HC Deb 07 April 1965 vol 710 cc470-1
20. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what evidence has been sent to him showing an increased demand for prescriptions since 1st February, 1965.

Mr. Ross

The estimated number of prescriptions dispensed in February, 1965, compared with the corresponding month for the last six years, is higher than in four of these years and lower than in the other two: but the number of prescriptions fluctuates from month to month and from year to year and it is not possible at this stage to draw any firm conclusions on the level of demand since 1st February.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has had any individual complaints from doctors about the increased volume of work as a result of the removal of prescription charges? If not, as I suspect is the case, does not this indicate the stupidity and even the wickedness of the arguments produced by the Opposition when these charges were abolished?

Mr. Ross

We have certainly had no complaints from doctors of the kind which my hon. Friend has mentioned. It is certainly very unwise of anyone, no matter for what reason, to draw conclusions which are not based on facts.

Mr. Stodart

Does not the fact that there are no conclusions—the right hon. Gentleman said so—make nonsense of the conclusions drawn by the Opposition before the election that the people were being denied medicine by having to pay 2s. for it?

Mr. Ross

That does not follow at all.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

Is the Secretary of State aware of the exaggerated views which have been circulated among doctors and chemists about the extent of the increases? In the light of this, would he agree to examine the possibility of making some analysis of the actual increases in relation to the type of patient and doctor in each area?

Mr. Ross

We have done a certain amount of analysis, and I can tell my hon. Friend that the indications are that the cost per prescription is down.