12. Mr. Slater
asked the Minister of Health the average cost of a National Health Service prescription in county Durham at the latest available date, and how this compares with 1949 and 1950; and what is now the average national cost.
§ Mr. R. Thompson
The approximate average cost in April, 1958, was 6s. 5½d., as compared with 2s. 7½d. in April, 1949, and 2s. 10¼d. in April, 1950. The average cost for England and Wales in April, 1958, was 6s. 4¾d.
Can the Minister state how the cost varies in the National Health Service in view of the increase in prescription charges since 1949–50?
§ Mr. Thompson
Certainly. The main reason for the increase is the introduction of new and expensive drugs. Many of these have advantages in shortening treatment or giving treatment which was not previously available.
§ Mrs. L. Jeger
Does the Minister not consider that part of the increase is due to the fact that doctors are giving much bigger quantities per prescription to protect their poorer patients as far as they can from the incidence of the prescription charge?
§ Mr. Thompson
The question of prescribing is under the consideration of the Hinchliffe Committee, as I think the hon. Lady knows. My right hon. and learned Friend is considering the recommendations made in the interim report of that Committee and is in consultation about it with the organisations concerned.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Can the Minister say how many visits to doctors the appropriate regional medical officer has made in Durham concerning prescription charges?