HC Deb 22 April 1964 vol 693 cc1301-2
39. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to establish funds with a view to grant-aiding general practitioners who are prepared to provide up-to-date surgery accommodation and services, with a view to promoting an efficient family service; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. A. Stodart)

The Health Departments are already discussing with the profession better means of encouraging general practitioners to improve practice accommodation and services; and I have no doubt that this will also be considered by the Working Party on General Practice.

Mr. Dempsey

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that many general practitioners' surgeries are far from satisfactory? Does he realise that even in some new surgeries recently constructed there are not even simple facilities such as an examination room because even a team of doctors are unable to afford them? Will he introduce some means of helping general practitioners to provide for the people who have to use them up-to-date surgery facilities in order to develop a more efficient family practitioner service?

Mr. Stodart

It is only fair to point out that about £265,000 has been lent, interest-free, to help about 100 groups of doctors in Scotland to provide new or improved professional accommodation. I think this is a step in the direction urged by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Woodburn

Does not the Minister realise that in some cases people still have to attend surgeries where there is no suitable sanitary accommodation and no suitable waiting accommodation and where conditions are quite primitive? Will he take urgent steps to see that the example of, for example, Stirlingshire, where the local authority is building surgeries along with clinics, is followed throughout Scotland as soon as possible?

Mr. Stodart

I take note of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I feel that we are making progress in the direction which he wishes.

Mr. Baxter

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the National Health Service Act, 1946, sets upon the Secretary of State the responsibility of providing health centres in Scotland, as opposed to tile arrangement in England where it is the responsibility of the local authorities to provide health centres? As the Secretary of State has failed in his duty in this respect, what does he now propose to do for the future?

Mr. Stodart

I have been profoundly impressed by at least one health centre which I have visited in Scotland and I very much hope that there will be a considerable extension of this development. In all the new towns it is being tackled.