HC Deb 20 January 1949 vol 460 cc307-8
13. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that citizens of Newport have to wait for eyeglasses as long as 17 weeks in some cases; and whether he will accelerate delivery.

Mr. Bevan

I am aware that there are difficulties generally. All practicable steps are being taken to arrange for increased production.

Mr. Freeman

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the position is improving or getting worse?

Mr. Bevan

The position is improving, certainly. A very large number of persons have had spectacles who formerly would not have had them.

Mrs. Castle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that although delay is not so long in all areas as it apparently is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman), some difficulty arises from the fact that there is no arrangement for assessing the relative urgency of applications and working out a priority scheme for urgent cases?

Mr. Bevan

Discussions have already taken place with ophthalmic opticians to try to obtain priority for urgent cases.

Mrs. Jean Mann

Will my right hon. Friend say how many years the citizens of Great Britain waited for spectacles before the scheme was introduced?

Mr. Bevan

It is very evident that there must have been a very large number of people in almost all classes of the community who did not have glasses before 5th July.

Mr. Marlowe

Since they have had to wait so long, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the glasses are of sufficient magnifying power for them to see their meat ration?

Mr. Bevan

It is also one of the incidental disabilities of the service that they will be able to read the nonsense of the Conservative Party.

Mr. Henry Usborne

Is it impossible for those who want spectacles different from standard to obtain them by payment of an extra sum?

Mr. Bevan

No. It is possible for persons who desire to have frames which are superior to those issued under the National Health Service to make a payment, but we have protected the citizen by negotiating with the concerns as to what the overall payment shall be. Where glasses are ordered of a different kind and are necessary for clinical reasons, they can be obtained free.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how long it will be before children can be issued with splinterless glasses which they had prior to the Act?

Mr. Bevan

I am sure parents would not wish to restore children to the situation in which they were before the Health Service, but the question of splinterless glass, where medically necessary, for example in epileptic cases, is being urgently considered.

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