HC Deb 04 May 1959 vol 605 cc8-10
16 and 17. Mrs. Braddock

asked the Minister of Health (1) why he has allowed an appeal against a recent appointment to a medical practice in the city of Liverpool; and, in view of the rule, hitherto observed throughout the National Health Service, that no medical practitioner shall, in the absence of special circumstances, be appointed to a vacant practice if he is already in charge of another practice which he does not undertake to abandon, whether he will make a statement on his policy in this respect;

(2) whether he will make a full statement on the terms of the recent recommendation made by the Medical Practices Selection Committee of the Liverpool Executive Council in connection with a vacant medical practice.

Mr. R. Thompson

The Liverpool Executive Council recommended one applicant and my right hon. and learned Friend allowed the appeal of another, mainly because he had more adequate experience in general practice. There is no absolute rule to exclude the combination of practices. Executive councils know that the filling of each vacancy must be considered on its merits and my right hon. and learned Friend sees no need to issue new instructions on this subject.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that this has caused great consternation in the Liverpool Executive Council, which has strictly adhered in the past to the rule that one doctor should not be given another practice in the same area? In view of this situation, will he state emphatically that there is no intention of breaking the rule which has been followed for so long in the National Health Service?

Mr. Thompson

Yes, I am quite happy to give that assurance. There has been no change of emphasis or direction here.

Dr. Summerskill

Although it is recognised that other doctors on a short list should have an opportunity to make an appeal after one doctor has already been appointed to a vacancy, is this very common? Can the Parliamentary Secretary say how often the appellant is successful?

Mr. Thompson

I cannot say without notice how often the appellant is successful, but we get quite a few cases. I should say that in this instance the issue was entirely decided on the merits of the case having regard to the qualifications, the experience and general practice of the successful appellant.

Mrs. Braddock

If the Minister is so satisfied with the good character of the people who recommended the original appointment, why did he allow the appeal of the person who had accused them of corruption in the execution of their public duties? This is a very serious matter indeed. Would the Parliamentary Secretary please make a full statement of the position so that the character of those on the Liverpool Executive Council can be viewed in its right perspective?

Mr. Thompson

My right hon. and learned Friend is perfectly satisfied that, in making this recommendation, there was no improper bias on the part of the Council in the first place. In reply to the second part of the supplementary question, may I say that the remarks of the appellant to which exception was taken were made when the appeal was lodged. The doctor stated at the hearing that they formed no part of his case, which rested on qualifications and experience.