HC Deb 20 May 1954 vol 527 cc2263-5
13. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Minister of Health whether, under his regulations, cortisone and ACTH can be prescribed by doctors to their private patients.

Mr. Iain Macleod

There are no regulations governing the prescription of these or any other drugs for the use of private patients. In the public interest I have limited the distribution of cortisone and ACTH to selected hospitals from which they may be obtained for the treatment of private patients suffering from certain serious conditions.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Does not the Minister agree that it is undesirable that patients should feel that they can get these drugs as private patients but may not be able to get them, at any rate from general practitioners, under the National Health Service? Will he urge upon doctors generally that these drugs should not be prescribed except in hospitals?

Mr. Macleod

We are at the moment limiting the distribution of cortisone—the supply position is rapidly becoming a great deal easier—to about 100 selected hospitals. It is hoped to extend the distribution very considerably. However, the use of the drug must, clearly, be entirely at the discretion of the doctors. One obviously cannot deny cortisone to a patient, if it is thought desirable that he should have it, merely because he happens to be in a private room and not in a ward.

Mr. T. Williams

Before a general distribution of cortisone is made, will the Medical Research Council be consulted as to how, by whom and in what quantities it shall be prescribed?

Mr. Macleod

Certainly. As cortisone becomes increasingly available, this sort of problem will arise. We shall move in step with the Medical Research Council.

Mr. Russell

Can my right hon. Friend explain what ACTH stands for?

Mr. Macleod

It is a short name for a very complicated drug.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that if a doctor at a hospital thinks that a National Health Service patient would benefit from the drug, he will be able to prescribe it?

Mr. Macleod

I am not certain that I can give precisely that assurance yet, but we are rapidly approaching the position when supplies will be fully adequate to fulfil all such purposes.