HC Deb 18 April 1958 vol 586 cc568-9
Mr. Speaker

Does the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) wish to move his Amendment in line 16?

Mr. Chapman

I beg to move, in page 20, line 16, at the end to insert: Provided that the Council shall first be satisfied that high standards of professional conduct are being generally applied by opticians in fixing charges to the general public for optical appliances or parts of optical appliances. I have already discussed this at great length and I now move the Amendment formally.

Mr. Speaker

Is the Amendment seconded? There being no seconder, the Amendment falls.

Mr. Russell

I beg to move, in line 37, at the end to insert: (3) The General Optical Council shall as soon as practicable after the day appointed for the coming into operation of this section make and submit to the Privy Council rules providing that where it appears to a registered optician that a person consulting him is suffering from an injury or disease of the eye, the optician shall, except in an emergency or where that person is consulting him for the purpose of being given treatment in accordance with rules under paragraph (d) of subsection (1) of this section or in such other cases as may be prescribed, being cases in which it is, owing to special circumstances, impracticable or inexpedient to do so, take the prescribed steps to refer that person to a registered medical practitioner for advice and treatment. This Amendment is designed to emphasise, at the behest of the medical profession, that opticians accept certain limitations on their functions. It states that it is the duty of the optician, if he detects any indication of disease when he is treating a patient, to refer that patient immediately to a medical practitioner. It is to emphasise that this is the accepted fact in the profession that I have moved the Amendment.

Mr. Hastings

I beg to second the Amendment.

I want to thank the promoters of the Bill for adding this subsection. I am sure that all members of the medical profession, who feel very strongly about it, will be grateful to them. We cannot cut the body into little pieces, as it were, and treat each part separately. Each part is associated with the remainder. A drug given for treatment of an eye may influence the rest of the body. It therefore seems to me that treatment should be carried out by an individual who has made a study of the whole body and who knows at any rate something of the action of various forms of treatment upon it.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I, too, should like to express my gratitude to my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell). In Committee I moved three separate Amendments on this subject but they were not entirely satisfactory in drafting and I withdrew them on an undertaking being given that some attempt would be made to secure a satisfactory form of words to meet the point. I think that this has been done in a most handsome manner by those responsible for the Bill.

Mr. W. Griffiths

The position is not changed here. This is exactly what opticians have always been charged with doing under the National Health Service Act. A definition is given in the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.