HC Deb 09 May 1960 vol 623 cc9-10
25 and 26. Commander Pursey

asked the Minister of Health (1) if he will now state what progress he has made in his review of National Health Service spectacle frames; what proposals he is considering for improving the present range; and when he is likely to announce the details of his new range of frames; and

(2) whether, in his review of National Health Service spectacle frames, he will consider abolishing most of the present obsolete frames and substituting for them more up-to-date types, in improved quality of material; and if he will include in the new range some half-a-dozen alternative colours.

Miss Pitt

The results of the sample survey of the demand for the various types of National Health Service frames and their liability to need repair and replacement are now being analysed. My right hon. and learned Friend intends, as soon as possible, to ask his Standing Ophthalmic Advisory Committee to consider this information and advise him which frames, shown to be little used, can be omitted, and as to any other changes needed in the list of frames, including specifications of existing frames.

Commander Pursey

Before making his final decision, will the Minister arrange for samples of his proposed new range to be displayed in the House of Commons so that hon. Members may have an opportunity of expressing their views before their constituents are committed to the range for another twelve years? Will he also make some arrangements to get the views of patients who want to buy National Health Service frames as distinct from the views of opticians, who do not wish to sell National Health Service frames but want to sell private frames at exorbitant profits?

Miss Pitt

The Standing Ophthalmic Advisory Committee should be in a position to advise on the needs of the public. In addition, of course, the opticians themselves must be consulted. I shall ask my right hon. and learned Friend to consider putting the proposed ranges on view, although we have all had an opportunity of seeing the existing frames. I cannot accept that there has been no change in twelve years. A number of changes have been made and we are prepared to consider further changes.

Mr. W. Griffiths

Is it not a fact that the changes have been really insignificant? Is it not a fact that the Ministry has resisted any attempt to change the range available to people by bringing in a more modern range because it suits the Ministry very well for patients to buy frames privately, as that cuts down expense for the Ministry?

Miss Pitt

In fact, we have initiated the review on which I have been answering with the objective of making still further changes.

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