HC Deb 25 March 1963 vol 674 cc925-6
7. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Health what guidance he has sent to local health authorities for the interpretation, on a national basis, of paragraph 3 of his Circular 1222 of 1950, regarding expenses of attending hospitals.

Mr. Braine

The guidance to local health authorities is contained in Circular 30/51, of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy.

Mr. Digby

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is an impression that this Statutory Instrument is being interpreted in some parts of the country too strictly, consequently putting more work on the ambulance service, which is the responsibility of the county and the rates?

Mr. Braine

I was not so aware, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing the matter to my attention. The position is that local health authorities have a duty, under the 1946 Act, to provide ambulance transport free of charge where necessary. Local authorities have been encouraged to take a reasonably wide view of their responsibility for providing ambulance transport. In my right hon. Friend's view, this responsibility is not narrowly restricted to medical necessity and he believes that the needs of the patients should always be put first.