HC Deb 06 December 1945 vol 416 cc2511-2
34. Mr. Somerville Hastings

asked the Minister of Health whether he is now pre pared to offer any advice to doctors, de mobilised from the Forces, as to the purchase of a practice.

Mr. Bevan

The Government have not yet finally decided upon the proposals which they will be submitting to Parliament for a National Health Service. They believe, however, that it will be incompatible with the provision of an efficient service that the future exchange of medical practices, and the creation of new practices, within that service should be left entirely unregulated and that no effective steps should be taken to secure a proper distribution of doctors to fit the public need. They appreciate that intervention in this field— in whatever form it may take— will probably have the effect of preventing the sale and purchase of the practices of doctors taking part in the new service, and the Government therefore think it right to give warning of this probability at once and in advance of the formulation of their full proposals.

At the same time, and in order to allay the natural anxieties of doctors already in practice or now coming into practice from the Forces or elsewhere, the Government wish to make it clear that there will be an appropriate measure of compensation to doctors in respect of loss of capital values directly caused by the new arrangements. It is intended that discussions should be undertaken immediately with the profession's representative with regard to the steps to be taken to give effect to this decision.

Mr. Hastings

Has my right hon. Friend got any suggestions for the men returning from the Forces as to what occupation or what branch of the profession to take, if they are not to buy practices?

Mr. Bevan

I think the House will appreciate that it is very difficult to frame precise proposals ahead of legislation in this matter. What I have done has been to inform doctors that it is highly improbable that I will permit the sale and purchase of practices in future— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly, I have already said, subject to the proposals laid before Parliament. However, arrangements will be made with the medical profession immediately in order to deal with individual difficulties of doctors returning from the Services.

Mr. Willink

Is the right hon. Gentle man aware that this vague and menacing statement will cause the greatest possible anxiety and distress among a section of the population to whom the good will they have built up is their major asset? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that many of his present colleagues in the Government agreed that this was a matter of great complication and not essential to the introduction of a National Health Service, and can he expand what he means by the method of regulating the distribution of doctors?

Mr. Bevan

I have every reason to believe that the announcement I have just made will be received with great satisfaction by most doctors; that most of the best elements of the profession regard the sale and purchase of practices as extremely undesirable; and that they will be very glad indeed that I am about to discuss with them the conditions in which this practice is to cease.

Captain Baird

does the answer also apply to the dental surgeons?

Mr. Bevan

No, Sir.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Does the reply mean that doctors who can no longer purchase practices will no longer be able to choose in what part of the country they wish to practise? Does it mean that they will be directed or posted in future?

Mr. Bevan

I think the hon. and gallant Member had better await the full proposals.

Major Lloyd

In view of the most alarming and dictatorial policy which has been announced, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment.


As the matter involves legislation, it is bound to be out of Order on the Adjournment.

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