HC Deb 09 May 1960 vol 623 cc11-2
28. Sir G. Nicholson

asked the Minister of Health if he will now institute an inquiry into the operation of the domiciliary consultative service as recommended by the Select Committee on Estimates.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The root of the matter here is the difficulty of obtaining factual information. I have decided to tackle this aspect as the next step and have been considering what additional record should be kept. I shall shortly be putting proposals to the medical profession.

Sir G. Nicholson

I am obliged to my right hon. and learned Friend for that Answer, but does it mean that an inquiry will not be undertaken now and there will be still further delay until the additional information has been obtained? He will recollect that, when answering me on 29th February, he said that he would consider what action was appropriate after receiving the Report on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration. Later, he said that he would consider whether it is possible to get further and fuller information. Does that mean that we still have to wait for any result?

Mr. Walker-Smith

We looked at the Report of the Royal Commission to see whether it would help us in this connection, but as my hon. Friend knows, it did not take us very much further in this matter. As the matter now stands I take the view that if we can secure adequate records we may have all we need in the way of meeting the situation, in which case we shall have the results without the necessity of making any further inquiries.

Dr. Summerskill

In considering this matter, will the Minister remember that it is more economical for a general practitioner to use the domiciliary consultative service and pay a fee of something like four guineas or five guineas than to send patients into hospital where the charge for maintenance would be about twenty guineas a week?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I have that point very much in mind. It is, of course, true that the mere fact that the service has expanded does not in any way constitute evidence of abuse, because its expansion has an ameliorative effect on the pressure on hospital beds.

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