§ 32. Mr. Randall
asked the Minister of Health how many instances of doctors 1549 informing their patients that there is a restriction on drugs which may be ordered for free supply for the proper treatment of patients under the new Health Service have been brought to his attention; what steps he has taken in the matter; and what action is open to patients so informed by their doctors.
§ 33. Mrs. Leah Manning
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that certain doctors are urging patients who go to them to be placed on their register to remain as private patients on the grounds that they will in this event receive better attention and be entitled to certain drugs which they could not have as National Health patients; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent such action.
§ Mr. Bevan
I trust there have not been many such cases, and I am confident that doctors will not attempt to discriminate between those who use the service and those who do not. Moreover, I. welcome this opportunity to make it clear that patients are entitled under the new Health Service without restriction to every kind of drug and appliance necessary for their treatment. Indeed, any doctor who failed to prescribe these drugs would be breaking his terms of service. I hope this statement will receive the widest possible publicity.
§ Mr. Randall
Is my right hon. Friend aware that two such cases as are indicated in my Question have been brought to my attention, and I now propose to pass them on to my right hon. Friend? Will he give an assurance that he will make the fullest inquiry? Furthermore, will he answer the latter part of the Question in which I ask what appropriate steps can the patients take when a doctor makes this statement?
§ Mrs. Manning
In view of the fact that I have also sent two cases to my right hon. Friend, and as this is a matter which is causing great anxiety among people of all parties and in many classes who have looked forward to the fact that they would 1550 not have to be burdened with doctors' bills in the future, can my right hon. Friend tell us what steps he himself will take to end this rather disgraceful action on the part of some doctors?
§ Colonel Stoddart-Scott
Will the Minister assure the House that doctors will not be surcharged for supplying certain drugs as they are at the present moment under the panel system?
§ Dr. Haden Guest
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the British Medical Association take the strongest view of the improper conduct which a few doctors have been following, as suggested in these Questions, and that they are taking action to bring this to the attention of the whole profession? Does not my right hon. Friend agree that, since the B.M.A. are now co-operating in order to give the best possible service under the slogan of Dr. Dain that "Only the best is good enough," it is desirable that their help in this matter should be welcomed by the Minister?
§ 43. Miss Bacon
asked the Minister of Health under what authority a doctor refuses to take a person on his list, and intimates that he is prepared to take the same person as a paying patient.
§ Miss Bacon
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is happening, and that this practice, in conjunction with the practice described in Questions Nos. 32 and 33, gives point to the criticism made by some hon. Members on this side of the House on the Second Reading of the Bill, namely, that to allow a doctor in a public practice also to undertake a private practice is a means whereby public confidence in the whole scheme can be destroyed?
§ Mr. Bevan
I am hoping that as we gain cumulative experience, this practice will disappear. I am sure that it is believed in only by a very small minority of the medical profession and I believe that as experience develops this alleged dichotomy in that service will be prevented. But as I have said in the answer to the Question, such conduct is entirely unethical, and ought to receive the disapproval of the House and the country.
Mr. Wilson Harris
Is there any specific remedy, when, as in a case I know myself, a doctor refuses to take a patient, on the grounds that the patient is in a position to pay, and therefore will not be accepted on the general list?
§ Mrs. Ridealgh
Is my right hon. Friend prepared to take action at a later date in cases where a doctor is prepared to take a Husband and wife, but refuses to take the children unless they pay private fees for the children.
§ Mr. Bevan
There have been one or two instances where a doctor has taken a husband and wife and refused to take the children I believe this also is frowned upon by the medical profession and only serves to illumine how necessary it is to organise this profession into a service for the nation as a whole in order to raise its standards of conduct.