HC Deb 16 February 1959 vol 600 cc24-5
41. Mr. Albu

asked the Minister of Health if he will make funds available for a research study in a sample of hospitals, with a view to ascertaining the reason for the continuing rise in the cost of drugs and appliances, distinguishing the causes as between different branches of medicine, price increases, new drugs and appliances, and so forth.

Mr. Walker-Smith

No, Sir. Hospital authorities are already engaged on a general review of their costs following the publication of the first year's results of the new costing arrangements. I do not think it would be helpful to superimpose at this stage an additional study of the kind suggested.

Mr. Albu

Surely the Minister must realise that hospital authorities have not the funds or staff to undertake this type of research? Does he think we shall find the causes of these continually increasing costs unless we make a study of the extraordinarily wide variety of items which come under these headings?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am expecting to receive the reports from the hospital boards on the results of the costings review during the course of this summer, and when I have had an opportunity of considering them I shall be in a better position to judge to what extent, if any, further studies of hospital costs may be of value, and, if so, what form that study should take.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether this matter has come before the Hinchliffe Committee, which is considering the general question of prescribing? Does the Minister know whether the Committee has carried out an investigation?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Gentleman, of course, has seen the interim Report of the Hinchliffe Committee. We are now awaiting the final Report, which I expect to receive before very long. However, the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) is concerned purely with the hospital aspect, as can be seen from his Question.