HC Deb 23 March 1950 vol 472 cc2132-3
3. Mr. Stanley Prescott

asked the Minister of Health what is the total sum under the National Health Scheme now outstanding to chemists; over what period such sum is owing; how many chemists are concerned; and why there is delay in settling accounts.

Mr. Bevan

About £3¼ million, representing balances due for the period August, 1949, to February, 1950, after substantial payments on account had been made to the 12,975 chemists concerned. The pricing staff have been unable to deal satisfactorily with the greatly increased number of prescriptions issued, but a new procedure has started which should lead to better progress.

Mr. Prescott

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—because I think that it was factually accurate—may I ask whether he is aware that there is great hardship among chemists throughout the country because, during the last six months they have been financing the National Health Service? Will he do everything he can to expedite payment in future?

Mr. Bevan

We are doing all we can but, as I explained to the House when we discussed the Supplementary Estimates, there has been a very large increase indeed in the number of prescriptions. Ninety per cent. of the bills are paid within a month.

38. Mr. George Ward

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to reduce the delay in payments to chemists.

40. Miss Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Health on what date he proposes to pay the outstanding claims due to the chemists in the Parliamentary constituency of Tynemouth

Mr. Bevan

Chemists including those in Tynemouth, are paid each month about 90 per cent. of the amount due for the preceding month. A new method of pricing prescriptions, introduced recently, is expected to speed up the payment of balances.

Mr. Ward

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Worcester chemists are experiencing delays of between three and eight months in some cases in receiving payment, and that at a recent meeting they resolved to make representations to the Minister which he should have had by now?

Mr. Bevan

Chemists have their own means of making representations to me. The arrears cannot be more than 10 per cent., as I have explained. Ninety per cent. of the amount due is paid within a month of it being due, so that the arrears are only 10 per cent.

Mr. De la Bère

South Worcestershire is not at all satisfied.

Miss Ward

As the Government are making money on the outstanding amounts due to chemists, will the right hon. Gentleman consider paying interest on the amounts which the Government owe to chemists?

Mr. Bevan

I am satisfied that chemists are adequately remunerated for the services they render.

Mr. Fernyhough

In view of the distressing financial circumstances of chemists, will my right hon. Friend consult with the Minister of National Insurance or the National Assistance Board with a view to giving favourable consideration to any application for help

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