HC Deb 28 April 1958 vol 587 cc22-3
29. Mrs. Butler

asked the Minister of Health what reciprocal arrangements are available with the United States Army medical authorities in the United Kingdom whereby necessary medical supplies could be obtained free of charge in the United States of America by British parents who take children there for the closure of ventricular septal defects.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The existing, arrangements relate only to members of visiting forces and their dependants.

Mrs. Butler

Does the Minister not realise that some parents of the few children who suffer from this particular hole in the heart defect feel that they must take their children to America to give them a chance of growing to adult life because of the greater experience of the operation there? Is he aware that the cost is about £2,000, of which part is caused by the need for blood plasma and other medical supplies? Could he not explore the suggestion I have made in order to help those parents with the expenditure, since none is forthcoming from the National Health Service?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Lady has made an interesting suggestion, but, unfortunately, the only reciprocal agreements with the United States Army medical authorities are those under the N.A.T.O. agreement by which visiting forces and their dependants receive medical care comparable with that available to the home forces if the visiting forces have not adequate facilities of their own. I do not see that we can extend that military arrangement to the extent suggested by the hon. Lady.