOT
A letter calling attention to a specific case receives much more attention than a Circular Letter making a general statement.